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Music For Emotional Health

Started by SueC, July 28, 2019, 16:21:03

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I just remembered another musician who I find VERY beneficial to my wellbeing.
...Nat King Cole.
...his voice just seems to melt away any troubles I may be feeling, and an inner smile starts to shine. Ahhh that voice!

"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."


Oh my gosh, and his renditions Of Christmas songs 💕

"Where the flesh meets the spirit world,
Where the traffic is thin..."


Quote from: SueC on September 14, 2019, 11:02:39@Ulrich, thank you likewise for another introduction to a band I'd not heard of!  I've begun listening to that and the start is very much encouraging me to listen to the whole lot.  It's amazing how much stuff comes to me by recommendation these days, and I've been catching interesting things on this site - the strike rate is much higher than turning on the radio (we don't really have alternative radio here, although I suppose we could get that via the Internet these days).

Yeah well, that's maybe because on this site you have (mostly) like-minded people with a leaning towards (early)1980's "new wave" music, so you're likely to find something you might like!
The above mentioned I knew only by name, because Adrian Borland used to be the singer of The Sound (a band I knew through friends), so I was interested in his solo album (not heard one song; just read a review somewhere) and when I finally got it, I was rewarded with a beautiful album.

Back on topic: sometimes I need a more quiet "background music" (e.g. while reading), which is when "ambient" music is near-perfect.
It's never enough...


Because of the B-sides thread, we've been pulling various 80s albums back off the shelf at home. As a teenager I disliked a lot of the mainstream music of the day and preferred alternative music, which had more to offer musically and lyrically.  However, sometimes a mainstream piece heard on the radio would wiggle its way into my affections.

I thought this number was pretty mainstream musically, plus when people use the word "baby" as a term of endearment for an adult, I've always cringed.  Great ideas and atmosphere though.  ...Does anyone else here ever appropriate a part of a song for their own life, because it's somehow helpful?  While the context of this song was specifically about a romantic relationship, I thought the "If you fall over, don't think it's terminal, get up again" idea translates really well as a general life principle.  Life was tough for me as a teenager and up to about my late 20s, so if I heard a song which expressed hope in a way I could relate to, it became important to me, and at particularly tough times I'd listen to songs like this.

This exact thing came up on an early 90s radio interview when Bob Geldof visited Perth and dropped in to 96fm to guest DJ for a couple of afternoons.  This was his song for that topic:

Getting back to the idea of 80s mainstream that ended up significant in my life despite not liking some of its musical elements (I really don't like that hand-clapping synth effect, for instance - but I love bagpipes in the right context :)), this next song came out in 1987, which was my final high school year.  I was living with domestic violence at home and international violence on every TV screen, and about to be launched on this world, just 16 going into university on a science scholarship and feeling a long way from adulthood, but I felt very strongly about wanting to be a decent adult when I grew up, who didn't make other people suffer as a result of ignorance or selfishness if I could avoid it, and I very much wanted to be a more positive human being than both the people in my immediate family and the adults in charge of international relations at the time.

This song became woven into these things for me, and became an anthem for a lot of young people.  It really was an excellent song to have for your school leaving year.

I had to laugh at one of the YouTube comments on this - "Please rise for the Australian national anthem!"  :)

When I was 27, I came out of science research and training undergraduates and jumped over to high school teaching.  I had a fabulous :heart-eyes Year 12 English class that year, and remember the leaving song that was played at their graduation, by one of my Science department colleagues on acoustic guitar and his graduating daughter on vocals. 

The lyrics were so apt, and all the graduates were sitting on the stage in their finery while a slide show of their progress through high school from age 12 was shown on the screen behind them - school camps, excursions, presentations etc - and I had tears rolling down my face because of the beauty and the fragility of everything, and because of how you feel when people you love are sent off into an often difficult world - I had all my fingers and toes crossed for these young people, who are now in their late 30s.  I still hear from some of them periodically - one checked in recently courtesy of Grass Roots (I wrote an article on podcasts) - "I just had to check if it was you, I'm sure it is!" - and she's in a good spot and has a young family, which is lovely... :cool

It's funny how one moment you're starting out, and then suddenly you're midlife looking back.  Like my former student, I've ended up in a good spot and am happy with life.  It's been wonderful though, to actually watch the wheel turn and follow other generations from school leaving into adulthood.  When I was teaching this bunch, I already saw significant improvements over my own generation, and I love seeing the 30-somethings now on things like The Drum, being eloquent and compassionate and witty.  The world might actually begin to improve when their generation starts to run the show. :)
SueC is time travelling


Here's a song I first heard as a teenager.  That chorus was instantly adapted by me as one of those anthems for life...

SueC is time travelling


When this song first came out, I was too young to realise it could be cathartic...

SueC is time travelling


I've been listening to home-grown Australian music this week and would like to share a track called Animal Song, by the Warumpi Band.  I really like this band for its blend of indigenous Australian instruments and musical styles with guitars, bass and drums.  They are very good at evoking the Australian landscape, and what it's like to live here.  When I'm working on the land, it's a very good fit.

And see if you can spot the world's oldest woodwind instrument here! :)

The next one isn't so upbeat, but sometimes, brooding, apocalyptic music really hits the spot.  This is new to me this week, courtesy of mining my husband's music collection - this band is from Perth, Western Australia, and I'm thrilled that a band with a wonderful sound like this has come from our home state!

And I've returned to add this - sent to me by my editor this morning - also Australian and great fun!  :cool

...and this is where he puts it all together at a German blues festival...  :)

SueC is time travelling


I found a really good clip on the concept of low-contact / no contact with people who undermine your emotional health, and tried to find a place to slot it in, in the earlier discussions on this thread (which is possible because of the open editing feature here, so I sometimes add stuff to existing posts).  I couldn't find anywhere it wouldn't have interrupted the flow, so I'm just going to put it in as a post-script.  It's from Alain de Botton's School of Life stuff from this site:

It's a really helpful site for looking at your own life with a magnifying glass, and picking up all sorts of interesting ideas for useful change.  Alain de Botton is a modern philosopher, and I first bumped into his material when reading his book Status Anxiety over a decade ago.  He's great fun as a presenter - I've seen clips of his talks and heard podcast interviews, on which he is always good value.

Very good visual storytelling on this clip too:

More on low contact / no contact here:

Once again, lots of love to anyone who has had to deal with this kind of unhappiness. ♥  You're not alone.  There's a lot of it about.

An old Waterboys song on the topic:

SueC is time travelling


With this one, the singing itself is such a thing of beauty that it makes me glad to be alive.  Also, like with a lot of traditional Celtic music, there is a sense that joy and pain are interconnected - as they generally are.

Here's a track from a South Australian folk/roots outfit called The Audreys, which would deserve a spot on the Emotional Health thread just for its brilliant lyrics - but its music is also very beautiful...

SueC is time travelling


Well, today I had to deal with an emotional flashback, which is a really unpleasant "hangover" from PTSD.  I don't get them much anymore, as most of those things flooded out five years ago when The Great Wall Of China collapsed.  But, today the question of violence against animals came up on my home forum, and it made me remember the time my older brother, who is ironically a practicing veterinarian, beat my horse across her head with an iron bar and my parents hushed it up and tried to pretend it had never happened.  This was over 20 years ago, but thinking about it made me feel ill, in a typical flashback reaction.  Just physical disgust, nausea like you get with a migraine, both at what happened to my horse and how it was dealt with by my family.  And you go around trying to shake the disgust like trying to shake a migraine.

Not all emotional flashbacks involve disgust; all sorts of emotions can be involved.  Five years ago, the primary emotions that flashed back for me in recollections were terror and helplessness, because they came from so far back in early childhood.  That's pretty typical, as PTSD really is a brain response to situations in which you felt that your survival, and/or the survival of those you love, was at risk.  Therefore, the typical flashbacks involve the involuntary replaying of scenarios of terror.  It's later on that the more nuanced stuff comes out - like reactions you had as you got older, and started processing these things, and thinking for yourself a bit more.  That's when things like physical disgust kick in.  Really, all emotional flashbacks involve emotions that were frozen into ice cubes for later, because you couldn't fully process them at the time.  Later is sometimes a very long time...

I've added these comments to the Emotional Health thread because they're an extension of things I've already talked about early in the thread, and because today, music made a difference to me when I was dealing with that "hangover nausea" from way back.  Not all of what I listened to, but I put on bits of Hyde Park live to cajole myself through an outdoors task so I would do it instead of just vegetating in front of the men's tennis semi-final.  But then, the track Disintegration came on, and that particular composition made me feel significantly better very quickly - the nausea was actually disappearing in a minute or two, much to my amazement.

It's not the only song in this world that could have done that, but it is one of that group.  It was not because the lyrics are anything to do with what happened in my life - Robert Smith could have been going "la-la-la-la" or singing in Swahili, and it would still have had that effect.  It was purely the sound of the thing, because it has the same sense of emotional hell in it somewhere, yet also something over the top of that which is bigger than that.  Obviously, music is like a Rorschach test as well (not just ambiguous lyrics) - and it's going to evoke different things for different people, but listening to this song today made the nausea subside significantly.  I think sometimes, it's not distraction we need, or reminders of the bright side of life, but an actual acknowledgement of the difficulties of the human condition etc.

SueC is time travelling



Today, I want to think out loud about the arts, The Cure and emotional health.  In the last post, I mentioned that sometimes, when you're trying to deal with difficult things, you do need an actual acknowledgement of the difficulties of the human condition, rather than just distractions, or reminders of the bright side of life.  All of these have a place, of course, and it occurred to me that all of these are addressed if you look at the catalogue of this band - you can find fun stuff, and odes to awe and wonder, and celebrations of love and life, and also grappling with the sad things and with the dark sides of being human.  That's actually a very well-rounded approach, and yet when you read about this band you don't hear that mentioned very much.

It's the capacity to look and think in these different ways that very much underpins emotional resilience, and a healthy approach to life.  In the age of Instagram I get wearied by all the airbrushing and editing of what life is supposed to be, and think it's refreshing when people can be real, and they can show you their flaws instead of Disneyfying themselves for public view.  It sets a very good example of what it really means to be human.  If you look at the pressure that's created for teenagers now, compared to thirty years ago, to have these perfect airbrushed lives, it becomes unsurprising that depression and anxiety are on the increase, along with body dysmorphia and loneliness.  The commonly paraded ideas of what you're supposed to be are completely unrealistic, and it's worse than that - it is hollow, and the opposite of authentic.  It's inviting you to be a commodified shell instead of an actual person.

Add to that the increasing isolation of people from each other, the struggle for many to feel part of any kind of meaningful community, the escalating deficit of nature and the outdoors in increasingly suburban and indoors lives, the demise of the free-range childhood, the tyranny of personal devices and screens that now starts in infancy, the decreasing job security, the ever-widening gap between ultra-rich and dirt poor as the majority of the planet's resources become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, not to mention the spiralling rape and pillage of the Earth's remaining functioning ecosystems and our overloading of the planet with waste and pollution, all now coming home to roost - and you've got a recipe for poor mental / emotional health for the majority of people on this planet.  You almost have to be an activist these days to stay sane, in some area or another that you particularly care about, and to feel that you can do something about the increasing madness all around you, instead of letting it all happen while you sit in impotent horror and dejection.

In the middle of all this, the arts humanise us.  Reading stories and poetry, listening to music, watching movies, looking at art that makes you think and reflect, and participating yourself creatively in some way, is one of the most effective antidotes to consumerism and general hollowness we have in the modern world.  It addresses what economics and politics never will.  Its themes include love, beauty, wonder, mortality, justice, identity, society, and critical reflection about all these things; it encourages thought, playfulness, humour, creativity and real-world engagement.

I'm careful with what I allow to take up my time, because it is finite (and wrote about how I make those decisions here  I'd never be interested in buying books or CDs or movies that didn't somehow help me be a better human being by honing my thinking or my empathy or both.  And the reason I took to The Cure's music five years ago is because I found it did both.  Writing about it adds another layer of both, so I'd be doing that even if I locked it in a cupboard at the end of the day as per my decades of paper journalling, but here we are in an age where we can write on virtual paper and allow other people across the globe to read it, and to comment and get discussing if they wish (and I hope that those reading will get more out of this than out of spending their time with the Murdoch press :winking_tongue).

Something else I was thinking about is that The Cure have been beneficial to the mental and emotional health of many over the years by being different and wearing that well.  When you are a kid especially, being different can come with so much ostracism and pain, and it can be such a great source of hope to see adults who are different who are making that work for them.  I was a different kid, and I paid a price for that.  Now I'm a different adult, but I'm really enjoying myself, and am largely buffered from the adverse rubbish that went down because of it when I was younger.  Because I taught teenagers for 15 years, I had an opportunity to role model wearing difference well, and that was very rewarding, and it did actually make a significant difference to a lot of people (they told me so, I got hugged a lot, etc).

I think that The Cure probably made an especially big difference to boys who were different, who didn't want to be sports jocks or macho men or suits, who didn't want to live their lives constrained by narrow definitions of what is acceptable for men physically or emotionally - and the men those boys grew up to be.  As a person who was long involved in the pastoral care of young people, I really applaud that kind of role modelling.  I think boys especially are prone to getting so much of their humanity and potential amputated by the process of mainstream socialisation, and are under so much pressure to deny their feelings.  It is so, so important to have voices and faces out there to show boys that it's OK to be outside of the narrow roles that narrow-minded people want them to inhabit, and that they can be fully human, and be themselves.  This is also so, so important when you get into romantic relationships down the track, for both sides.

A couple of years ago I was reading some background information on The Cure and laughed about this anecdote that the teenage Robert Smith was trying out eyeliner and found that it made him more likely to be targeted by idiots, and this made him more determined to wear eyeliner.  :lol:  That's the spirit!  :smth023  There's people I know who are actually very put off listening to The Cure when they see Robert Smith in stage make-up - and most of these people are either males with very narrow definitions of masculinity, or females who like males with very narrow definitions of masculinity - in other words, highly conservative people, plus rednecks.  I think it's an interesting phenomenon.  As a 13-year-old I was bashed in the face by my own father for the crime of putting up a poster in my room of a male pop star in a kaftan and make-up.  My nose was bleeding and I was on the ground and he was still laying into me like a maniac.  Eventually I escaped through a window and ran into the night, with a great deal to think about.

It was impossible for my father and mother and the rednecks in the playground to beat or bully difference out of me.  The more they attempted it, the more determined I was to live on my own terms.  A lot of so-called teenage rebellion is exactly that - a determination to be who you are, in spite of everything.  To thine own self be true.  And yet the thing that can be so painful for you as a teenager is the very thing that will richly reward you later on, because that's exactly what authenticity does - it allows you to live broadly and deeply and fully and with joy.

And of course, this makes you a terribly disappointing consumer, and the economy would collapse if everyone was like that, so we can't have that!   :winking_tongue

I'll leave you with an Australian movie on the topic that I highly recommend you catch if you haven't already!

SueC is time travelling



One thing I didn't get around to in my last post is anger, and how that's often a substitute emotion males are "allowed" to feel and to display instead of more "soft" things like sadness, or hurt.  With rubbish like this still around (because it hasn't completely died out yet and is still prevalent in some sections of the general community), it's always excellent when there are male adults in public view who express a wide range of emotions instead of suppressing them, or channelling them into anger instead.  It's antidote role modelling to that whole toxic masculinity thing, and that's something that The Cure have done very well and that I commend them for.  Often the people who role model something well aren't actually aware of that, they're just getting on with the business of living and being who they are.

In broader terms, it gets back to authenticity, and when there are people around who live authentically and who can be fully human regardless of their gender, that's very healthy for people still forming their identities to see.  When you give yourself permission to be who you are, instead of adopting what's prescribed for you socially or what other people want you to be, you're helping other people do that too - and instead of creating a social monoculture, authenticity encourages diversity (and thorough thinking).

Boys Don't Cry has been used many times in schools to start class discussions around stereotypical gender expectations versus deciding for yourself who you are and what you can think, feel and express.  I used that song as a discussion springboard myself well before I was ever a Cure fan.  It's just become so culturally embedded that it comes to mind when people are casting around for songs to use as springboards to discuss various issues with high schoolers.  Other songs used tons of times include Cat's In The Cradle, She's Leaving Home, Another Brick In The Wall, Salt Water, Imagine, and more recently, Caught In The Crowd - and then of course there's the whole "bring your own song and tell us what it made you think about" side of it too (which is incredibly interesting - people can become very communicative about music they like, and it also tends to foster group cohesion and mutual respect to have these discussions).

In Boys Don't Cry, the protagonist talks about covering up, trying to laugh about it and "hiding the tears in my eyes - because boys don't cry" - but often it gets worse than this, when that kind of suppression ends up as destructive anger - and as a society we pay a very high price for that.

To me, The Cure make a very nice contrast to the heavy metal genre, which is so full of anger and destruction, yelling, screaming and bashing up various instruments.  I have PTSD and therefore have never been able to listen to stuff like this, nor been "entertained" by violence depicted by Hollywood for that purpose (!!!).  Growing up at the pointy end of violence, it was impossible for me to be anything but sickened by it, or to find any aspect of that funny or entertaining.

Anger, of course, isn't always about violence, and isn't always destructive.  Anger can be the thing that lets you know someone has seriously messed with a personal boundary of yours, and therefore be a useful alerting system - and the next step then is to respond in a considered way.  Anger can be used constructively, as an impetus to make you work for justice and fairness, in your own life, in your social and work circles and in broader society.  Anger is useful for keeping you away from people who are toxic and harmful to you, and anger is useful if you have to defend yourself or someone else, especially from physical assault.  It's not that you shouldn't feel it, it's what you do with it.

When I was growing up, pretty much all the anger I saw in my household was destructive and violent.  I saw anger in general as a bad thing and had no idea it was possible to be constructively angry in the service of something, until I started listening to music as a teenager.  U2's War album did that especially well.  Here were a bunch of people who'd grown up with violence and civil war in their own country, and in some cases, with violence in their own homes, and yet they were channelling their anger not into more destruction, but into constructive actions.  I will close with a favourite song off that album.

SueC is time travelling



This is an open letter to anyone who is dealing with (or alleged to be dealing with) mental/emotional health conditions.  Hello if you've got PTSD, depression, bipolar, GAD, SAD, social anxiety, OCD or anything else like that as part of your current package.  I have the complex PTSD version of PTSD, and amongst my acquaintance I know at least one person each for all the other examples I listed, and all of them are people I really like, and who contribute very usefully to society in some way, shape or form. :cool

I don't let PTSD define me in the same way I don't let having a cold define me.  It's something you have to deal with.  With PTSD though, unlike with a cold, it's probably always going to be a part of who I am, and it's certainly a significant part of what shaped me - and why I have many of the positive attributes I have as a human being, because nothing made me care more than understanding what it is to suffer.

I didn't even know I had PTSD for the first 43 years of my life.  How it manifested itself was already written about in the early pages of this thread, so I won't repeat that.  Knowing for the past five years did help me make sense of a lot of things, and helped me to make amends for the things that had hurt me deep down when I was little.  How I did that is another story, and I might add that to this thread sometime later.

So who am I?  Above all, a human being, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Hominidae, genus Homo, species sapiens (which means wise, and that's a laugh applied to our species :yum:).  I'm an Australian born in Europe, of German and Italian ancestry (that I know of).  I'm generally a political leftie, a social progressive, and I think democracy is broken, at least in this country, and I can see that it is in many others too.  My senior high school education was by choice mostly in arts, language and literature, and then I won a scholarship into a science degree when I was 16.  I finished with a double major degree in Environmental Science and Biology, and was awarded an academic prize for being the top graduate in the Biology programme.  I knew I wanted to work with people, and I also had a phobia about public speaking, so I did a post-graduate diploma in Science education for the dual purposes of formally qualifying to teach, and desensitising myself so I could stand up in front of an audience without dying.  :1f635:

I worked in sustainable agriculture research and biodiversity conservation before teaching undergraduate students in botany, zoology, ecology and general science subjects.  At age 27 I started teaching in high schools, since I love the diversity that you get with the 12-17 age bracket:  One end oohs and aahs over things like sultanas bobbing up and down in soda water, and with the other end I've had deep and meaningful discussions on life, the universe and everything at the same level of seriousness that you get with university students.  Also, since I'm basically a Hermione, I taught Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry and Physics at senior levels - and also Geography, English and English Literature.  I've always liked a broad approach, and would have suffocated just limiting myself to one side of the sciences as a teacher.  :1f634:

I did that for 15 years, and then my husband and I did what Australians call a "tree change," and moved to a smallholding in a rural area to build an off-grid eco-house with our own hands, downshift to part-time work, and nurture our inner hippies.  We are both passionate readers and writers, and we love hiking the local mountain and coastal tracks.  We've planted over 5,000 seedling trees and bushes by hand to create shelter belts in our pasture, and we steward 50 hectares of superbly preserved on-farm remnant sclerophyll bushland that's bursting with wildflowers, marsupials, birds and insects, which we mosaic burn like the indigenous Australians did, mostly in the autumn, to maintain its internal diversity and to protect it from rampant wildfires.  We grow our own fruit and vegetables, keep honey bees and a small group of beef cattle, and barter with other smallholders for eggs and milk.  We have five extremely cute donkeys, and three horses that grew up in the same prison as myself, and like me, they got out, and it thrills me to see them revelling in their freedom.  These horses had spent years solitary in sand yards, kept from others of their kind by double electric fences, unable to graze, roam or socialise.  They paced up and down their fence lines with dead expressions in their eyes, wearing deep grooves into the ground.  And now they do this:

:heart-eyes  :smth023  :cool

We're passionate foodies and don't do convenience foods; we avoid refined flour and added sugar like the plague.  We love music.  We have a happy, respectful, mutually supportive, equal relationship with each other (but this doesn't mean we are perfect).  Everything I wrote about above is an outgrowth of what is important to us as human beings.  Actions speak louder than words, or dreams (but dreams are a great start).

Did I mention I have PTSD?  (I also sometimes have dessert before mains.  Grown-ups can do things like that.  ;))

PTSD is one of the more "presentable" disorders - if you say you have it, the rednecks will think you're a psychological weakling, but educated people understand that PTSD results from exposure to trauma, and people generally don't think less of you for having it.  Depression is slightly less presentable, but it's getting better as more people open up and the public get more educated about it.  Bipolar still scares people, yet a number of my circle have it, and I'd not have known just from working with them.  We're all just people.  This stuff is not the most important thing about us.

By the way, complex PTSD is a more recently recognised phenomenon, and some people think that it could really displace the majority of the conditions currently listed in the DSM - since many of these conditions are at their core responses to complex childhood trauma.

Our mental health system in Australia has much to recommend it, but also many shortfalls.  I want to illustrate some of the shortfalls by telling you about what happened to a student of mine after he graduated high school.

This particular student was above-average bright, funny, and decent, but he had a history of being bullied through primary and middle school, in part because he was "different" and in part because he was overweight.  After going to tertiary education and qualifying in his chosen area, he went to work up north as a new graduate, in a mining town.

Some of the local rednecks got it in their heads he was gay and decided to teach him a lesson.  He actually isn't gay, not that this should have made a difference, but to some stupid people, anyone who's not like them is automatically gay, and being gay is in their tiny minds some aberration they feel entitled to punish. 

So what these three men did is to lie in wait outside the front door of this young man, waiting for him to come out to go to his early-bird shift.  Noone else was around.  And when he came out, they started beating him up.  Brutally and like the cowards they were, three against one, planned for them but a surprise for him.  He ended up on the ground, with the three of them on top of him.

But he had a black belt in a martial art, and somehow he managed to start fighting them off.  The tables turned, and then the gang leader was on the ground, with the young man pummelling him until he was unconscious.  The ambulance was called, and the gang leader went to hospital.

The police then decided the young man was in trouble for assault occasioning bodily harm, and he had to undergo psychiatric assessment and follow-up as a result of that.  (The three bullies didn't.   :evil:  :smth011 )

Over the next couple of years, the young man was in psychiatric treatment, and the "professionals" working with him convinced him he had some kind of antisocial disorder because he had beaten someone within a couple of inches of death.  (Somehow they seemed to forget about the exact circumstances behind this matter.)  They convinced him that if he was a normal person, he would have known when to stop, and that he was a danger to society unless he went on psychiatric medication and continued to work on his "problem."  And he believed them.

Every time I heard from this young man again, they had diagnosed him with something different.  The alleged antisocial disorder morphed into ADHD and that into bipolar disorder and from there to God knows where.  And the reality was that they were talking to the wrong guy - he was a gentle giant, but what are you supposed to do when you get physically assaulted by a group of sociopaths who think it's their God-given right to beat up people they don't like the look of?

Along the way, his confidence in himself, never strong in the first place, eroded further and further. He was encouraged by the people treating him to see himself as somehow defective and dangerous, and he grew into the labels these people were putting on him.  It made me so sad.  Because all along, he wasn't the danger to the public - his assailants were, but somehow, this had been conveniently forgotten.  A system which should have helped to validate that it was not OK for people to turn up on his doorstep to beat him up, and should have helped him process the trauma that had happened to him, instead made him the scapegoat, and traumatised him further, while letting the real offenders go free.

Stigma and labels aren't helpful for anyone trying to recover emotionally from an unprovoked assault.  They're also not helpful for anyone trying to grow beyond the hurts and scars of their formative years. 

And nobody showed the adverse effects of stigma and labelling better than Jane Elliott...

This is the documentary we were showing to high schoolers about general discrimination in society, and well worth watching if you've never seen it before, because it is so powerful:

Similar workshop here:

I'm including these resources here both because they are so hugely relevant to emotional/mental health as a whole, and also to make the point that one of the many differences that can be used to try to make people feel defective, and bad about themselves, is being diagnosed with something listed as a mental/emotional disorder in the DSM.  The irony in that case is that it was abuse that often caused these disorders in the first place, and that people need support and understanding, not more grief.

I'll get back to music specifically next post.  As always, anyone reading is invited to participate in this thread as well.  If there's something you'd like to say, just say it.
SueC is time travelling


One of our guests at the moment is Irish and so naturally we came to talk about wonderful Irish people.  One of those is Noel Fitzpatrick, who specialises in small animal orthopaedics.  A lot of you may know him from The Bionic Vet series.  If you don't, here he is with Oscar, one of his patients.  I've posted three clips back-to-back that tell Oscar's story well and sequentially, because the long clip disappeared off YT a while back.

What a lot of people won't know is that Noel Fitzpatrick had an emotionally horrific, lonely, isolated childhood.  What got him through was music, the company of animals, and a teacher who believed in him.  He had been faltering in primary school, including academically, until this teacher sat him down and told him that he wasn't stupid and that he could do well in his subjects, and started mentoring him.  So this emotionally starved boy from the back woods of Ireland with an alcoholic parent and a very sad home life became one of the most extraordinary veterinarians on the planet today.  It's a wonderful story of overcoming a really rough start in life.

Margaret Throsby interviewed him as part of her ABC Classic FM series where she gets various people in the public spotlight to come in for a chat and play some of their favourite music.  It's a super interview, but at the moment the ABC is re-shuffling their archives and this one has disappeared from their site.  I might be able to find it on iTunes though.  When and if I find a link I will post it here, because it's really inspirational stuff.
SueC is time travelling


Time to add to this thread, I think - and once again invite anyone else to add their own songs.

Since I didn't grow up with particularly compassionate parents, I learnt compassion from compassionate people at large - teachers, friends, random people - and also, indirectly, through some books and songs I was lucky enough to come across.  It takes a village to raise a child, and the village that raised me included Shakespeare, Dickens, Yeats, James Herriot, the Brontës, early U2, Big Country, Suzanne Vega, Sinéad O'Connor, Paul Kelly, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and many others (it all matters). 

Who raised you?

I'm currently revisiting some John Mellencamp albums (and realising I need to add to my collection).  Here's some songs of his that showed me you could give a damn about others, when I was in senior high school.

...and here's a fairly recent live version of the same song - complete with folk instrument intro.  The violinist ROCKS!  :heart-eyes

I have so, so much time for music like this.  Mellencamp was always a sort of lone voice in American music, telling it how it was, instead of regurgitating the official brainwash - something a lot of his fellow citizens don't necessarily take to kindly, but that's exactly why the world needs people like him.

Another gorgeous, sad song: is so much better at telling it how it is, than the "news"...
SueC is time travelling