Mental Health Week.

001-copyAt this time of year we remember people who are experiencing mental health problems. This year I was drawn to a television program on the ABC, which was designed to lift awareness on mental health issues by explaining in detail what each diagnosis of a mental dysfunction entailed; and its treatment.    The program was made in the United Kingdom by the BBC where the approach to mental health issues is far more open for discussion than here in Australia, but what struck me was the emphasis on pharmaceuticals and treatments such as magnetic cranial stimulation when there is little evidence of the long term effects of these treatments or whether they are anything more than a placebo. Moreover, where there is the possibility of risk, such as memory loss; there was no discussion at all.

It disturbs me that people experiencing mental health difficulties really have no options.  Many are unemployed and on social benefits, which can be removed if recipients do not cooperate.   The pharmaceutical remedies generate trillions of dollars for the big corporations, whist unless a person is rich it is almost impossible to get respite in a drug free facility under $30.000 dollars.

In the 1960s R.D. Laing, a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, together with and his colleagues, developed the concept of the ‘safe haven’ for mental-health patients, without locks or any anti-psychotic drugs.   Laing and his colleagues were the founders of the UK mental-health charity called ‘The Philadelphia Association’ and they set up a facility called ‘Kingsley Hall’ in Bromley-by-Bow in London’s East End; that was 50 years ago.   The association, which exists today, challenges the accepted ways of understanding and treating mental and emotional suffering; key to that was, and still is, a commitment to conversation as a way of articulating what disturbs people.

All people are born with differences, but it is society that turns these differences into a mental illness.   Economic progress made the  treatment of mental illness an integral component in industrial capitalization.   As the French philosopher Jacques Lacan noted, the human brain is structured by language and language (included in the arts) is the better form of changing obsessive and damaging behaviours.  If money is to be spent on mental illness it needs to be linked to causation; poverty, abuse, trauma, competition anxiety and the rest with treatments that offer an understanding of causation.

In its favour, the program mentioned above did include some cognitive behavioural therapy, which works for some providing they have good levels of concentration.

Art therapy teaches mindfulness; which comes automatically when someone is being creative.  That said, the program in question made the only link between art and madness from a very negative perspective. To wit, all artists are a ‘little manic’.


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Art Therapy.

Digital Camera When I was younger art appear to be no more than a personal indulgence; or in my case, a luxury occupation.  It did little to improve the world’s serious socio-economic and political problems.  That view changed for me when I started producing political art and it changed again when I was studying psychoanalysis and therapies.   Freud placed a great emphasis of the importance of dreams for unravelling the contents of the unconscious.  Art penetrates the unconscious and replicates the imagination and dreaming.

We know today that what the eye sees is not what the brain plays back to us after the many neurological signals are sent to various parts of the brain in order to carry out various tasks.  With this knowledge in mind, the real purpose of art is again being challenged.

Historically art has helped people to explain the world.  The most perennially popular topic of art has been the beauty encapsulated in a landscape or in the image of a person of outstanding merit and demeanour.    Scenes that replicate beauty offer a general optimism and cheerfulness towards life.   Beauty, helps to soothe the daily stresses of everyday family relations, work and life’s obvious limitations.  However, the portrayal of beauty has never been value neutral.  We cannot look at a beautiful landscape with reference to ownership of something that might never be possessed in the real world.

Historically, it was the task of the landscape artist to hide the implications of property relations, either directly or indirectly.  The English artist John Constable for example painted beautiful landscapes at a time when agricultural labourers were being transported off their lands and into the newly established industries; in particular the dark satanic mills.  These deeply anguished people were never portrayed in Constable’s works; such a depiction would have been far too radical.  However, the paintings were political in the sense that pretty landscapes also equated with conservation, a stance that was of immense value to the wealthy aristocracy who prized hunting and landscape over the ownership of a factory or coal mine.

In addition, Constable’s pretty works served to soothe the temperament of the proletariat because the pretty painting had another very important function; it aroused the emotions of sentimentality. Even today, the Constable images of vast verdant estates can be found in many homes scattered across the urban setting and this is because pretty art has traditionally provided a view of what most people cannot possess in a real world, to this end, beauty upholds the important purpose of sentimental dreaming.
Sentimentality and dreaming also gives clues as to the true purpose of art, which has been traditionally to feed the fell-good emotions.    Sentimentality draws the mind away from the world’s complexity.    Today, sentimentality confronts us discursively as a method of swaying public taste and opinion.  Sentimentality blurs the rational faculties of the mind and floods it with dopamine and body exhilaration.  The method has been used in advertising and political discourse, but now it has something to offer in healing the problems of world complexity.   In art therapy, sentimentality can be used is a soft entry into confusing personal and psychological problems.

Having once created a pathway into the real dilemmas of life through sentimentality, one can move towards creating a solution through optimism and hope.

Back in the eighteenth century the French Enlightenment philosopher Rene Descartes wrote a seminal discourse on the separation of the mind and body;  we are still living his legacy and seeing   minds as something ephemeral and beyond change.    95 percent of our brain processes are automated and while conscious thought leads us to believe we are in control of our minds, it is the unconscious that governs consciousness.   We do not know exactly why art therapy works, but we do know, as Freud did that it was a doorway to the unconscious.  We also know that we are the sum total of all that has gone before us and it is perhaps for this reason that art works as a therapy.  After all, it was art that came before language.


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What is Love?

0665In many of my group sessions I am constantly asked to explain what love is? We all aspire to find love, but the very term appears to cause a lot of confusion. Here are a few suggestions on how I approach the topic of love.
• Romantic Love Fades.
• Statistically, romantic love lasts approximately twelve months before it dissipates, usually because couples burn out when the high emotions and the physical expectations get too much to endure.
• Some people manage to extend their relationships by becoming more stable, but they are in the minority.
Why is True Love hard to find?
We often seek traits in other people we lack in ourselves; one being perfection.
• Humans and bonding
• The first love is a bonding. It takes place between the infant and mother. Early bonding with the mother will impact on how the adult will deal with relationships later in life and especially how they will deal with relationship conflicts.
• Secure bonding in infancy is paramount to maintaining good adult relationships.
• Children who are deprived of love and bonding will have difficulty in reconciling their emotions in adult relationships.
• However, there is great potential for changing learned behaviours…
Love really comes down to chemistry.
• Human brains run on memory and memories are transported through chemistry.
• Further, the majority of memories are stored in areas of the brain where recall is not always conscious. 95 percent of brain activity is beyond conscious awareness.
• Everyday the UNCONSCIOUS is making decisions, including decisions about LOVE.
• Humans arrive at the knowledge or feeling of being in love because they remember their bonding.
• Love is blind because biologically, love is simply brain chemistry and bonding memories.
• Chemicals in the brain trigger the feelings and emotions in much the same way as they trigger hunger and thirst. These are survival instincts that reside in the oldest part of the brain.
• Love and Lust.
• Lust is a temporary passionate sexual desire involving the increased release of chemicals like testosterone and oestrogen.
• In true love, or attachment and bonding, the brain can release a whole set of different chemicals: pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin.

  • Oxytocin also promotes bonding between mothers, children, partners, close friends and associates in order to protect survival. Oxytocin dampens the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system. Oxytocin is a pathway for rewarding, it feels good and thus it encourages bonding between individuals.

Love and Reward.
When people are in love the reward centre of the brain sends dopamine to the pleasure centre, which then craves whatever it was that was so rewarding. The reward centres are the same ones that become cultivated when people take drugs like cocaine.
The Loss of Love.
• Being rejected in love activates the pain centres (a part of the brain called the insula), which is the same region that is activated when humans experience physical pain.
• In order to divert pain humans are constantly motivated to seek out the source of pleasure, most commonly interpreted as finding love. To feel pleasure, is to avoid pain, but when it involves using someone else for the placation of romantic feelings it can backfire and double the pain.
• Falling in Love.
• Falling into anything can be painful. Falling implies a loss of control, a situation that can cause injury.
• Most people who fall in love are in the grip of a romantic fantasy, which can lead to disappointment.
• Falling in love can also be mistaken for falling into lust.
• When people are in lust they activate the very ancient primal instincts, which sit in the hypothalamus and the amygdala.
• These are the same areas that govern the fight-and-flight responses when the brain signals danger.
The amygdala manages the emotions and it governs the arousal of the body prior to action.
• When the rational mind goes into recess the amygdala takes over using the primal instincts for survival.
• The Fantasy Romance.
• Most romantic love fantasies act like drugs and directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine.
• Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation and feelings of pleasure.
• Dopamine energizes activities that feel emotionally positive, this can include applauding your favourite rock star, cheering on your chosen football team or fantasizing about romantic conquests.
• Dopamine triggers testosterone production, which is a major factor in the sex drive of both men and women.
• Memory and Addictions.
• When a human being performs an action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens and produces pleasure. It serves as a signal that the action promotes survival or reproduction, directly or indirectly. The system is called the reward pathway. When we do something that provides this reward, the brain records the experience and we are likely to do it again.
• Brain Changes by Association.
• Induced changes in the cells of the brain create associations between the first experience and the circumstances in which it occurred. For example, a small child might enjoy playing with a cat, but if a frightening noise occurs at the time of play the child will associate the cat with the fear the noise caused in the child’s mind. This makes all addictions hard to shift as there is generally a hidden association.
• A heroin addict may be in danger of relapse when s/he sees a hypodermic needle, an alcoholic when s/he passes a bar where he used to drink or when he meets a former drinking companion. A sex addict may resume the habit on falling into a mood in which s/he used to engage in the first encounter. A single small dose of the feeling itself is one of the most powerful triggers for further lust/sex/drug experiences.
• Stress is a big factor in all addictions, including love.

So what is real love you ask? To me real love is a commitment to be there when somebody needs you. Real love is not about romance or possession, it is about letting the person go and develop into the person they truly want to be.
My grandmother used to tell me that if you hold on to something too tight, the hands get tired and it will slip through the fingers; good old fashioned wisdom!

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New publication.


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Amorphous Cognition in the Work of Boinga Bob.

20160405_154527 Boinga Bob (Robert Prudhoe) is an outsider artist whose work spans more than forty years. I have known Boinga Bob since the 1980s and I feel very privileged in being able to bring a brief retrospective view of the artist’s work to an already attentive audience. This post represents a sample from a new book to be released shortly on the work of Boinga Bob.

The outsider art of Boinga Bob represents a unique niche in the alternative art domain both for the scale of his installations and the consistency of themes.  The work is significant in the way the artist represents places, spaces, texts, contexts and identities, whereby each modality reflects a unique and complex pathway in the artist’s thinking. More appropriately described as outsider architecture, Boinga Bob’s buildings capture the public imagination because he transforms objects in ways that astound and often perplex his audience.  At the same time, Boinga Bob’s work touches the deeper psychic centres of faith, critical discourse and questioning, especially in relation to what is meant by the category of ‘outsider art’. The knowledge of outsider art in Australia is very limited compared to other countries and there are questions as to whether the description outsider is even appropriate for what is more or less a branch of visionary art.  In addition, the term outsider is frequently marked as discriminatory as many outsiders are becoming commercially savvy and selling their work in mainstream galleries, which alters their status to that of ínsiders.


Generally, an artist’s motivation comes from nature, technology and the many experiences incurred over a lifetime.  Often this involves exploring history, sociology and the world’s rich cultures, sometimes the source of material is immediate, sometimes inward and likely to sit closer to home.  Boinga Bob mixes multiple locations, sets, stories, fantasies and combines them with many different cultural styles. Some influences come from India and Greece, others from Egypt, Alaska and beyond. Nothing escapes the imagination of this artist.  He has borrowed from monuments, texts and ideologies and made them his own.  Further, by using a vivid colour palate and skilled engineering Boinga Bob has created some extraordinary structures that have earned him worldwide attention.


Boinga Bob builds temples, he is also a philosopher in the broadest sense of the word who applies his thoughts about life and the universe to a mode of art that encompasses a variety of universal insignia. Geometric shapes and fractals cover his creations as do the collections of bric-a-brac.   In addition, the artist is in the practice of gathering ancient artefacts inspired by his archaeological interests. The blend is eclectic and meaningful.  Like many outsider artists Boinga Bob draws on his dreams and often his concepts are far greater than his opportunities for real exploration.  In this sense, many aspirations get transformed into abstractions and rituals that manifest repetition on a grand scale.  The result is a myriad of cosmic fantasies that include hybridized creatures; otherwise reincarnated hyper-deities that adorn the walls of his buildings. The hyper-deities also influence the multi-coloured glass in his asymmetrical windows. He extends the usefulness of stuffed toys and leaves them sitting and weathering along the roadside in a strange and regimented regime of transmutation. Art is never complete and with this in mind, the unfinished product (in the form of rotting artefacts) lends itself to a particular kind of artistic critique, one where material demise is a crucial sceptical of the life’s physical journey.


Most art analysis focusses on a particular time and movement. This work attempts something different, it explores the art of Boinga Bob as the embodiment of Hyperobjects.  The Hyperobject is an object that is extended beyond its original domain.  In linguistics the Hyperobject can be viewed in the same way as a metonymic word (a word into which one can inject many meanings). Hyperobjects transgress the boundaries of the ordinary and enter into the realm of phenomenology, which has its own relation to the human brain and its neural capacity to create great and often seemingly bizarre art.


Once considered an incongruous mix, neuroscience and phenomenology have recently merged to reveal new pathways for understanding human creativity. What is on offer is a more comprehensive view of what drives a person to create and why the production of outsider art is so different to   mainstream art; and indeed, creativity in general.  Mainstream art has become heavily rationalized towards market acceptability, it is either good or bad art.  Boinga Bob is an outsider artist whose work falls into the realm of non-dualism. The practice of non-dualism means ‘not two’ or ‘one undivided without a second’.[1]  It is a concept used to define various aspects of religious and spiritual belief and it generally reflects the discourses and practices  found in a variety of Asian religious traditions as well as in modern western spirituality. In scientific terms non-dualism is speculative.  In personal terms, it is active and real; art-is-art-is-art…  There is intrinsic value simply in the act of creating. That said, value are generally culturally defined and economically driven. To escape these rules, one must turn to the ultimate art of philosophy.


In contrast speculative realism is a philosophy that has transcended any metaphysical origins (metaphysical, being that which humans attach to people and things to alter meaning and perspective). What the outsider artist does in his or her work is to create a purely object oriented ontology (OOO) out of a desire for transcendentalism, but this also distorts the object making it metaphysical.


Transcendentalism has a long history, which constantly resurfaces through various belief systems. For example, one of the most recent gurus Osho speaks to his followers about the journey towards transcendentalism  and puts it this way:


  • Awareness cannot exist with duality, and mind cannot exist without duality. Awareness is non-dual, and mind is dual.
  • If you go outwards you will move into the world of duality. If you go inwards you will move into the world of non-duality; you will become non-polar.
  • Enlightenment is the realization of the non-dual.
  • When there is I, it creates thou. When there is I it creates duality, and all is lost in duality. When there is no I, then there is non-duality. Then you are one with existence, utterly one. Then you are nothing but a pulsation of existence itself, just a ripple in the lake of this infinite consciousness.
  • If you are divided in two, into man and woman, negative/ positive, darkness/light, mind/heart, thought/feeling — if you are divided in two, your energywill be going downward. Division is the way of the downward. When you are undivided, one, you start moving upward. To be one is to move upward, to be two is to move downward. Duality is the way to hell, non-duality is the way to heaven.
  • These are the two planes of humanity: duality, the plane of duality, what Hindus call DWAITA, the plane of two; and non-duality, the plane of one, the plane of the non-dual. When you are divided you are in this world; when you are undivided, you have transcended — you are no longer here, you have penetrated into the Beyond. Then boundariesmeet and the boundaries meet in you. So the whole effort is how to become undivided, how to become one.[2]


Many artists have expressed the feeling of oneness in their art and this has become a reflection of the non-dualism penetrating the real world; where it must inevitably take its place in the dualistic system of being and non-being; or being in.  The artist straddles the state of being-in, sometimes as a form of escapism; because duality always demands its own questioning and this can be anxiety-making.  Most artists live on the edge of heightened anxieties and placate these emotions through creativity.


From a transpersonal psychodynamic point of view duality is both an inward and outward phenomenon that speaks through many mediums including therapy.  All art speaks to the notion of a deeply felt intuition, which is linked on the one hand to quiescence and on the other to the fight and flight tendencies.  This might also be termed a kind of enlightenment, where meaning is the prefix to an object that disturbs the equilibrium. Objects are also experiential linking a kind of phenomenal unity of consciousness to the material aspects of life. However, consciousness is not a phenomenally unified field.  This becomes obvious when a subject might list all the important experiences that have been taken over time in the belief that there is a constant and unified flow of experience, when in reality something is always missing from the flow.  Firstly, we do not remember all our experiences and secondly, if we did no experience could ever be reproduced with any kind of accuracy.  What this means for art is that repetition is only a partial copy of the original.  What the eye sees is not what the brain translates or what the hand reproduces. Rather, what the eye sees becomes the Hyperobject.




I first encountered OOO in the work of Timothy Morton and his book titled Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. (2013).  Morton puts emphasis on the damage humans do to the environment and compares it to more universal forms of change.  For example, Morton throws light on the melting icecaps caused by global warming with a convincing argument that if we humans looked at the world from a non-anthropocentric perspective the melting ice caps would not be viewed as threatening or unusual. Morton’s point is that the chief stumbling block to environmental thinking is the image of nature itself. The same can be said of art analysis. We need to ask, what is art?  As humans we have already put a meaning on art that defines our position as knowable humans; but while art might be a human endeavour it is not a replica or humanity or anything close.  There is an ecology to art that is separate from its creators, one very good reason why it makes for a good module for therapy or to put it differently, the restoration of (w)holeness and well-being. the search for (w)holeness frequently dominates the artist’s thinking.

Environmental ecologists want to conserve nature and they propose a change in worldview, but the very idea to preserve the natural world leads them away from the ‘nature’ they are aiming to protect.  The problem, according to Morton, is a symptom of the ecological catastrophe in which we are living.   Art faces a similar paradox.    As Morton  states, ‘ to have a proper ecological view, we must relinquish the idea of nature altogether’. Morton argues: ‘When we try to visualize the environment we encounter entities that are distorted (anamorphic) and spectral (physical yet suffused with nothingness) To see the environment as Nature is to skip over the necessary step of facing horror and fear’.[3]  Morton’s views are a form of anti-humanism, similarly, outsider art might be classified as anti-art.

Just as we humans have humanized the earth with our presence and in doing so we have created a social construction of nature, which is not attainable, so too have we encapsulated art within an idea that is not attainable. The French philosopher Jacques Lacan in his rewriting of Sigmund Freud   argued that his produces a lack.[4]   Otherwise put, a void occurs, which might be translated into an incomplete form of art. For the artist is the work is never finished.   Lacan takes this idea from the first encounter the child has of his or her image in the mirror and the formation of the ‘I’ or the ego. This according to Lacan, lays out the parameters of a human identity as being always already decentred.   Before this time, Lacan suggests the child is little more than a body in bits and pieces, unable to clearly separate the I and other and wholly dependent for its survival the primary caregiver. The implications of this observation are that the I is the other from the beginning, but the other is also an intangible distant entity that presents as something to be desired not something one has.  The subject then always wants what the other has. Hence, the artist is always already engaged in creating the other as the desired Hyperobject. 

Morton believes that Hyperobjects are defining human existence every time the onlooker engages with them in much the same way as the butterfly effect suggests that small causes can create great changes and have manifold effects.   The Hyperobject harks back to the Pythagorean School and a more archaic mode of  non-duality that resists the philosophies of human finitude. In this way,  a human life is always recast as unreal as is the human’s art.  The idea was strongly opposed by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) in response to the European Enlightenment, but not without contest as science, like art, is constantly attempting to recast the unreal.

Transcendental materialism (and neo-vitalism) have reached a pivotal point in popularity because Hyperobjects have a ‘strangeness’ that is appealing, yet unconscious and it is this ‘unconscious strangeness’ that makes us strangers to ourselves.   The outsider artist attempts to get beneath this alien self by going beyond the artistic conventions.

The ideas encapsulated in Morton’s discourse on object-oriented ontology (OOO) suggest that objects have been misunderstood; objects are more a phenomenon than examples of tactile matter to be viewed or used as is suggested by object philosophy and the utilitarian arts.  Graham Harman (2010) interprets Morton’s  Hyperobjects objects by suggesting they try to ‘undermine’ objects by saying that objects are simply superficial crusts to a deeper underlying reality, either in the form of monism or a perpetual flux, or those that try to ‘overmine’ objects by saying that the idea of a whole object is a form of folk ontology, that there is no underlying ‘object’ beneath either the qualities (e.g. there is no ‘apple’, only ‘red’, ‘hard’, etc.)… or …that an object is only what it ‘modifies, transforms, perturbs, or creates’ ).[5]    This raises the question of what speaks?  Does art, and especially outsider art have a voice?

The notion of Hyperobjects upsets the Western ideas of perception because Hyperobjects are the holographic view of the world, a view, which the outsider artist lives daily within his or her perpetual cycle of chaos and creativity.   In reality, the philosophy of Hyperobjects displaces the historical constraints by transmutation of a wholly anthropocentric worldview. The animal is no long the animal comparable to the human, the human is also the animal.


Art and Neuroscience.

The juxtaposition between art and neuroscience first came to public attention because doctors and specialists needed to know how to better treat degenerative illnesses and injuries to the human brain.  The discoveries of brain plasticity offered the realization that different people see things differently. The question posed by neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran was simply this, we all look at art and we find all kinds of reasons for explaining what we see, but in doing so we forget one vital question: Why do we see at all?  The answer to this question brings together the functions of the brain and the functions of art.[6]

Art cannot function without the brain, but how well does the brain function without art? The brain offers an implicit record of human consciousness, it creates history as it selectively relays the experiential totality.  The brain’s totality includes a host of motivations and emotions, many of which are not conscious and some are innate.   It might be said that if the brain is the encyclopaedia of our life-world experience, then art is its index. To this end, psychologists investigating the relation between the brain and art call it higher order cognition.[7]

Following the Cognitive Revolution of the 1970s neuroscientists have talked about the way the brain replicates information through higher order laws and how this might determine the role art has in the structuring of society through the minds of its participating individuals.  Also, how the society can change through the production of its arts and culture.   In this sense humanity is constantly reinventing itself through the production and acquisition of the arts.  We might then talk about art as a mode of inter-subjectivity,  or what is it about art that moves us to laughter, compassion, admiration or tears. We can also talk about innate evolutionary processes commonly called visual extension or exaggeration or that, which becomes reformulated through the image production pathway and ends up becoming the dominant view; [8] the Hyperobject.  If we were telling a story using words we might compare these reformulation processes to a chain of signifiers where the narrative (or object of the narrative) gets added to (or subjected from) every time the story gets replicated. In art the replicated objects are magnified to affirm the existence of the original object, often to the point of obsession, the result is a familiar pattern in nature and human nature, meaning and method become subject to limitations, which only the imagination can alter.

For the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1929) repetition compulsion is a traumatic experience repeated over and over again.  It can happen in dreams and hallucinations.[9]    Many artists will describe seeing a picture in their head before beginning the replication, which acts as a replacement for the original image, but because the two images are not the same there is always an unfinished chain of images. This causes many artists to feel their work is inadequate, but it also prompts new creations. An important question is also raised, how important is art in the day-to-day world of replication?  In nature it is a crucial event most of us take for granted.

There are key factors in the replication of higher order laws, repetition being only one component; memory, perception and interpretation are also required to produce our material world, as is obsession. All obsession is commonly understood as commitment on the positive side and addiction on the negative (Hyperlanguage as opposed to a hyperbole). In art there is no avoiding the obsession with images, positive or negative; there is only oneness.  Images are all around us, they keep us cocooned and protected from whatever lies beyond, art brings those same boundaries closer, but with the benefit on inspection.

Freud attributed most human behaviour (and its pre-conscious images) to the sexual instincts, which are also the principle species survival instincts.   It was in his work Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) that Freud added the death drive, otherwise called Thanatos.   Following the Cognitive Revolution neuroscientists have hypothesized the idea that all art is the product of an innate system of laws wired into the brain, which are connected to the life and death instincts.  By examining the brain’s mechanisms and its ontological development from the primacy of vision to a different kind of vision attributed to the higher order of consciousness, scientists have speculated on the production and necessity of art both as a survival mechanism and a mode of communication.

It has been said that the eyes are windows of the soul, so what do the brain and art truly have in common? The eyes remind us that there is no unified flow in consciousness, something is always left out.  Similarly, art does not record everything seen, there are always missing components. The brain does not relay everything it absorbs; it selects what appears to be relevant. Art is unable to present the subject with the ‘real’ text or image.  Art tends to exaggerate or it transcends reality rather than recording reality accurately, the brain engages in the same process.[10]

Boinga Bob’s work is an example of where the eye meets the brain in a constant search for the phenomenological. In this respect, the artist tags everything with a universal message of Love and Light as a Hyperobject.    

[1] John A. Grimes (1996). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. State University of New York Press. p. 15.

[2] Osho.

[3] Timothy Morton 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press., p142 and plate 6.

[4] Lacan’s article, titled The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I (1936, 1949)

[5] Graham Harman, Prince of Networks, 95.

[6] V. S. Ramachandran [2001] The Tell-tale Brain:  The Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human.   New York. Norton and Co., p147.


[7]        Robert L Solso [1997] Cognition and the Visual Arts, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  1.       Braford Book. MIT Press, Chapter 5, p 101.


[8]        V.S. Ramachandran [1999] Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol.6, No. 6-7, pp. 15. 51, see also E. H. Gombrich, [1960] Art and illusion, a study in the psychology of pictorial representation,  Phaidon, Oxford/London and  E.H. Gombrich [1972] The Image and The Eye, Further studies in the psychology of pictorial representation, 1972, Phaidon, London and New York.


[9]          Sigmund Freud [1941] The Pleasure Principle, Harmondsworth Penguin Classics.


[10]  V.S. Ramachandran [1999] Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol.6, No. 6-7,  pp.

15–51 and V. S. Ramachandran [2001] The Tell-tale Brain:  The Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. New York. Norton and Co., p147.

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Zine Art and Politics.

Breaking news: the Victorian Government has just announced they will permanently ban unconventional gas and fracking — AND announced a four year moratorium on all onshore gas. This is a massive win for the community.  Can you share this graphic to celebrate?

Dear DrChris –

Fantastic news: as a result of the hard-fought community campaign, unconventional gas drilling will be permanently banned in Victoria!

Click here to share this graphic to celebrate the community’s amazing win!

Unconventional gas win graphic

You made it happen. Because people like you wrote letters, signed petitions and marched in rallies, the Labor Government was forced to listen.

Farmers, Lock the Gate, Friends of the Earth, regional communities and the gasfield-free movement ran a fantastic campaign that couldn’t be ignored. Share this graphic to celebrate victory for the community campaign against unconventional gas now!

We’re so proud of the role that the Greens and our supporters, like you, have played in this incredible campaign.

Working together with regional communities, we created a split in the Labor Party through the Parliamentary Inquiry into gas drilling. We facilitated more than 6000 submissions to the inquiry – the most in Victoria’s history! We ran strong by-elections in regional marginal seats which saw the Nationals and Liberals change their position on gas. We polled voters in inner-city marginal seats to show gas drilling was a vote-loser, and we toured regional towns to rally support.

This campaign truly was a joint effort of so many people, who should all be incredibly proud.

While we’re disappointed that Labor has left the door open to conventional types of gas after the next election, this is still a huge win. Together, we’ve protected our farmland, water and climate for future generations.

Thank you!


PS. Not on Facebook? You can still share the news about the community winning a permanent ban on unconventional gas, by forwarding this email to your friends.

Follow Ellen on Facebook and Twitter or visit ellensandell.comEllen Sandell is the State Member for Melbourne.

Authorised by L. Brown, Australian Greens Victoria, Lvl 1 362 Little Collins St, Melbourne 3000 | © 2015 Australian Greens Victoria

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Zine Art.



Zine art is coming to the Manna Gum Community House as part of the September School Holiday Program.  Examples gathered from a zine art workshop to be held during the school holidays will then be combined with that of local and international zine artists who have posted their work to the Community House in order to help establish the Zine Art Gippsland movement.  This movement has stemmed originally from the Manna Gum Community House art group, which meets at the Community House on Fridays at 12 o’clock to share lunch and a variety of creative pursuits.  Anyone is welcome to come along to this group and they can contribute to the workshop and exhibition.   In addition, these activities are expected to extend to other groups and organizations who may wish to take part.

The Friday art group offers an open space for anyone wanting to use art as a medium for relaxation, a social outlet, or for their experimentation and learning around creativity.   Much of the work is posted to overseas artists and this is reciprocated by other artists.  Sometimes art is passed on as a chain letter and added to by additional contributors, this is called zine art ephemera.  Examples of ephemera will be on show at the exhibition.

The zine art principle is based on diversity, equality and general well-being. Scientific evidence suggests that all art reaches into the body’s quiescent responses and promotes higher levels of physical and mental stability.   Science has shown that all art functions to communicate a story, which in turn, aids the preservation of memory and provides identity, security and roots within a given community.   Zine art widens the distribution and helps to shape compassion and understanding between individuals and groups.

Zine art requires no experience or particular skills; it is fun and it provides sharing opportunities as most of the art is exchanged with that of other artists enabling people to form collections of their own zine art.

The opportunity to share art with global artists not only increases ideas and new friendships, it helps to provide a picture of the Gippsland lifestyle and what the Gippsland communities have to offer.

On the 20th June 2016 the Manna Gum Community House officially launched Zine Art Gippsland by becoming a member of the International Union of Mail Artists (IUOMA), a collective with more than 4356 members posting envelopes and A4 size artworks across the world.   Zine art acknowledges that art comes in many forms and it should be available to everyone.

There is no copyright on zine art works and individual artists frequently choose to remain anonymous by choosing a colourful pseudonym, such as Desert Flower or Stripy Goose so anyone, even children can feel safe participating.

It is anticipated that Zine Art Gippsland will become a global outreach (see iuoma and that the Manna Gum Community House will be able to extend its profile beyond borders and perhaps to partner with similar establishments overseas.

There is nothing intrinsically new about zine art, it has been around since the 1930s and is mostly known for its pulp fiction illustrations and cartoon quips.  Today, zine art has been revived as a popular medium occupying the walls of city cafes and galleries.   In the 1970s zine art was used by particular groups to advertise their beliefs. By the 1980 zine art became facts sheets aimed at educating people on issues that the mainstream media omitted.  By the 1990s zine art included scrapbooking.

Most of the art consists of greetings or messages accompanied by drawings or collage, but just about any medium can be used including embroidery.  One of the most familiar pieces of zine art in Australia is the show of hands zine poster, frequently used to promote social unity.



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Garden Art.

Digital CameraI love to see art in public places and in bold expressions around the home. How uplifting, especially in the suburbs where everything seems to be a replication of the modern geometric shape.

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Inside Boinga Bob’s Temple.

001  Painting by DuBrae

This painting frequently pops up on the TV screens when the Temple of Boingaology (also called the Tree House) is in the news.  There have been constant attempts to demolish parts of the building due to alleged safety issues.  It would be a great pity to lose this iconic gem of outsider art.


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Psychiatry Gone Astray.

DP9 001In my practice I am constantly confronted with problems caused by anti-psychotic drugs so I have reproduced this article as necessary information for anyone considering this popular path for the treatment of mental illness (or what I prefer to call difference).

Myth 1: Your disease is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain

Most patients are told this but it is completely wrong. We have no idea about which interplay of psychosocial conditions, biochemical processes, receptors and neural pathways that lead to mental disorders and the theories that patients with depression lack serotonin and that patients with schizophrenia have too much dopamine have long been refuted. The truth is just the opposite. There is no chemical imbalance to begin with, but when treating mental illness with drugs, we create a chemical imbalance, an artificial condition that the brain tries to counteract.

This means that you get worse when you try to stop the medication. An alcoholic also gets worse when there is no more alcohol but this doesn’t mean that he lacked alcohol in the brain when he started drinking.

The vast majority of doctors harm their patients further by telling them that the withdrawal symptoms mean that they are still sick and still need the mediciation. In this way, the doctors turn people into chronic patients, including those who would have been fine even without any treatment at all. This is one of the main reasons that the number of patients with mental disorders is increasing, and that the number of patients who never come back into the labour market also increases. This is largely due to the drugs and not the disease.

Myth 2: It’s no problem to stop treatment with antidepressants

A Danish professor of psychiatry said this at a recent meeting for psychiatrists, just after I had explained that it was difficult for patients to quit. Fortunately, he was contradicted by two foreign professors also at the meeting. One of them had done a trial with patients suffering from panic disorder and agoraphobia and half of them found it difficult to stop even though they were slowly tapering off. It cannot be because the depression came back, as the patients were not depressed to begin with. The withdrawal symptoms are primarily due to the antidepressants and not the disease.

Myth 3: Psychotropic drugs for mental illness are like insulin for diabetes

Most patients with depression or schizophrenia have heard this falsehood over and over again, almost like a mantra, in TV, radio and newspapers. When you give insulin to a patient with diabetes, you give something the patient lacks, namely insulin. Since we’ve never been able to demonstrate that a patient with a mental disorder lacks something that people who are not sick don’t lack, it is wrong to use this analogy.

Patients with depression don’t lack serotonin, and there are actually drugs that work for depression although they lower serotonin. Moreover, in contrast to insulin, which just replaces what the patient is short of, and does nothing else, psychotropic drugs have a very wide range of effects throughout the body, many of which are harmful. So, also for this reason, the insulin analogy is extremely misleading.

Myth 4: Psychotropic drugs reduce the number of chronically ill patients

This is probably the worst myth of them all. US science journalist Robert Whitaker demonstrates convincingly in “Anatomy of an Epidemic” that the increasing use of drugs not only keeps patients stuck in the sick role, but also turns many problems that would have been transient into chronic diseases.

If there had been any truth in the insulin myth, we would have expected to see fewer patients who could not fend for themselves. However, the reverse has happened. The clearest evidence of this is also the most tragic, namely the fate of our children after we started treating them with drugs. In the United States, psychiatrists collect more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty and those who take most money tend to prescribe antipsychotics to children most often. This raises a suspicion of corruption of the academic judgement.

The consequences are damning. In 1987, just before the newer antidepressants (SSRIs or happy pills) came on the market, very few children in the United States were mentally disabled. Twenty years later it was over 500,000, which represents a 35-fold increase. The number of disabled mentally ill has exploded in all Western countries. One of the worst consequences is that the treatment with ADHD medications and happy pills has created an entirely new disease in about 10% of those treated – namely bipolar disorder – which we previously called manic depressive illness.

Leading psychiatrist have claimed that it is “very rare” that patients on antidepressants become bipolar. That’s not true. The number of children with bipolar increased 35-fold in the United States, which is a serious development, as we use antipsychotic drugs for this disorder. Antipsychotic drugs are very dangerous and one of the main reasons why patients with schizophrenia live 20 years shorter than others. I have estimated in my book, ‘Deadly Medicine and Organized Crime’, that just one of the many preparations, Zyprexa (olanzapine), has killed 200,000 patients worldwide.

Myth 5: Happy pills do not cause suicide in children and adolescents

Some professors are willing to admit that happy pills increase the incidence of suicidal behavior while denying that this necessarily leads to more suicides, although it is well documented that the two are closely related. Lundbeck’s CEO, Ulf Wiinberg, went even further in a radio programme in 2011 where he claimed that happy pills reduce the rate of suicide in children and adolescents. When the stunned reporter asked him why there then was a warning against this in the package inserts, he replied that he expected the leaflets would be changed by the authorities!

Suicides in healthy people, triggered by happy pills, have also been reported. The companies and the psychiatrists have consistently blamed the disease when patients commit suicide. It is true that depression increases the risk of suicide, but happy pills increase it even more, at least up to about age 40, according to a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients in randomized trials performed by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Myth 6: Happy pills have no side effects

At an international meeting on psychiatry in 2008, I criticized psychiatrists for wanting to screen many healthy people for depression. The recommended screening tests are so poor that one in three healthy people will be wrongly diagnosed as depressed. A professor replied that it didn’t matter that healthy people were treated as happy pills have no side effects!

Happy pills have many side effects. They remove both the top and the bottom of the emotions, which, according to some patients, feels like living under a cheese-dish cover. Patients care less about the consequences of their actions, lose empathy towards others, and can become very aggressive. In school shootings in the United States and elsewhere a striking number of people have been on antidepressants.

The companies tell us that only 5% get sexual problems with happy pills, but that’s not true. In a study designed to look at this problem, sexual disturbances developed in 59% of 1,022 patients who all had a normal sex life before they started an antidepressant. The symptoms include decreased libido, delayed or no orgasm or ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction, all at a high rate, and with a low tolerance among 40% of the patients. Happy pills should therefore not have been marketed for depression where the effect is rather small, but as pills that destroy your sex life.

Myth 7: Happy pills are not addictive

They surely are and it is no wonder because they are chemically related to and act like amphetamine. Happy pills are a kind of narcotic on prescription. The worst argument I have heard about the pills not causing dependency is that patients do not require higher doses. Shall we then also believe that cigarettes are not addictive? The vast majority of smokers consume the same number of cigarettes for years.

Myth 8: The prevalence of depression has increased a lot

A professor argued in a TV debate that the large consumption of happy pills wasn’t a problem because the incidence of depression had increased greatly in the last 50 years. I replied it was impossible to say much about this because the criteria for making the diagnosis had been lowered markedly during this period. If you wish to count elephants in Africa, you don’t lower the criteria for what constitutes an elephant and count all the wildebeest, too.

Myth 9: The main problem is not overtreatment, but undertreatment

Again, leading psychiatrists are completely out of touch with reality. In a 2007 survey, 51% of the 108 psychiatrists said that they used too much medicine and only 4 % said they used too little. In 2001–2003, 20% of the US population aged 18–54 years received treatment for emotional problems, and sales of happy pills are so high in Denmark that every one of us could be in treatment for 6 years of our lives. That is sick.

Myth 10: Antipsychotics prevent brain damage

Some professors say that schizophrenia causes brain damage and that it is therefore important to use antipsychotics. However, antipsychotics lead to shrinkage of the brain, and this effect is directly related to the dose and duration of the treatment. There is other good evidence to suggest that one should use antipsychotics as little as possible, as the patients then fare better in the long term. Indeed, one may completely avoid using antipsychotics in most patients with schizophrenia, which would significantly increase the chances that they will become healthy, and also increase life expectancy, as antipsychotics kill many patients.

How should we use psychotropic drugs?

I am not against using drugs, provided we know what we are doing and only use them in situations where they do more good than harm. Psychiatric drugs can be useful sometimes for some patients, especially in short-term treatment, in acute situations. But my studies in this area lead me to a very uncomfortable conclusion:

Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market, as doctors are unable to handle them. It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good. Psychiatrists should therefore do everything they can to treat as little as possible, in as short time as possible, or not at all, with psychotropic drugs.



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