A journal of post-civilised neurodiversity and wild mind
Unpsychology is an attempt to scavenge our own consciousness from the ruins of industrial civilisation. To trace a path through our current climate crisis of the mind, and find ways of living in whatever lies beyond.
In some ways, our feelings on ‘mental health’ have changed dramatically over the last hundred years. The great Victorian asylums of the past now lie derelict— mouldering reminders of the people (particularly women) who were shut away for everything from post-natal depression to infidelity. When we think of them at all, we congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come.
In doing so, we brush over the pervasive image of the ‘mad’ as knife-wielding psychopaths, when, in fact, those suffering from ‘mental illness’ are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. We ignore the growing medicalisation of the diversity of human expression and experience. Everything from bereavement and stuttering to anxiety and depression is classified as ‘mental illness’, to be ‘cured’ and ‘managed’ with clinical, evidence-based therapies, and the drugs provided by multinational pharmaceutical companies.
While some are undoubtedly helped by these methods, such a narrow paradigm also robs us of the basic experiences of life–with its births, deaths, righteous anger and distress. This is before we even begin to discuss those on the fringes of mainstream society: dominants and submissives, therian and otherkin, anarchists and activists, gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals, all of whom still struggle not to be classified as ‘mentally ill’.
Unpsychology seeks to redress that balance.
It re-affirms diversity and the independence of our own minds. It re-claims the psyche through self-education, self-development, and community-based support for the non-neurotypical. It builds new rites of passage to replace the ones that we have lost, and draws on the work of many other exceptional groups of people trying to live their lives beyond the confines of the medical and psychotherapeutic establishments: from the Hearing Voices Network and the Icarus Project to the Psy-Commons and the Dark Mountain Project’s Uncivilisation.
We seek to integrate progressive, imaginative and wild approaches to healing, therapy and development that makes sense in what sometimes seems to be a crumbling world.
The magazine (which we hope will be the first of many) is co-edited by writer and activist Allegra Hawksmoor and independent psychological practitioner, Steve Thorp, who is exploring these issues through his work on 21soul. We are looking for fiction and non-fiction, poetry and art, with a particular focus on the practical and generative. Some suggestions for pieces likely to find a home in this journal are:
How neurodiversity is handled in activist circles, and activist approaches to the non-neurotypical;
The relationship between mental health, hierarchy, culture and capitalism;
Articles which provide creative critiques of dominant paradigms and narratives of mental health and illness, wellbeing and happiness;
Suggestions for post-civilised rites of passage;
Mind-hacking and punking the psyche;
Stories of confronting and integrating the Shadow;
Ideas for community- and self development-based alternatives to medication;
Non-Eurocentric approaches to psychology;
Practical Jungian and archetypal self-development;
Activism in mental healthcare: How radicals are treated by mainstream psychotherapy, and the political role of mental health institutions on maintaining the status quo;
Therapies which focus on creating meaning, stories, imagination and soul, connecting and integrating the ecological, soulful and relational aspects of ‘self’.
Experiences of the mental health system from those who are transgender, otherkin or belong to other ‘minority’ groups;
Living with diagnoses and experiences of schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress, post-natal depression etc etc;
The environmental or ecological mind. Nature as therapy. Greencare and ecotherapy, and the imaginative integration of eco-psychological approaches with other progressive therapies.
Explorations of the the lives of John Clare, Louis Wain and other famous mad folk;
The psychogeography and urban exploration of ruined asylums;
Practical herbalism for the non-neurotypical;
Art, writing and creative pursuits as therapy;
Fiction with non-neurotypical protagonists;
A guide to the meaning and reality of dreams;
Mythical and allegorical stories serving as guides to dealing with bipolar disorder, eating disorders, autism-spectrum conditions etc;
Art and stories written by the non-neurotypical and those working outside (or within) the system;
Depictions of mental illness and mental health care in the media;
How-to guides for writers looking to increase their representations of non-neurotypical characters;
Meditative practice and mindfulness as tools for dealing with anxiety and depression etc.
Deadline: 31st January 2014
Word limit: up to 5,000 words (will consider works that run a little over) We invite all kinds of fiction, but have a particular interest in the speculative (for example, subversive genres like steampunk, cyberpunk and dragonpunk). Bonus points for anything that uses a fantastical setting to consciously reflect the truths of our world and societies.
Word limit: up to 5,000 words
Essays, polemics, interviews, memoirs and diaries, manifestos and biographies all welcome. We’re particularly interested in practical, ‘how-to’ style articles and guides, and have a bit of a soft spot for travelogues and travel journals.
Length: up to 100 lines
Poetry can rhyme, or not, as the author chooses. Our preferences lean towards lyrical and non-rhyming, but this is by no means a hard line. More than anything, we appreciate poetry that is beautiful in its darkness as well as its light.
Dimensions: 297mm x 210mm (A4)
Due to printing constraints we are only able to accept works in black-on-white, and are unable to consider greyscale pieces or photography. Pen-and-ink drawings, woodblock and linocut pieces are of particular interest. We’d also love to have artists involved who are interested in creating specific illustrations for the stories and articles in the ‘zine. If you’re interested in doing that, just send some samples of your work to the submissions email address below.
All submissions should be sent to:
vagrants [at] amongruins [dot] org
Fiction, non-fiction and poetry submissions should be in a easy-to-read font such as Arial or Times New Roman, and should be attached to the email in .doc, .rtf or .odt format.
Artwork should be in .tiff format for preference, and should likewise be attached to the submission email. We will also accept links to online portfolios of work.
As a therapist and coach I often find myself working with people whose deep awareness of the damage that human beings are doing to ourselves and to the planet makes them deeply unhappy. It is a rational and appropriate response; but sometimes we haven’t been able to develop the resources and responses to deal with this as well as we would like.
21soul is a new coaching and teaching practice aimed at helping people live and work authentically, deeply, ecologically and creatively in the context of these challenging times. It is for those who carry great sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, creativity and anger at the state of things.
21soul is an exploration of practice based on the 21st century soul that we all have to live with and through! It is for poets, artists, thinkers, practitioners; artisans, builders, writers; therapists, teachers, gardeners; musicians, naturalists, designers and visionaries; craftspeople, leaders and entrepeneurs; activists, greens, socialists, progressives, conservatives, integrationists; humanists, agnostics, believers and atheists. It is for anyone who wants to survive, thrive and be part of the change to come!
I’m looking to trial some of the ideas and structures and I’d like to offer you two freebies in return for two favours:
a free lesson and worksheet that will introduce the ideas of 21soul
a free 45 minute coaching session that will start you applying these ideas to your life and work
In return, all I’m asking is a couple of favours:
Some feedback on what value these ideas and practices might have for you and how you think these could be taken further
If you like what you see, then I’d be grateful if you could let anyone you know about the 21soul programme – you could tweet it, forward this email or just have a conversation with them and encourage them to join my mailing list!
*Note: there’s no obligation to take these any further – although I’d love it if you decided to join me on one of these deep, integral 21soul programmes in the future!
Something that I and other people deal with. All I can do is ask for forgiveness and try harder to not let my problems make relationships unbearable to be with.
This except I also lash out sometimes. Boop.
I can relate to all of the above. :/
Blood Falls, a Natural Time Capsule Containing a Unique Ecosystem
This five-story, blood-red “waterfall” pours ever so slowly out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valley. Geologists first discovered the frozen waterfall in 1911, and believed the red color came from algae. Its true nature turned out to be more spectacular.
Roughly two million years ago, a small body of water containing an ancient community of microbes was sealed beneath the surface of the Taylor Glacier. Trapped below a thick layer of ice, the microbes have remained isolated inside a natural time capsule, in a place with no light, oxygen, or heat.
The trapped lake has very high salinity and is rich in iron, which gives the seepage its red color. A fissure in the glacier allows the microbial subglacial lake to flow out, forming the falls without contaminating the ecosystem within.
More photos of Blood Falls can be seen on Atlas Obscura
Today, of all days, we should be thinking of you. You are sometimes gentle and sometimes strong, and the trembling life of you is shrugged into waking. There is only one way to regard you, and that is as an equal. More than. You teach me something from the other side and my task is to be humble in the face of you. And to wait.
And then you will enter mind and your wisdom becomes carnal. The saturated earth absorbs you. The heavy rainfall produces rills down every road and gulley. The seasons are turning and the swallows have returned again; pouring in black rivers across your morning vision, and swirling in clouds into evening.
You are with them all the way, and you flow downstream as gravity tells you to. I follow you, knowing that you will take me where I need to be, deeper into the land and further out to sea. And you carry the future soul of my granddaughter with you. Your lifeblood is only to be shed at moon-time. Gentle and strong. This is a dedication to you.
All this anger
must be distilled
will be pith and nub
the horny scute
protects the tiny
this tiny grain
enters the machine
to seize the
and break the frame
In this necessary
act of desolation