what a young transgender client needs from their therapist(s)

Emily Marie Williams, 2019-03-16
© 2019 Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc.

Who I am: Credentials or Something?

I’m not a psychologist, not a social worker, not a medical doctor. In fact, I’m not a doctor of any kind. Just a highly intelligent and introspective citizen scientist. (Yes, I hold a baccalaureate).

Oh, and I happen to be transgender: Thirty-nine years living publicly as a man, approaching four years living publicly as a woman.

And I’ve studied the science of gender identity in exhaustive detail; I happen to be a scientist by trade.

And I’ve seen more therapists than I care to count.

First Define Therapeutic Goals

All Ages

Let’s first define therapeutic goals, appropriate for transgender clients of any age:

  • Client learns they are responsible for their own learning
  • Client learns suicide prevention and distress tolerance skills
  • Client learns how to respond emotionally and socially to harassment and bullying
  • Client learns how to respond emotionally and strategically to discrimination
  • Clients learn the correct language and choose what applies to them
    • “Transgender” vs. “transsexual” vs. “intersex” vs. “transvestite” vs. “cross-dresser” vs. “genderqueer” vs. “drag queen” vs. etc.
    • Gender identity vs. sexual orientation
    • “Trans” vs. “cis”
    • “Transwoman” vs. “transman”
      • E.g., a man who becomes a woman is a “transgender woman”, not a “transgender man”!
    • Why the “T” is included in “LGBT”
  • Existential health:
    • Client will not need a theologian or a philosopher to tell them they are right with the divine and/or the universe
      • Although I admit it helps emotionally!
    • Client will not need an evolutionary psychologist or an anthropologist to tell them they are right with society
      • Although I admit it helps emotionally!
    • Client experiences daily joy
  • Client understands that a gender transition (of any kind or degree) will not cure all their ills
    • We all still have death and taxes
  • Client knows their legal rights in their jurisdiction
  • Clients are appropriately guided toward biomedical interventions, where desired
  • Clients become aware that the transgender community exists and is networked
    • We have a history and mythology, e.g.,
      • The Stonewall Rebellion
        • This was just as much about gender variance as it was about non-heterosexuality, a fact that the “mainstream” queer movement swept under the rug until recently
      • Joan of Arc
      • The Rebecca Riots
      • Tiresias
    • We have a music community (e.g., G.L.O.S.S., Trap Girl, Axis Evil featuring Napalm Fatale, Against Me, and QTPi Xpress).
      • Disclosure: I am “Axis Evil featuring Napalm Fatale”.
    • We have legal advocacy groups and work closely with the ACLU

Youth and Their Parents

All of the above-stated goals apply to youth, but parents play a greater role in their success:

  • Parents learn they are responsible for their own learning
  • Parents learn how to affirm and validate their children
    • Including respect for desired names and pronouns
  • Parents learn suicide prevention and distress tolerance skills
    • For both themselves and all their children
  • Parents learn the correct language, and let their children choose what applies to them
    • “Transgender” vs. “transsexual” vs. “intersex” vs. “transvestite” vs. “cross-dresser” vs. “genderqueer” vs. “drag queen” vs. etc.
    • “Gender identity” vs. “sexual orientation”
    • “Trans” vs. “cis”
    • “Transwoman” vs. “transman”
      • E.g., a man who becomes a woman is a “transgender woman”, not a “transgender man”!
    • Why the “T” is included in “LGBT”
  • Parents learn how to work with schools to attenuate bullying
  • Parents learn about discrimination and systemic oppression. They must be “woken up”
  • If parents are spiritual and or religious, find a faith community that proves supportive
  • Parents must learn and model joy
  • Parents understand that gender-related care for their family will not cure all their ills
    • Again, we all still have death and taxes
  • Parents know their children’s legal rights in their jurisdiction
  • Parents understand the array of biomedical interventions available
    • And the time dependencies of these interventions with respect to the onset of puberty
  • Parents need to understand that the body of research regarding transgender youth is slim
    • Parents need to understand that an active effort within the research community regarding transgender youth is identifying the difference between “is it a phase?” and “is it clinical gender dysphoria?”

As Long as I Can Remember

For perspective:  As soon as I realized there was a difference between boys and girls, I wanted to be a girl. Maybe two or three years old?

The feeling didn’t stop with puberty. Didn’t stop when I registered for Selective Service. Didn’t ever stop.

Where Seeing More than One Therapists is Appropriate

Having a client see more than one therapist at the same time is controversial, but I do it. Here is why it is practical:

Therapists who specialize in transgender issues are scarce and generally clustered around major cities. Therefore, it is totally reasonable for a client to see a “regular” therapist on say a weekly basis and see a specialist on a monthly (or longer) basis. Seeing a specialist at least occasionally is vital, as they have access to the latest clinical practice information and are one of the key gatekeepers for obtaining biomedical interventions such as hormone replacement therapy.

The “regular” therapist I referred to in the above paragraph can work on matters like distress tolerance, suicide prevention, family dynamics, etc.

Suicide Prevention and Distress Tolerance

The suicide rate is extremely high in the transgender population. (I don’t know how this breaks out between youth and adults—a later edition of this text will provide those details if they exist). Therefore, it is imperative that transgender youth, their parents, and transgender adults learn suicide prevention skills. “Skills” is the correct word here; we are talking about a set of learnable behaviors that save lives.

Distress tolerance skills are also vital; saying that living transgender proves distressing is an understatement! I’ve found Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) the best approach for myself and would recommend it to anybody. DBT is all about skills development.

Family Therapy

Family therapy proves vital as well, as poor family dynamics and abuse (if it is present) will not help anybody.

Also, parents may carry undue guilt that their child expresses gender identity issues—as if they were bad parents or something. While my research shows a possible heritable element of gender dysphoria, the same research supports a hypothesis of biological origin of the condition.

Murder Prevention

The murder rate among transgender individuals is high, especially for transgender women of color. A therapist and a transgender child’s parents must ensure the client knows how to protect themselves.

I carry a hunting knife in my purse and know how to disable an attacker by hand.

Affirmation and Validation

Through various channels (social, parental, religious, etc.), transgender children can get the message that their feelings are either “not real” or “bad”. This needs to be countered by therapists, and parents must be taught by therapists how to counter these ideas as well.

What a Therapist Should Watch For

While it is perfectly possible for a client to be both schizophrenic and transgender, the schizophrenia must be treated first, as it might be a source of gender confusion. For example, and forgive my shallow understanding of schizophrenia, a schizophrenic individual might have one or more feminine-identified “insides” and one or more masculine-identified “insides”.

Additionally, there are some homosexuals who are so homophobic that they would rather change their sex than accept their sexual orientation. Here the problem is acceptance, not gender dysphoria, and gender transition is not a clinically appropriate treatment. I can see this scenario playing out in a teenager raised in a fundamentalist environment. Interestingly, Iran forces homosexual men to become woman, as it is okay with transsexuality but not homosexuality. This probably does a lot of damage to these individuals’ psyches.

Adolescent Sexuality

All adolescents struggle with sexuality, but I think it is worse for transgender individuals. Therapists must be understanding of this.

One of the most confusing issues I faced in my youth was that for me as a teenager, I became sexually aroused when I wore women’s clothing. So, I couldn’t tell if I was expressing a fetish or something more fundamental to my core identity. Now that I am an adult and wear women’s clothing full time, this arousal no longer happens. In other words, my desired to cross gender lines cannot be explained by fetish alone.

A minor psychological theory that some practitioners still refer to, though it has largely been discredited, is “auto-gynephilia”. This model defines men who express transgender thinking as simply being sexually attracted to the idea of themselves as a woman (and female)—basically a “meta-fetish”. The idea has been used by hostile parents in court cases to prevent children from receiving appropriate transgender care. The major proponent of this idea—I forget who—is still alive and working for a major research hospital (I think; I’ll check on this detail later and update this document accordingly).

The problem is not with auto-gynophilic sexual fantasies, which I’ll admit even I have from time to time, but with the idea that that model alone fully explains male-to-female transgenderism. To put it in personal terms, when sexual arousal and activity is the farthest thing from my mind, I still want to be called “Emily” and “she”, and I still want to interact socially as a woman.

Feminism and Young Adults

Most feminists support us, but there is a small and vocal subset that severely opposes transgender individuals and their demand for rights. A young woman thinking of transitioning to manhood can easily be dissuaded by these ideas. This is okay if the individual decides so; but most members of this small, vocal subset of feminism are bullies and need to be taken through that lens. (We call them TERFs, for “trans-exclusive radical feminists”). TERFs often refer to female-to-male transitioning as “testosterone poisoning”, among other things. I won’t even begin to tell you what they say about women like me, because it is out of scope for this document.

A good therapist needs to be aware of TERF thinking and influence, especially when working with young adults attending a university.

I’ll Add More Later…

I’m sure I’ll think of more to add to this document as time passes.

evolutionary psychology and toxic masculinity

A well-known tension exists between evolutionary psychology theorists and feminist theorists. Feminists reasonably complain that evolutionary psychologists are simply reinforcing sexist paradigms—particularly the sexism that still pervades scientific inquiry—while evolutionary psychologists reasonably argue that their findings simply derive from examining our species’ mental adaptations necessary to ensure survival.

I’m not here to argue about which viewpoint is right. Truth probably lies in both modes of inquiry.

However, I’ve been thinking about “toxic masculinity”, a concept that wouldn’t exist without the feminists having identified it.

Let’s assume that “toxic masculinity” exists as the feminists define it.

Let’s also assume that toxic masculinity is a phenomenon we want to rid society of, that it is a bad thing.

Is it enough to simply think our way out of this mess? My experience suggests no. We need to examine the deep psychological pull of toxic masculinity, particularly in woman’s lives. (I’m assuming here without rigor that women are complacent in its social realization—part of the problem).

I propose that evolutionary psychology might explain some of this.

Assume that the patriarchy has dominated human relationships and individual humans’ self-realization since at least the time we settled down to start growing our food (about 10k years ago). Assume further that toxic masculinity evolved in men’s psyche as a way to maneuver within this patriarchy—that men who exhibited toxic masculinity prospered while men who didn’t exhibit it did not. Then it follows that natural selection favored the men who carried toxic behavior.

Women relied on men’s successes, and therefore it is possible that women who found toxic masculinity initially attractive (in terms of sexual/emotional arousal) would have more success finding a mate. Over millennia, natural selection might have favored this behavior.

Thus we may have a deep attraction to toxic masculinity written deep into our DNA.

Okay, so how does this help? If this hypothesis holds water, we know what we are up against and can adjust our cognitive reframing work and cultural change efforts accordingly.

lace punk, satin punk, petticoat punk, oh my!

This article was first published on the fashion blog Mad Hot and Artsy on 20 November 2018. Special thanks to them for featuring my content!

To satirize my proud (and adopted) feminine modality, I developed a personal clothing style I call “lace punk”, “satin punk”, and/or “petticoat punk”. It carries steampunk, burlesque, and pin-up influences; and emphasizes poise, class, and elegance. In other words, I give the appearance of “high class”. This combination kills when combined with sound posture and a confident stride—my satire has since evolved into a robust display of raw power.

Key elements involve millinery, corsetry, lace or satin gloves, heels, and frequent appearance in gowns.

The “punk” in all this is me: Accomplished hacker. Cyberpunk. Skilled guitar shredder. Free-thinking anarchist. These outfits tweak guys’ expectations when I talk engineering circles around them—“geek chic” never celebrated femininity quite like this.

I perform under the stage name “Napalm Fatale”. Have released two albums freely available at https://napalmfatale.bandcamp.com. Wrote an important article called “This is Transgender Music” describing this work and my musical goals.

I founded the company Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc. to pay the bills. Am extremely interested in applying artificial intelligence to the fashion industry.

new song: “3Jane”

Lyrics

Growing a new philosophy
is it grand design, or subtle folly?
The serpent was anything but…
…but this was an engineered forest,
its fruit a postmodern delight

Recording

Explanation

Wrote this sometime in the late 1990’s while working through my gender dysphoria (and identity and bipolar disorder in general) as a young adult. It is about humanity’s ability to hack everything, including our bodies. Changing one’s sex is a postmodern experience from a certain point of view, and it might be complete folly (but I don’t think so).

Artifact is nature.

I think starting my life as a man and becoming a woman at 39 was by God’s design. Don’t think any serpents are whispering in my ear.

Live Performance

fighting psychosis with psychosis

This method isn’t for the weak-minded:

But I’m not a bit weak-minded and the strategy described below suggested potential when I tested it on myself. (That makes this an n=1 study—hardly scientific—but exploratory research has to start somewhere!).

Background: I carry a long and well-documented case of bipolar disorder, and have become skilled at handling the “lows”. However, the manic “highs” still catch me by surprise. They come fast and full-blown, and I’ve often (until recently) acted recklessly when they occur. The resulting social damage proves costly.

Moreover, a full-blown mania often brings with it some degree of psychosis; realize of course that psychosis lies on a spectrum, it is not binary (sane vs. insane). For my part, I become grandiose and make decisions based on information filtered through that grandiosity, i.e., at some level disconnected from reality.

Now this state is basically a “drug high”, in that it is a chemical situation in my brain causing the mania. As a youth I tried cocaine and the feeling compares.

The psychiatric medicine I take controls the worst of the disease, especially the “lows”, but fails to inoculate me completely against mania. So I still have to learn how to effectively handle these “drug highs” as I don’t expect them to ever go away completely.

It becomes a management game:

So I got to thinking: “Why not intentionally induce manic psychosis in a safe, controlled environment so I learn how to pilot the condition?”. In doing so I’ll develop skill at managing unexpected manic episodes when I experience them in the real world–I’ll strengthen my mental power over them.

This is kind of like becoming well-practiced at meditation when you are relaxed, so that the skill proves easily accessible during an anxiety attack. (For me, the manic episodes impact me far more than anxiety, which also affects me; I’m just trying to draw a useful analogy here. In other words, I’ve ruled out meditation and mindfulness as short-term solutions to my mania challenge, though I’m certainly developing these tools for my long-term repertoire).

So I took a hit of LSD to induce grandiosity, euphoria, and delusional thinking; and then worked diligently and intently through the resulting altered state to learn how to handle the condition effectively, to learn how to take control.

The strategy worked! My recent subsequent manic episode came on quickly and intense, but I was able to recognize the state immediately and take appropriate countermeasures before making any reckless decisions.

Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysergic_acid_diethylamide.

how to be a rock star

Lesson One

Stop caring about what other people think of you.

Lesson Two

While nervousness proves a real, honest challenge, never let it show!

Lesson Three

Make it look easy.

Lesson Four

Be prepared! Strings break, equipment fails, batteries die, and sound systems and room acoustics often suck. Be prepared!

Lesson Five

The show must go on!  No matter how depressed or anxious you are, perform your absolute best!

See Also

this is transgender music

axis evil

lessons in sexual technique from a professional

This story is currently under review and revision to ensure use of respectful terminology and clear statement of goals:

“Become a world-class lover. Own yourself. Own your power.” – Emily Marie Williams

My research concerning quality sexual technique leads me interesting places, most of which I will not reveal.

On this website, I’ve previously discussed my agenda to strengthen and expand women’s sexual skill—to serve as a means for gaining social power—as a means of advancing feminism. (See my article “power and sexual technique” [1] for an explanation of this position).

Furthermore, while the current shortfall in the quality of intimate relationships greatly exceeds the realm of sexuality (i.e., most problems emit from abuse, poor mental health, unreasonable expectations, weak communication, and selfishness), it wouldn’t hurt if couples experienced better sexual play while they addressed these other matters.

To put my money where my mouth is, I’ve spent the last several months extending my sexual knowledge and technique. Until now most of that information has come from books, which proves a limited means of learning tactile skills. Certainly books provide information the brain needs to practice quality sex—as the brain is the most important sex organ—but at some point one needs to get hands-on training from an expert.

This article illustrates my recruitment of expert training, detailing a method readers can apply in their own lives:

I have a friend who works as the matron of a Mexican brothel. Not sure whether prostitution is legal in the rough-and-tumble northern border region of Mexico, or if it is merely tolerated. Nonetheless, I was staying at her house while enjoying the Baja sunshine and looking for a property to rent or buy.

(ASIDE: If you ever run into trouble anywhere in Mexico, the most well-connected person in town—i.e., the one that can help you the most—is the matron of the town’s brothel).

She introduced me to her friend who worked for many years as an international porn star, and who, after aging out of that profession, now turns tricks for a living. We carried on pleasant conversation for several hours.

I told her about my agenda (described above) for improving the lives of American women through improving their sex lives. I told her about my study of sexual technique.

Intrigued by the idea, she offered me a private lesson so that I can take new skills home with me to teach others.

I of course paid her the standard rate for her time, plus $50 to my friend for letting us use her bed.

But she did not merely fuck me.

Instead she spent three hours instructing me in great detail. I think it was fun for her—she appeared to enjoy sharing her professional knowledge—it was not just another trick with another client. (Besides, I’m a pleasant person to be around).

She taught me positions, tongue work, the best time to put the condom on, etc. We spent a lot of time on oral sex, with her demonstrating the best method on my hardware and coaching me as I returned the favor on her hardware.

Taking a cue from Tantric tradition, she taught me how to align my partner’s Chakras [see Reference #2] to prepare them for sexual pleasure. She taught me massage techniques.

She instructed me regarding etiquette.

As a whore, she taught me from a whore’s perspective: How to encourage shy men to touch, how to communicate with men, how to negotiate price with them. She gave examples of what some men like and what others don’t, and how to find out. The examples were pretty stark, reminding me clearly of her professional activity. For example she would tell me the differences between yesterday’s client and her scheduled client for tomorrow. She instructed me on how to deal with men’s differing erection stiffness abilities.

In other words, she taught me all the skills I need to become a successful whore.

Afterward, we spent the rest of the day together chatting like friends. I checked in on her comfort level with me several times, and I think her frequent answer of “si” was genuine. Further evidence for this came when she asked if she could share a bed with me that night—not for sex—not even for cuddling—just for sleeping. I of course did not touch her during the night, as we made no agreement permitting it, and she slept soundly to the best of my knowledge.

I’m just happy that, in addition to the skills I learned, that a woman who might otherwise be cynical about her clients genuinely enjoyed spending the day and night with me.

See Also

power and the art of seduction

References

  1. power and sexual technique
  2. feminine Chakras

god likes scientists

I don’t believe in astrology, but I do firmly believe in the Resurrection. As far as scientific evidence goes, both prove equally absurd. WTF? Why accept even one of them? Why not both? I have no good answer for this!

I could say that “events” in my life confirm my Christian experience, but that might be pattern recognition bias—seeing confirmation of my faith in patterns that my brain constructs out of non-patterned signal (because brains do that [1]).

Similarly, because I’ve never bothered to look for confirmation of astrological interpretations of my life, I’ve never “found” them in my life narrative. Again, pattern recognition bias.

Perhaps—and I am so completely unfamiliar with astrology to know for sure—astrology is about finding comfort in the universe’s design—that there is a “plan”. Is there anything in astrology that is meant to be uncomfortable? I don’t know!

The Christian experience is not comfortable; at least I don’t seek it out for comfort with regard to my place the universe. If God asks me to, I’ll perform God’s work in Hell.

Maybe its about love: I do not perceive that the universe as expressed as stars, planets, mass, and energy “loves” me. But I need to feel love and the Christian narrative offers that. The Resurrection itself is a love story.

Perhaps I created God in my image—an image of a human who needs love. And the need for love comes from evolutionary psychology; human-to-human attachment driving tribal cooperation, driving survival, driving gene propagation. The selfish gene [2].

“What is truth?” retorted the Pilate [3].

I’m going to continue trusting God and continue trusting my faith in God, even without these questions answered. And the God I believe in wants us to wrestle with these matters; God gave us brains and expects us to use them critically.

God likes scientists: “Doubting” Thomas just wanted evidence. He was not rejected for asking for it.

“Faith” and “belief” mean different things. I see “belief” as getting hung up on the facts—where science and logic matter to defining reality. “Belief” has its place: For example I believe in “F=m*a” at appropriate velocities and definitely believe in God’s existence and love.

But I do not emphasize belief in my spiritual practice, which is where “faith” comes in. “Faith”, in my book, is trusting the divine deep within my soul without needing to understand all the particulars about where things are headed.

Sometimes faith doesn’t even require much commitment to reality. I tell a story in my article “an allegory of affection from a Hindu goddess” about a visitation by Durga that I experienced during a dream. I do not worry about whether this visit really happened or not; the experience enriched my faith in the Christian god while enhancing my understanding of Hinduism. I’m not going to argue about what is “real” in this situation. Rather, I’ll just accept the personal growth that came of it.

This is the embrace of faith.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene
  3. John 18:38 (New International Version)
  4. The image below is copied from https://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Good-Scientist.

the “system” and all the bars on the cage

If you only see one bar at a time, you will not know that you reside in a cage. Here I attempt a systemic view, a whole picture. This work requires further refinement, but it’s a good start:

Update 5 August 2018

I received the following (welcome) response to this graphic:

I responded as follows:

If you only see one bar at a time, you will not know that you reside in a cage. The hope in this is that a picture explains quickly what takes 1,000 CNN and Huffington Post editorials to say.

I don’t know how to teach lateral, non-linear thinking, but hope lies in teaching young people that actions often have compounding and unexpected consequences. I know from being an engineer (engineers are the worst culprits of linear thinking) how easy it is to miss the big picture.

I summarized this concept in “Emily’s 1st Law of System Complexity“:

“For every reduction, there is a greater and opposite clusterfuck.”

My hope flies high, or I wouldn’t be writing my book, wouldn’t be mapping systems, wouldn’t be operating a business. And I usually operate “one soul at a time”–mentoring individuals, providing friendship, giving my best to relationships in the moment they take place.

It’s a labor of love, and love is built on hope:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

 

cybernetic cunt

I don’t own a clitoris and I don’t own a g-spot. But I posit that I “hit” them orgasmically using my mind.

The thing is, (I think) all humans hold the genetic code for this anatomy, regardless of phenotype. We all therefore likely possess the neural mappings “connected” to the activation of these nerves. Taking estrogen and suppressing my testosterone probably strengthens these neural pathways.

So take your brain and focus your next orgasm where you want it.

“Z-Spot” (Update 10 August 2018)

I wrote this post based solely on my own psychosexual experience, and therefore was pleased when my genderqueer friend Epochryphal read the article and stated that the idea also resonated with them. Sometime prior to our conversation they coined the term “z-spot” to describe the concept.

You can read Epochryphal’s fabulous blog here.

curvilinear optimism

Consider the following exponential growth curve:

This shows how the possible consequences of a decision do not just vary over time; the magnitude of that variance itself increases with time. For example, suppose you do something reckless like join the circus, start a business, or express love. You not only do not know the short- and long-term consequences, but the variance in the possible consequences widens as time moves forward.

So where is the optimism in this you might ask?  With uncertainty lies the opportunity to create exceptional outcomes!

Now consider the exact same curve, with completely different annotation:

When we make bold decisions, consequences follow. Then we must decide how to proceed as those consequences roll in. But the number of available good responses increases with time, because wisdom increases, data flows in, and time settles disruption.

Optimism is a skill.

thriving vs. merely surviving

Often I lose sight of my longterm goal (to thrive) to make room in my psyche for my short term survival goals related to preventing self harm. Realized this morning that this behavior only “positively” feedbacks into the distress itself—that giving a measured quantity of attention toward thriving will better dampen the distress in the long run. (We call this dampening “negative” feedback in control engineering—the terms don’t sound intuitive: In engineering, “negative” feedback is the good kind of feedback when you want to keep something stable [1]! See the bottom of this post for pictorial examples of the two types of feedback).

So on that note, here are two ways I’m directing attention toward thriving:

Mindfulness proves a well-known strategy for improving mental health [2]. However, the only mindfulness activity that has ever worked for me so far is live performance, whether music or giving a speech. So to increase my mindfulness time, I plan to increase my stage time.

Moreover, I plan to add a mindfulness component to my instrumental practice time. (This has never worked in the past—I become too distracted, but I’m confident I can substantially improve the skill this time). So I’m going back to basics: Fingering exercises on my sitar and basic stick technique on my new drum set. I’m relatively new to both instruments so think that the activity of building mindfulness skill as part of building my instrumental skills will complement each other well.

Inventory of successes: I’ve always been one to count my blessings, but now I’m adding a weekly inventory of each week’s successes. Writing them down. Makes me feel great. Directs my emotions toward states that permit delivery of energy toward thriving!

An Example of Each Type of Feedback Loop

Just extra credit for ambitious readers…

This image comes from [3]. The top part shows how negative feedback keeps a basic ecological system stable. Similar negative feedback loops regulate serotonin production by the brain [4], a key process in stabilization of mental health.

The second part shows how positive feedback causes both system variables, success and motivation, to feed each other’s growth. A mental health example: Consider a system containing only the two variables “mania” and “lack of sleep”. In a person with bipolar disorder, one will feed expansion of the other. This effect is known as “snowballing” by systems scientists; as a snowball rolls down a hill it gets larger, and as it gets larger, its capacity for adding snow increases so it gets larger still.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedback
  2. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/mindfulness-based-interventions
  3. https://www.scisnack.com/2015/08/04/why-negative-feedback-is-good-for-the-climate/
  4. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-3860-4_26

a corset and an LSD trip

I’ve dropped acid trice in my life, both times for religious reasons. The first time was on New Year’s Eve in 1993, and the second last Saturday.

During the latter experience I took detailed notes, which I may publish on this blog in the future. What can I say? I’m a scientist!

I respect the drug, so before each trip, I took prudent steps to ensure physical and psychological safety. So this last time I tripped while wearing an extremely tight-laced corset. You see, corsets make me feel cozy—like being constantly hugged. I wear them whenever I’m experiencing psychological distress, which is often. They comfort me. (Please don’t ask me to explain this right now—I know why, but I’ll save that matter for a later article).

I believed this decision helped keep me remain positively “grounded” during the trip; i.e., it limited the risk of a “bad” trip. I would have embraced a “bad” trip as educational, but I’m happy to report my experience went fabulously. Took advantage of LSD-driven thought processes to gain clarity regarding my love life and my frequent suicidal ideation.

More generally, I made sure to dress extremely feminine before proceeding. I expect this helped as well. Note the lace socks in the picture below. (Also note that I wore lace gloves during the trip which are not pictured below):