Alphabet Soup

Posted September 12, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: gay-lite

Mo Varsity Jacket
The Mo Varsity Jacket in purple and green.

You may have noticed lately the growing accumulation of letters for each of the subgroups in our all-inclusive gay community. Even the Toronto District School Board has devised a questionnaire asking students, in effect, what kind of gay they are.

So far, as you no doubt know (or maybe you’d prefer a tongue-lashing from a lesbian), we have four letters — LGBT — and we are to be referred as such. We are all now LGBTixers. But are four letters enough? Is that really fair to all the unsung subcommunities in our proud counterculture?

Take the lesbians. They got it right: Started their your very own pride parade (womyn-only journalists please) and, while they were at it, they made sure, without anyone really noticing it was happening, that their letter came first. True, a lesbian can still call herself gay; we’re all gay. But more distinction was obviously required for gay womyn. Sorry, Lesbians.

To the question “don’t more folks deserve letters?” I say hell yes! It’s about time somebody brought us together with a festive gesture our true team spirit.

Well, here it is. A varsity letter jacket for <em>all</em> the teams at school.

  • L= Lesbian. We really owe a debt of thanks to our same-sex-seeking systers. They started it all. We can leave the task of rewriting our herstory in their hands — starting with the letter L.
  • G = Gay. You could argue that this letter should come first, seeing as we’re all gay. You could argue. But there are risks involved.
  • B = Bisexual. I know, bisexuals aren’t really gay. But they aren’t really straight either. That’s gotta be a jam. The least we can do can is sacrifice one little letter.
  • T= Transgendered. Now don’t start in with “but transsexuality is about gender, not sex.” It’s not that they are all gay.They can be straight or gay or gay pre-op and straight post-op or any combination of the combinations. The issue is that <em>we</em>, gay people, are all really, deep down, transgendered.

A measly four letters. Not very inclusive of us LGBTixers. Not to worry, though. Now we can welcome a whole new swarm of letters into the fold. Now there are letters for peoples you didn’t even know existed. Let our rainbow radiate with the glow of true diversity.

  • 2S = Two-spirited. A native term that doesn’t quite describe either gay or transgendered. But it’s a fascinating phrase.
  • Q = Queer. Ut-tut-tut. This is not redundant. You don’t have be L, G or B or to declare yourself queer. If you are a transgenderist of any ilk in any stage and also consider yourself gay, pull up a Q, you’re queer!
  • Q = Questioning. <em>I</em> wonder, don’t you? What about the population of sort of non-LGBTixers who prefer a more subtle title for their sexuality? Very intriguing; the definitive title “questioning” is fast becoming a popular one. We’re trendspotters. Let’s just give them a letter now before the straights take over the word.
  • Q = Queens. The final Q goes to the most gorgeous, most fabulous and most divine divas ever to snap their fingers, girlfriend.
  • B = Bears. Those big ol’ hairy beasts. If we don’t give them a letter, who will?
  • L= Leather. Ah, the sweet smell of cowskin. Our most adventurous (not to not mention kinkyest) have too long been stuck in the shadows of swings and chains. Time for a letter.
  • M = Married. We can’t just give our newlyweds a flimsy legal document, people. They need an actual letter, please.
  • OR = Open Relationship. True, there are still some whispers of controversy within the tribe about this group. Shame on those judgemental, envious loners. Despite the many moral (not to mention practical) conundrums strewn across their path of conquest, these brave souls forge ahead. Proud to openly advertise their open relationships. That’s got to be worth two letters.
  • M/OR = Married/Open Relationship. (See above.) Three letters? Consider, please: Being married and in an open relationship, a threesome is never out the question.
  • Y = Youth. The young bucks and buckettes of today are a new, different, and, they will gladly tell you, improved breed of Gay. One letter is all they’re getting, though.

And finally:

  • SS&S = Straight Spectators and Sponsors. After all, where would our parade be without whole families (including babies and hyperthermic dogs) baking on the broiling pavement waiting for the thrill of seeing a real live drag queen or leatherbear at our parades? Isn’t it our straight comrades who have made all our rights and liberties possible? And lastly, the Sponsors. Finally a much-needed influx of cash. Now really hot young go-go dancers can be purchased (without the worry of whether or not they’re gay) for our parades. Besides, without our sponsors would we ever have become a legitimate marketing demographic? And you can put your worries aside and rest assured that massive corporations are not simply appropriating gay culture to seem, by association, cool (to everyone but the LGBT2sQQQPMORM/ORs, that is).


  • Mo Varsity Crest LGBTBL2S edition.Symbol legend to follow.

Hurry! Disabilities For Sale Now!

Posted June 19, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: MEANCITY

wheelchair2_blue.jpgI’m driving down Bloor Street with my friend yesterday. Traffic is heavey.We’re barely crawling when he spots it; a brand new Rolls. Black and massive and gorgeous parked in front of Christolph’s.

We’ve checked out the Bentley’s at a dealership near my place but we’ve never seen a late model Rolls in the flesh. There a quarter of a million bucks so its not surprising.

I’ve made it a habit to check to see who’s parking in the disabled spots at my local Lawblaws.There are six dedicated spaces.Very rarely there’s perfectly average cars with actual permits. More often, any type of car with no permit at all.

But far and away the most common sight are immaculately clean, late model, high-end vehicles with the blue wheelchair cards on their dashes.

I also check to see who gets into these cars and it always seems to be able-bodied looking customers hurrying into their Benzes or Lexii or Cadillacs.

I guess I could ask one of them what’s up. But what are you going to say? Hey, lady, you’re seem to be pretty healthy; running around just fine and then you jump into a car with a disabled permit. Where’s the disability?

wheelchaired2_blue.jpgWell, maybe its invisible. That’s possible. Or maybe the lady’s just stepping out to grab some groceries while her paralysed husband waits in discomfort at home.

And, you know, you feel guilty questioning whether or not someone is disabled. Then you start wondering why you’re even wondering about it. There’s lots of wealthy customers at Lawblaws. Why wouldn’t some of them be disabled?

Except it happens over and over and over again. Rich, healthy shoppers getting to into expensive cars with disabled permits.

So as we’re approaching the Rolls I say I bet its got a disabled permit and sure enough …

This icon of privilege and wealth, the only car parked for a good half block, and the driver’s disabled. I just don’t buy it.

wheelchaired_blue.jpg“Disabilities for sale.”

We laugh. I eventually get the car turned around so my friend can take pics. He sees the same phenomenon all the time himself so naturally he’s going to want to document this.Plus he’s the one with the digicam.

I don’t know what I believe. Are these permits easy to get if you’re willing slip a little cash to a clerk at city hall? Are rich people the only ones who’ve figured out that all you need is a doctor’s letter to get one and after that there’s no worries because the laws aren’t enforced anyway? Or maybe I only notice the ones attached to fancy cars.

Because they do draw attention, those fancy cars.

Just to clarify:“Disabled person parking permits” are issued to the individual with the disability, the permit privileges are not transferable. The permit is not valid when displayed on a vehicle and the vehicle is not being used to pick up, drop off or transport the holder of the permit named therein. Persons who use a “disabled person parking permit” in the absence of the named holder, may be charged under the Highway Traffic Act.

Protocol for Threats of Imminent Suicide

Posted June 17, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: Uncategorized

bloorrevington.jpgYesterday my Friend insisted I read the web log of a colleague, Molly Holschlag. I don't know Molly aside from hearing about her and her many successes. I've never spoken with her and I'm not in her field. So why the urgency from my friend?

This is why:
"I am sitting in a hotel room in London. I have a minibar full of alcohol, and 80 Lorazepam tablets (2 milligrams each) and 100 friends within a mile radius."

I have had many experiences with depression so I guess my friend figured I might be able to help or at least help him help her.
By the end of her post I was very concerned for Molly.

"If you see me tomorrow, it’s because maybe I can figure out how to help myself instead of destroying myself. But I'm not sure that will happen, and I have only myself to blame. I have waited too long pretending."

There has been a steady outpouring of support for Molly' by her friends in the comments field and even more support behind the scenes to secure her safety I'm told.

But it got me thinking…
I don't muck around when it comes to suicide. ALL threats of suicide should be taken seriously. Statistics back me up on this. There's no question anymore that suicide is a major health problem.

Suicide Deaths, U.S., 2001

Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.

It was the eighth leading cause of death for males, and 19th leading cause of death for females.

The total number of suicide deaths was 30,622. * The 2001 age-adjusted rate** was 10.7/100,000 or 0.01 percent.

Suicides outnumbered homicides (20,308) by three to two. * There were twice as many deaths due to suicide than deaths due to HIV/AIDS (14,175).

Yet there' is no consistent and REQUIRED procedure for dealing with a suicidal person, even amongst professionals. There are recommendations, guidelines and certainly protocols for emergency rooms, EMTs and police. But they can vary from place to place and there is certainly is no way to become CERTIFIED in suicide intervention.

For the rest of us lay folks, there's nothing at all.

There should be.

Yes, you can go online and look up what the NIMH recommends or call a hotline on behalf of a friend or loved one. What they will tell you right off the bat is to call 911. That's not the problem. The problem is that we non-professionals really don't know how to identify a threat of suicide or what to do while waiting for an ambulance. Worse is the notion that we can handle our friend's threat ourselves. Reassurance and an open ear are vital, of course, but suicide can be a sly beast. A friend who you helped may seem much better, happy even, after you've talked. But what about the days after?

Suicide has such a devastating effect on family and friends. Too often they feel guilty for missing signs or not knowing what do.

Say your friend, (conscious) is lying on the floor clearly having a heart attack. You wouldn't just reassure them, listen attentively to their concerns and then once the heart attack was over hug them and then pick up leave. Nor would you decide not to call for help because they didn't want you to.

In reality if your loved one was at high risk for a heart attack you may well have learned CPR. In any event you COULD become certified in CPR. Its encouraged even.

So I'm thinking we need to use this model, CPR, and set up a course in suicide intervention. Maybe call it Protocol for Threats of Imminent Suicide. You could go to your local community centre, St John's Ambulance or health clinic and become certified in PTIS and in the event you encounter a suicidal person, you'd know what to do. This has certainly worked wonders for cardiac patients and CPR. Its saved thousands of lives.

I'm not qualified to design such a program. besieds, there are well tested recommendations already in place.

bloorbridge_-_0174.jpg** If someone is threatening to commit suicide, take it seriously. Be calm and follow these steps from ACEP to help you manage the crisis:

Don't try to handle a suicide threat or attempt alone. Involve other people. You don't want to risk your own health and safety.

Call 911 or the local emergency response number, if necessary. Contact the person's doctor, the police, a crisis intervention team, or others who are trained to help.

While waiting for help to arrive, listen closely to the person. Let the person know you are listening by maintaining eye contact, moving close to the person or holding his or her hand, if appropriate.

Ask the person questions. Find out if the person has a specific plan for suicide. Try to determine what method of suicide the person is considering.

Acknowledge the person's feelings. Be understanding, not judgmental or argumentative.

Remind the person help is available and things will get better. Stress to the person that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Don't promise the person threatening suicide that you will keep this confidential. You may need to speak to a physician or mental health professional in order to protect the person from injury.

Don't leave a suicidal person alone until you are sure they are in the hands of competent professionals. If you have to leave, make sure another friend or family member can stay with the person until they can receive professional help.

If a person attempts suicide, immediately call for emergency medical assistance. Administer first aid, if necessary. If you know the person swallowed poison or drugs, call the Poison Control Center. Be prepared with the name of the poison or drug used.

Molly writes today that she is feeling much better now. The overwhelming support of her fiends has helped dodge this bullet. She even spoke at her conference .Even better, she's going to seek out counselling or a psychiatrist. But this brush with suicide, however it is framed, means Molly's at a greater risk now. She needs for the people around her to know what to do should this happen again.

Perhaps Molly's very personal posting may seem a rare thing in the blogosphere (yes, I hate that word too). It prompted immediate and on-going comments of support. At least 50 at last count. But visit an online support group for a mental illness and you'll see many similar stories. The difference is in the comments. People there know that however many times its been said it must be the first thing you say in a reponse: Get professional help as soon as possible.

Photos:Suicide Barrier. Designed by University of Waterloo Prof. Dereck Revington of the School of Architecture and engineer Morden Yolles.

2. Luminous Veil by Jon at groundglass.

* From the National Institute of Mental Health : Suicide facts.
** From The American College of Emergency Physicians " Responding To A Suicide Emergency"

Hungry For Cool

Posted June 9, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: cool stuff

Practical And Paying for It





02-27-obelisk-chairs.jpg02-27-obelisk-2-.jpg Finally a really cool solution for the ever shrinking outdoor spaces squeezed out for the modern urban dweller.

It starts out as a 2001-ish monolith/obelisk and quickly disassembles into four chairs and a table. The wonderful thing here is that this is not some 'concept' design circa 1975. It actually seems to work. And more, the chairs look comfortable, stable and practical. Once you're finished entertaining, you simply re-build your obelisk and you've got a cool sculpture. Quite a design challenge which DEDON meets head on.

Of course at $9890 U.S (w/ cushions), those truly in need of space efficient solutions for their homes might be able to spot an obelisk rising out of the terrace of a million dollar penthouse. In Toronto? Count yourself lucky because for some reason the set seems available at studio b home (334 King street West E.) for a mere $7,760.00 Cdn. Go Figure. At that discount price you might well get a second mortgage on your condo to pay for it. Source and Authors/Photographers:DEDON.

Mac Gets Smarter


←Some pretty cool shit from GelaSkins, This is 'Toxicity' by Alex Noriega. Gelaskins is offering a dizzying array of iPod skins for a mere $14.95 U.S. (Plus if you buy three you get one free!).Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now I don't have an iPod (yet) but I'd love to wrap anything from a Palm Pilot or Blackberry to a laptop in some of these mesmerizing skins.

iPodgolfer.jpg← 'Golfer'. Perhaps the most boring skin. Its only hope seems to be as a gift for dad. But then again, how many dads have iPods? OK, maybe the hip or young ones but even they would want something a little cooler I should think.

iPOd worst.jpg← 'Summer 69'. While it may remind some of the patterns on their frocks from that era, to me it screams laundry room wallpaper, 1975. Does everything have to be revived? So this is ugliest one in my opinion. Chartreuse and brown. Hideous.

iPodbosch.jpg← 'Garden of Earthly Delight, Hieronymus Bosch.' Yeah right. Hardly a picnic there. Hieronymus really knows how to scare the crap out you. But I like this one. A proff once said "Its easier to depict Hell than Heaven". OK. True. But nobody does hell like Bosch.


← 'Farbstudie Quadrate, Kandinski'. This is hard for me because I really like Kandinski. But like almost every other skin (especially Bosch) it demonstrates one thing: How out of place the iPod interface looks surrounded by these fine works of art and graphics. The dial looks great, particularly here with Kandinsky's circles. But the completely artless graphics kind of spoil the whole thing. Don't ya think?

Except this one. 'Craotek by Craola'. Everything melds together nicely here. There's great colour and design and with this as your skin you'd be left with a forever fascinating object.

Truthfully though, they're all cool. And according to Gelaskins, made of high grade vinyl. You're listening to your favorite music anyway.So why not carry around a little art for added inspiration?

I Spy With My Little Radar

Posted June 3, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: Toronto

dupontsignED2.JPGI've been driving along Dupont street for years. Its a street rife with danger especially at some of the more notorious intersections like Dufferin, Bathurst or Spadina where it can be a very tricky manoeuvre if you're travelling north and want to turn left onto Dupont.

Cars emerge unseen, hurtling southbound through the intersections from under the CP railway bridges.Then there are the drivers who insist on bombing around the S curve right before the Kendal Avenue intersection.

I used to live on Kendal, only a couple of houses south of Dupont, and I always imagined a driver who's timing was just a tiny bit off allowing his car to take its natural course and ending up in someone's front yard or worse, in our someone's living room. (In fact I'm pretty sure there have been just those types of accidents).

Not that I don't understand the thrills to be had on and around Dupont street. A little G-force on the S curve or the heady drop-and-recovery from under the CP bridges. Even the dreaded left turns can sometimes feel like a game of chicken – a welcome test of reflex and driving skill in the otherwise aopressively dull, crawling traffic of Toronto. We are most of us Formula One wannabes at heart. Aren't we?

Its curious. Almost daily I see a car pulled over by police on the bottom of Bathrust street. But on Dupont? In the ten years living at various locations a stone's throw from Dupont, I cannot remember ever seeing anyone pulled over by police for anything.

Dupont has always been the Wild West of driving. Lawless – drive at your own risk – caution; this street is not supervised by lifeguards.

You can see, then, how completely bizarre it was to see what I saw the other night. Under a yellow sign reading 'YOUR SPEED' was a seizure-inducing bright red LED flashing the numbers '51'.It wasn't me travelling at 51KM/hr in a 40 zone. I was going about 45. Must have been the guy in front of me.

hammer and sickle suhsED2.jpgHow Soviet. Do they think I don't know how fast my car is going? It wasn't a camera (we have, and have had, plenty of those in various forms) so its not like they were out to covertly stick me with a speeding ticket. No, this seemed to be something much darker.Like an animal trainer repeatedly reminding his beast of its commands until it finally becomes completely servile. I wondered if the City was doing the same thing – brainwashing us into following their orders of travelling at the speed limit. I know we have a left-leaning mayor, and that's fine with me. But this new speed-mind control seemed downright totalitarian.

I suppose I should mention that I get just a little paranoid on occasion. It usually passes quickly enough and did so that night. Once it had, I jumped in my car to test this new toy out. This was around 2:00 AM, mind you, and Dupont was all but deserted. I drove down the street doing a good 60KM/hr right past the new radar machine and…

Nothing. The sign stayed blank. And has ever since.

What's going on you ask? Well first of all, as it turns out, this is not a new device. It's been in place since September 2005 as a part of the City of Toronto's 'Watch Your Speed' program which is itself part of a much broader initiative 'We're all pedestrians' to make drivers more aware of pedestrian safety.There were even some awesome posters put up on sidewalk garbage bins and TTC shelters though it could be argued pedestrians were more likely to see those than drivers.

Watch Your Speed Program
Four speed display trailers are used throughout the city in neighbourhoods with a history of local speeding. A sign mounted on the trailer reminds motorists of the posted speed limit in the area while the radar unit measures the speed of approaching vehicles and displays this speed back to the motorist.

AT first glance this seems a good idea after all. Slow people down with these display trailers on busy, speedy streets, especially near intersections and crosswalks. But the Dupont display (east of Howland Avenue) can't be more than 80 meters from a crosswalk at Brunswick and that just doesn't give speeding drivers enough time to slow down.

Besides, since first noticing it, I've watched several cars speed right past me without so much as a burp from the display trailer. Must be busted.

Speaking of busted. Though clearly this program is only at the beta stage you have to wonder if the city just might be trying to save a little cash with this technology. Wouldn't it be more effective to post some actual cops on Dupont and nail these speeders? Police are expensive I guess.

Just to be clear. In reality I'm a pretty cautious driver and besides I often have my right honourable friend backseat driving beisde me. A shout of "Cyclist!" or "Pedestrian!" can be quite useful in suppressing my Formula One aspirations.

Pedestrian Safety Statistics

* Half of all traffic fatalities involve pedestrians.
* Pedestrian Fatalities in 2004: 28
* Pedestrian Fatalities in 2005: 12 (to August 31st)
* More than 2,300 pedestrians are injured every year in traffic collisions (Average: six people/day).

News release: September 2005.


Display Trailer photograph (modified) by Joe Clark

Hammer and Sickle mock up by su'hs with no other source information.

Building Another Aircraft Carrier

Posted May 31, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: Architecture

gehrymodelED.bmp.jpg So Frank Gehry is building a skyscraper in New York city. The Gutter and Curbed seem to the think the real story is who got the scoop on the proposal. More importantly for NYC is the impact the tower will have on their city and for the rest of us the impact it will have on the future of architecture. This might just be the building that enshrines Gehry forever in the annals of history making him the grandaddy of twenty first century architecture. His reputation is so prominent and his buildings so popular its hard to legitamately critique his work.

On the other hand, it might be a massive mistake. But then I'm no Peter Eisenman and Frank Gehry is certainly not some young naive student. And yet…

It was a heady time for most of us when Peter Eisenman came to our school as a visiting critic, even though his lecture left many scratching their heads. I found his buildings bland and over rationalized.The lecture itself was cryptic and, as was fashionably Derida-esque at the time, labyrinthine. Nonetheless Eisenman was in the pantheon of Archi-Gods and I think I can say we were all proud to have him critiquing our work.

AT Carleton we were used to being ripped apart at crits. Our more notorious professors thought nothing of using the most fowl language to degrade and humiliate us in the name of…indoctrination I suppose. But there would be no nastiness with Eisenman in the house.

Besides, on that day, one of the best students the School of Architecture had ever seen was presenting his project.The Pit was packed. His design was magnificent. His drawings; intricate. Awe-inspiring.That was typical Edward. His skill and talent often putting him out of reach of other students' ability to even comprehend what he was doing.

And best of all, he actually seemed to frighten our professors into acquiescence. A glowing exception leaving the wolves stunned and emasculated by the power of his work which they themselves could never hope to match.

Not so for Eisenman.

Of course he wasn't cruel or even aggressive. That was a specialty left to the proffs at Carleton. But neither was he going to let his critical mind go to waste over Edward.

Chomping on a toothpick, as I recall, he reclined and then sprawled all over his chair, arms waving lazily as he began his critique.
"I'm not going to address the particulars of your design. You've obviously met and even exceeded all the criteria for this project. Instead I will tell you a story."

So he proceeds to tell the story of another very talented student. A young woman who, like Edward, could produce evocative drawings and mesmerizing designs. She had been deft at conveying both minute detail and broad architectural concepts.

But Eisenman started to notice something by the time he had seen her third or forth project. Even though each project had a completely different program they were each clearly derivative of ship design (a popular theme at the time) and specifically aircraft carriers.

The student agreed with Eisenman. She admitted she loved aircraft carriers, but saw nothing wrong with using them as a starting point for her designs.More than a starting point, however, her real problem was that her skills and talent could make anything seem compelling even if she repeated essentially the same design in different iterations. And, with all her talents, she remained unchallenged.

Now, she may have served the public well as an architect some day – may have eventually have built beautiful aircraft carrier-like buildings. But when Eisenman asked why she just didn't go into military navel design she replied that her designs were a metaphor. Uh oh. HIS point was that she was no longer challenging herself. If she continued to convince herself and others that 'aircraft charier' was a legitimate response to ANY program, she would become disingenuous and so would her buildings.

Edward said very little in response. They looked at each other and nodded as if some secret Masonic message were being passed between them.

kobefish.jpgIn the beginning (well after he had been in practice for a decade or two) Frank Gehry's buildings seemed so foreign they were beyond categorization. Giant curving blocks of volumes melting into one another. Ingenious – even troubling – use of materials like chain-link. Buildings whose skin appeared to be peeling away. A restaurant in Kobe Japan that looks like, no, IS a giant tail-flipping fish.

Read the rest of this post »

On when Is should be Has

Posted May 14, 2006 by queerconstruction
Categories: Polarities

mefullfrightblue.jpgmefullfaceleftblue.jpg He is schizophrenic. She is bipolar. He is a depressive.She is developmentally delayed. He is schizoid.She is mentally ill.

The illnesses may be frightening to some but if we're just talking verbs here none of the above sounds troubling, correct? In fact it's how we refer to people with mental illness and most often how people with mental illnesses refer to themselves. (Did you think I'd say the mentally ill?)They are their illnesses.

And here is how it works for just about every other medical condition. He has cancer. She has heart disease. He has the flu. She has mad cow disease. He has cerebral palsy. She has cystic fibrosis. He has multiple sclerosis. She has a fractured hip. He has AIDS.

This list goes on and on. Almost every medical condition one can think of is one in which someone HAS rather than IS something. Except when it comes to mental illness.

Imagine if non-psychiatric medical conditions were treated like mental illnesses. Lets try it.

He is heart diseased. She is cancerous. He is flu-ic. She is mad cowic. He is a cerebral palsyist. She is a fractured hip-er. He is an AIDSist.

Though rarely used in conversation or by physicians and especially not by people with these psychiatric conditions, its is possible to apply has to mental illnesses. However it is much more common, especially in the case of 'first-axis' disorders that a person inevitably is their illness.

How often do you hear "he has manic depressive illness" or "she has schizophrenia"?

I would be remiss for not pointing out exceptions in both categories. The exceptions are themselves informative. She has a personality disorder. He has OCD.She has an anxiety disorder.None of these are considered first axis and more importantly psychosis is rarely present. Insight is maintained.
There are also a few non-psychiatric conditions where people are branded as their illness. He is diabetic. She is hypoglycemic. He is HIV positive. In these cases we say is because the illnesses are chronic, life-long and and require substantial and regular medical intervention such as insulin injections, dialysis or prophylactic medications.Then there are those conditions which are poorly understood and especially those which are stigmatized.She is HIV positive? He is a leper? Why do we say such things?

But serious psychiatric conditions get the worst of both worlds. They are often poorly understood (by the general public and too often by physicians themselves) and deeply stigmatized. Add to that the necessity for insight in treatment and you have an environment that encourages people with mental illness to brand themselves according to their illness. The paradox is that only when you know you are ill can you begin to recover. Put more crudely; if you know you're crazy, you're not crazy anymore. Read the rest of this post »