Empathy in the Genius of Art and Art Criticism

Rembrandt van Rijn
Dutch Painter, Draftsman, Printmaker
Movements and Styles: The BaroqueDutch Golden Age
Born: July 15, 1607 – Leiden, the Dutch Republic
Died: October 4, 1669 – Amsterdam

The writer says Emanuela Cau has a lot of empathy, and she’s right.

This lifetime light came on then for me, I realized it’s why I prefer artists like Rembrandt and Cliff Eyland. Empathy.

Others who are good technicians, of any discipline, learned a technique and practised it, like anyone can, and that’s their work for life, some get incredibly good at it.

Based on the criteria of art is a record of the human experience, valuing the beauty of the handmade mark for instance, the technician is lost, all he values is technique, which anyone can learn.
He is likened to a recording where all trace of the human hand on the strings is removed, like photoshopped breasts, the ‘blemishes’ removed.

The technicians are crafty, clever and manipulative. Con-men.
Banksy is a good example for me. An amusing well executed one off. I have no interest in seeing his cartoons more than once.

I could look at Rembrandt’s feathers for days and have. “An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history.” – wiki.

Rembrandt never travelled in search of technique to copy. Lastman, Caravaggio and Rubens came to him. Why? Empathy, that made him the real deal, genuine, not a trickster not a scam artist.
His personal tragedy was great, losing several children and his wife, eventually all his money as well. This informed his art and his audience with humanity.
We have never seen Banksy, that’s part of his scam, like a bank robber we only see an effect.

Why do I value empathy? It’s those who don’t have it who have hurt me. The defining characteristic of sociopaths is their lack of empathy.
Narcissists are good at the technique of appearance of empathy, but they hate me for mine.
I make them look bad when I call them on the bullshit they use to make themselves appear special, usually by removing any evidence of themselves in their guilt and shame.

I hate bullies who try to make themselves look better by making others look bad. The art critics without empathy specializes in that technique and are my special disgust.

Art critics who care deeply about the human condition, like Paddy Johnson, are my special love, and when they call bullshit, I get a great feeling of satisfaction, and appreciation for the cost of their sacrifice.

People with empathy, like Rembrandt, don’t have what it takes to fuck people over, to be true capitalists and they often die in the poorhouse. I was born there and learned survival there. I’m used to it, so I have less risk in calling bullshit and being alone, and ill without funds. It ain’t pleasant but it ain’t terrible neither.
I am not dependant, and overly scared, using people with the technique of charm.
I have a very few friends and a few acquaintances, all with empathy, so I am rich beyond measure. It’s like having Rembrandt and his feathers to hang around with.
I would rather see the pain in the eyes of his self portraits or the love in those of Emanuela Cau, than the stone coldness of the words of a faked empathy used by a manipulator and a con man.

Everybody Looks At Their Poop

The nurses at the hospital where I lived for 6 months, recovering from a stroke asked sordid and squalid questions.
How are your bowels dear?
Did you have a bowel movement today dear?
Do you need a laxative dear?

Fine, Yes, No. The next person to call me ‘dear’ in that condescending fashion while speaking too loudly….were my thoughts on the subject.
Still I managed my frustration with humour, at least humour to me; nurses have none, zero, zip.

Fine how are yours? Said with a sweet smile…invoking the lewd and lascivious innuendo of anal intercourse. I could see the thought bubble ‘creepy old man’.

I did, it was monstrous, like giving birth…the female nurses hated that metaphor.

And finally the one they most disliked that invoked the most jealousy and competitive rivalry: no thanks I’m regular as clockwork. They detested that, because they weren’t. I was given stoney looks, the glare of envy.

Why? Because everyone in medicine is concerned with money. So they cheap out on food, low fibre prefabricated crap carbs that sit in the intestines like cement bridgework. AKA hospital food. They eat at work, they think laxatives are normal, stools need to be softened as a lifestyle. Hoarders all, money and poop.

The first month I was there, with little control over my food choices, I was plugged like the Hoover dam. As I gained control over my income through a grant from an artists relief association (pun intended) and a purchase of my work by Cliff Eyland, I was able to avoid the pizza and pasta and add broccoli and green beans. It was similar to being in a Mexican prison, no money no food kind of thing. I ate in the public cafeteria, 10 slices of bacon and a tomato please. They thought I was brain damaged.

The dietician, when I finally got a consult, knew exactly what I was doing, very familiar with wheat belly, grain brain lifestyle of low carb.
I mean the dietician was trying to get diabetics to simply reduce salt, and here I was, her star patient dumping sugar and carbs like grains, and not diabetic or overweight or constipated, her diet dream come true.
She ordered changes to my menu, eggs for breakfast, chicken thighs and green beans for lunch, beef and broccoli for dinner, sugar free yogurt 3 times a day. I still had tomatoes and bacon for an afternoon snack in the cafeteria. Of course the dietician was roundly ignored by the kitchen, and the food servers. You can’t live on that! as they dumped pizza and pasta on my plate. They thought, like many patients, I had stroke induced dementia.

Ever try to argue with a nurse from Nigeria, 6 feet tall, with a strong accent, a poor grasp of English and clogged bowels? She is boss with a capital B for bowel movement. It ain’t gonna happen, not from a wheelchair. Finally I got the kitchen supervisor and asked her why were they ignoring the dietician? I mean these people are conservatives, would vote for Trump, hate authority, they think they know best, that kind of loading dock mentality.

She gave me a survey to fill out, to complete with a pencil with not much lead, with my left hand, the dominant right being flaccid. One of my heroes, Lord Nelson, commanded a large sea battle of sail rigged war ships while tied to a chair and only his left arm to use, at sea, in a storm. All I had to do was describe my lack of satisfaction 3 times a day for a week . Easy peasy.

I once lived with a nurse, bat shit crazy hated the sight of blood. We would drive by a motorcycle collision, those are alway life threatening requiring immediate treatment, saying to herself, “I’m not a nurse, I’m not a nurse…” She worked on the psych ward and ate at the hospital for free. One of her colleagues went home every night got into bed and ate a can of cake frosting. She was skinny as a rail with a large belly, apparently.
While I knew my nurse/lover she had three operations for hemorrhoids, couldn’t understand why I ate from my garden in Victoria where we lived. She thought I was growing pot and screwing the neighbors. Eventually she met a rich abusive engineer just like her Dad and quit coming home at night, so I insisted she move out. I saw her and the engineer 20 years later, both looked bitter and hateful and plugged up. A good match.

I once dated a female engineer, met her in Starbucks, that bastion of dispensed diuretics and laxatives in grande form. She was dealing with ‘a depression’ as she called it, on medical leave. She was smart and loved sex, could talk about things other than oil refineries which she built, but bored easily and played with her poop. We didn’t last, the 50 shades of poop was a deal breaker. I decided I would wait for the movie, then avoid the void. She decided to hate me for cause: poop rejection. Love me love my poop kind of thing.

People obsessed with their poop do that.They hate everybody. You can spot them a mile away by their gait, walking like their buttplut is in a little too tight. They really got perturbed, those butt-plugged nurses, when they would grab my boiled eggs to peel them, unasked, and I would say, “did you wash your hands?” Guilt ridden they assumed I knew their shame secrets, and they were right, who wants fecal matter on their boiled eggs?

I was really glad to get a new home 6 months later and move in…still am…what a shitty experience that was.

Art as Choice

A professional artist (visual) after 6 years of 12 to 18 hours a day training, looking at images, the genius of art history, and a further say 20 years of practice, understands every pictorial element they choose to place in an image and why they made those choices. A composer knows every note on the page, a writer every word, of conscious choice.
Those who don’t are called amateurs.
The notions of subconscious theory of art making were made popular in modernity by Clement Greenberg, a non art maker wanting to keep his status as godlike critic, gatekeeper for the galleries, like Jerry Saltz is struggling to do today. Greenberg was against artist education famously saying ‘keep them stupid’.
The psychotherapeutic notions of subconscious and ego are from the early 1900’s, and have been long replaced by evidence based cognitive therapies. 
The evidence is I placed these visual elements together using educated free will and power of choice, based on the 800 years of history and tradition of western European Art History. I favour the use of the golden mean from ancient Greece as a composition technique for example. I choose not to use the history and traditions of Indigenous culture, or the cultures thousands of years older than mine of India, China or the Middle East.
That there are secret motivations (my subconscious sexual attraction to my mother and my ego wanting to kill my father to replace him) with secret mind powers that control my choices is not supported by known evidence.
Free will and the power of choice, grant me responsibility and authorship of my work, no one else.

Plenty of Fish

It’s not much to go on, my little profile. Quick decisions and a desire for perfection are a desire for loneliness and staying single. Also, to say that you can know me without getting to knowing me, is pretty offensive not to mention grandiose in your god like power to reduce a very complicated thing like a human to a few lines on a screen. It displays a lot of anxiety, and probably depression, if not full blown narcissism.
This is good information and your preferences describe you of course and not me. I would prefer someone who is not a perfectionist, who sees all humans without condition, who doesn’t see age or skin colour or religion or ability to walk fast or slow. Someone like me, and probably not you. I’m patient, my partner is rare as am I.

I am living the life, in a place I love, in the city I love. This is a choice and I choose to love myself and my life, and given half a chance, you as well. These are good choices. I’m a professional artist, documenting and commenting on what I love.
I don’t see age, once folks are an adult, or colour or ‘disability’ whatever that is, we all deal with challenges. That’s why I don’t prefer religion, new age woo woo and yoga cults. I tried them all and found them to be overly-authoritarian creating anxiety and depression.
I am not looking for a lifeline, someone to get me away from all this, and neither are you. We are where we want to be with goals for future satisfactions.
I am self sufficient, even while recovering from injuries, the part of life that happens to all of us, from time to time.
I remember when I first had a stroke, and in a wheelchair, some friends and colleagues wouldn’t be seen with me in public, even the coffee shop at the hospital, afraid of standing out in public, being exposed by being with a freak, a gimp. They were more handicapped than I was at the time.
Now I can walk, and drive a car, live not in hospital, that was 6 months of hell; it was full of damaged perfectionists, hating themselves and each other.
I am happy I exist and with my ability to create satisfaction in my life. I’m not waiting to have a life somewhere else at some future time, I’m doing it now, dealing with the hardships everyone has, then ignoring them and creating enjoyment. (www.jeraldblackstock.ca) This my self care and my responsibility, I take it seriously. Besides it’s fun. Care to share my enjoyment? I hope you brought your sense of humour, you are going to need it. 🙂

My artists statement, it says a lot about me:

I was born in the Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada, my grandfather was a homesteader near Blue Rock, west of Turner Valley. The Bow Valley has been my life.

After working as the art director at Chinook Plastics, where I supervised and produced the architectural signage for large projects such as the Cave and Basin in Banff and the University of Calgary I moved on to a career at Art School (Alberta University for the Arts) where after 6 years of study I taught painting and drawing. (c.v. attached)

By editing to create fleeting moments of exaggerated light, colour and pattern, my contemporary approach to digital painting has created a body of work that is brimming with nostalgia for my first homes (after the loss of parents): the streets of Calgary, and the mountains of the Bow Valley

The works are similar in spirit to Nouvelle Vague:

“From this passion for art they developed a belief in the theory of the auteur: that is, a conviction that the best works are the product of a personal artistic expression and should bear the stamp of personal authorship, much as great works of literature bear the stamp of the writer.” © 2008 Simon Hitchman

“(An artist) makes liberal use of artistic license to significantly embellish or change the circumstances of real-life incidents by any means possible” – Rosalind E. Krauss – Wiki.

With my emphasis on feeling, I’m a personal history expressionist. I relate to Alice Neel, who as “A successor to the expressionism of Chaim Soutine, Edward Munch, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Neel used distorted drawing and invented color to reveal the character beneath each sitter’s physical appearance. (© Artsy)”

I use the camera, editing software, a formal education in painting aesthetics and a lifetime of fine art practice to reveal what lies beneath; the poetry of existence.

How Do You Keep Them Down On The Farm?

My uncle “was a safe man, a jugger, a man whose specialty was opening safes by whatever means was most appropriate. He was comfortable with liquid nitro and with plastic explosive, he was expert at peeling, he could drill out a combination lock or cut a circular hole in the top of a solid steel safe. He had helped to tunnel into vaults, to by-pass time locks and to remove wall safes entirely, so they could be worked on at leisure somewhere else.” Butcher’s Moon – Richard Stark.
My uncle was a skilled craftsman, as devoted to his work as any fine jeweler. My Uncle Harvey was a hard case criminal, often addicted to heroin and a dealer, a famous guy, the first Canadian to be put in jail forever under the new incorrigible prisoners act. This, I believe, was a law instituted at the behest of Senator Patrick Burns, whose Burns meat packing safe was blown up regularly by my uncle, using nitro he made a few blocks away on Prince’s Island, a local lumber magnate.
I had my first painting and drawing lessons in the Burn’s building when it was run down and infested with artists.
My uncle shipped heroin from Vancouver via the Royal Mail (Canada Post) to my grandmother in Turner Valley, a micro town in Alberta, famous for the first oil well, where I was born into poverty.
The Mounties, who often got it wrong, raided my Mom’s house a few blocks away instead, ripping open the furniture while watched by 4 small kids, as my Dad, a former soldier and coal miner, lay dying of lung cancer in a Calgary military hospital.
My uncle, while languishing in his fame/shame in Canada’s toughest prison, Kingston penitentiary, as Canada’s first incorrigible, got a BA, an English degree, in prison in the 1950’s, wrote a book, Bitter Humour by Harvey Blackstock. He was released to Toronto upon publication, as evidence of his rehabilitation, where like a lot of career criminals and artists, he drove cab.
His book is a series of anecdotes about how crime doesn’t pay, reminding of the Coen brothers movies, in that it details a series of fuck ups and lost profits, a description made for the parole board to demonstrate his penance learned in penitentiary. I suspect it was a total fabrication
In no way, for example, does it describe how much fun he had, with the drugs, the sex workers, the excitement of making nitro and subsequent, explosions.
He was a sociopath narcissist, which he learned at his mother’s knee. Passed on from generation to generation, the reason why my father married one. Typically, he liked change, commitments weren’t for him.
He started riding the rails during the Depression, when my Irish Catholic grandmother sent half of his 17 younger brothers and sisters to the Salvation Army, for lack of food on the farm, to end up as 3 meetings a day AA cult recruiters.
According to his book, his drug of choice was codeine which medicated his chronic lung disease, a gateway drug to heroin. He rode the rails and was a small time criminal, breaking into drugstores for cough syrup, leading to prison time and higher education as a safe cracker and artist.
This was, and remains today in police circles, the current theory of gateway drugs and activities, controlling our free will and power of choice by some form of magic.
Personally, because I’ve met a lot of artists and similar convicts driving cab, I think he had a lot of fun, with like minded souls, prison as an artist colony.
Sex drugs, rock and roll, how can you keep them down on the farm?


Taking Back My Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships

REBT Self-Help Form

What is the situation that you are upset about?
     Answer: I put it together. Devastated by narcissist dumping, by a live in partner a business deal I made when I was preyed upon and vulnerable, followed by a fiancé business deal I made when I was preyed upon and vulnerable, followed by an art director dumping me a deal I made when preyed upon and vulnerable, followed by Ashram fiends that I made when I was preyed upon and vulnerable. Followed by being dumped by my minister at the church when I sought evidenced based medical help for the consequential loss. The vulnerability was in times of loss, transition, and I was their prime target, intelligent, and hurting, unassertive. Serial narcs all in a row. I was extremely susceptible to their love bombing. Source: Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships

What are the unhealthy negative emotions that you are experiencing?
     Answer: depression rage anxiety shame embarrassment hurt guilt jealousy

What self-defeating behaviors would you like to change?
     Answer: withdrawing, avoiding art work and social contact, I dropped art, went driving courier, procrastination about art and exercise then overindulged in feel good behaviors by overeating. It took several years to recover from the devastation, and become more self helping, with diet and exercise and learing a new art form that wasn’t a trigger, years of creative development.

What demand are you making about the situation?
     Answer: I MUST be liked and accepted, loved by significant others, perform well, or else I am an inadequate worthless person. This notion I was indoctrinated in since birth, reinforced by physical and emotional beatings.
     Dispute: Why must I? Is there any evidence that I am inadequate and worthless?
     Rational Belief: No there is no evidence that I am a useless unworthy person, that conclusion just loops back to the original self abusive statement and is self defeating, that I must do as others say or they won’t like me, and if they don’t like me I am a shit. That’s just slavery. Others likes and dislikes describe only their likes and dislikes. Not me, ever. This is motivating to make new public art and risk, actually guarantee, the displeasure of millions.

What are your new healthy negative emotions?
     Answer: sadness concern disappointment, regret about getting manipulated, even though it was hard to see it coming. I have learned recently that setting boundaries is my best protection, even though I will be disliked and called abusive for stating my preferences.

Warning: This form should not be considered a substitute for individualized treatment with a mental health professional. If you are seeing a counselor or a therapist, it is recommended that you print this page and discuss your responses with him or her.

Designed by Will Ross © 2006

Return to www.rebtnetwork.org

a letter to my cult recruiter

I wrote a post, https://jeraldblackstock.ca/wp/2019/02/13/social-anxiety/  about how I was groomed from birth, (part of a future publication on my deprogramming from the abuse of the cult recruiters of Yasodhara Ashram), by a narcissist borderline personality parent, which made me a prime target for the cult recruiters, Sylvia Hellman and Susan Oughtred.

Using the narcissist stare, these two emulated a mothers love, that unblinking bonding look a mother has for her child, and like my own mother, abusively used it for purposes of manipulation and creating life long dependance. 

Those gentle affirmations I saw today in your video on the Ashram site, that you are never quite good enough, but by buying more courses and donating more labour…..

Anything that puts a person down in this way is an abuse.
Any person who categorically dissects a person as being ‘unworthy’ is an abuser.
Any system (such as Kundalini Yoga) which does the same is fascist as defined by Dr. Albert Ellis. (https://jeraldblackstock.ca/wp/2018/03/21/the-case-against-religion/)

Susan, I saw your video, on the Ashram site telling people that they were losers, and they should send more money and give up more of their lives, to become people of self esteem, as defined by you.
This is a formula as old as time to manipulate with fear, obligation and guilt. Simply put, it is a carnival trick to sell snake oil. It goes like this:
1. You are broken, unevolved or whatever. Anything that starts with ‘you’ then describes you negatively is an abuse. 
2. I’m going to fix it.Yoga courses or whatever the snake oil du jour is. That’s the power imbalance of the abuser proclaiming her enlightenment or some such magic that you don’t have because of your brokenness. 
3. It’s going to cost you money. This is where they start raping your bank account, like any good con artist. 
4. You have to keep coming back. That’s the abuse of dependency creation, the money shot as they say. The reason you have to keep coming back is that it doesn’t work. 

In fact, as any ruthless leech knows, the victim gets sicker of course, and eventually either dies, I almost suicided, or gets deprogrammed at the hospital where this is well known, and I was smart enough to go and seek treatment.. The treatment is to start seeking evidence for your beliefs that you have been programed in: that you are a broken loser. There never is any evidence.

In fact the health system is the opposite of an abusive cult like Yasodhara Ashram in the following ways.  Doctors seek evidence, they are evidence based. They really like it when you don’t come back. It’s called a cure. In my country, initiated (there’s that word) by me and my friends in the Liberal party, this treatment is free. 100%
In contrast, your ‘treatments’ (leaching of time and money) cost a lot, hurts people, and they don’t work, based on evidence. They are extremely authoritarian, an attempt to keep control of and demanding inappropriate self sacrifice, such as giving up sex and other fundamental needs of communication and companionship.

People who don’t get their basic needs met for communication, companionship and sex become anxious, and the yoga woo woo (prayer, meditation, chanting etc.) is a good distraction from the intentionally induced anxiety, but not a cure. In fact the distraction from the induced extreme anxiety feels so good it gets called a spiritual experience or enlightenment.

Extreme authoritarianism used to induce this anxiety is also known as fascism. (What was it that Sylvia Hellman did during the second world war in Germany to survive? Another friendly fascist?)

People who don’t get their needs met for communication, companionship and sex become anxious, and people who stay anxious long enough became depressed, and people who stay depressed long enough suicide. All rolled up in a mother’s love, the narcissists stare.

So, this is fair warning, I will be writing and publishing on your cult and my deprogramming, and how I almost died, but got help, barely in time. So, using not only my personal experience with your organization, and you, in classes for several years at Radha House and Yasodhara Ashram, as well as commonly available references on cults and the harm you people do my intent is to break the shame at being conned by you creatures. My art site just past a million views, my work on my publisher’s site just passed 3 million views, my google reviews just passed 11,000 views. In the last six months. 
My references are:


The Practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: Second Edition. By Albert Ellis, PhD, Windy Dryden, PhD

The Case Against Religion – by Albert Ellis, PhD

Boundaries Are the Best Protection Against Narcissists, Borderlines and Other Predators –  by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

In a alternate universe Susan, we would have been friends and lovers, a great match in so many ways. Two artists, romantics, who love our cats Dear Jethro, Dear Leopold, and many other compatibilities, our love for music and dance, and for each other, for example.

These were the very things that made us vulnerable to charmingly ruthless, manipulative, competitive, jealous, cult recruiters in the first place. When we were starting to bond as humans do, so Sylvia Hellman sent you to Germany, to get you away, she had plans for you as a recruiter, your desires and your life didn’t matter, she planned to suck your very life away for her purposes. I didn’t matter either, fortunately as it turned out, I couldn’t recreate a mothers love as well as you, I don’t have the narcissist stare; the bait on the hook. 
Who says the hook doesn’t hurt the fish?

JeraldBlackstock dip. (Alberta University of the Arts), BFA, CPF.


Sylvia Hellman cult recruiter

Susan Oughtred cult recruiter

Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships


Who Says the Hook Doesn’t Hurt the Fish?

I am reluctant to date again, even a coffee date until I feel certain I’ll be able to detect all the warning signs. This is understandable. After being burned that badly, of course you don’t want to go through that kind of soul sucking, gut wrenching, heart breaking, mindfuckery ever again.
I can’t get together for lunch, she said, over a year ago, I’m very busy right now, overwhelmed. We are all busy, I thought to myself, you just said I’m not a priority.
This was after being bombed with attention by her, constant daily emails of concern and what turned out to be false empathy, done for the sake of looking good. Overvalue, undervalue, dump, smear campaign, an ancient protocol.
Boredom set in and she was off to a new ‘adventure’.
She didn’t care what she caught, she was addicted to fishing.
Who says the hook doesn’t hurt the fish?


Social Anxiety

There is a grandiosity and arrogance that says that I can have an effect on anyone’s choices. People make up their own minds. When setting boundaries with narcissist and borderline personalities, the response from them has always been to call me abusive. I call bullshit. According to Dr Tara J. Palmatier they are manipulating with fear, obligation and guilt.
“Bullies, narcissists and borderlines, whether they’re female or male, experience other people’s boundaries as a form of control and being held accountable as abuse.” – SHRINK4MEN

This has been a recurring scenario in my life in the past 15 years. I left a 9 year live in relationship with a narcissist woman, who was due to get Huntington’s Disease, who had found me by hunting for a nurturing unassertive guy, to be a primary caretaker when her disease kicked in. She waited till we bonded before she told me of her genetic future, the hook well set. Essentially, after I began to learn to set boundaries through the counsellors while attending art school at this time, her increasing response was that I am an abusive man, and eventually she ordered me out of the house, (similar to what my seriously disturbed mental health patient mother did when I was 14 testing adult limits). She went online hunting for another nurturing guy. She was coached by her long-time ‘friend’ (isn’t there always a ‘friend’ hanging about), an industrial psychologist named Fred Alder, who was also a cult recruiter and groomer, a.k.a. ‘minister’, for their Science of Mind church. Fred moved in shortly after I moved out, having left his wife recently under shady circumstances, involving getting caught having sex with my partner as it turned out. They had been at it for years, one of many affairs for my partner who typically bored easily, unable to deepen a relationship, but good at faking it.

After I moved out, I went to the hospital and found a family therapist, Dwayne Johnston, and an entire psychiatric staff to support and educate me. I was devastated, racked with guilt and shame, seriously depressed. I had been crying for six months with frustration. It turns out that I had been this way since birth, raised by a narcissist, borderline personality mother, groomed from day 1 to be her little adult-child caretaker. I had been repeating this scenario over and over with my choice in women. All of this is very common, the therapist, Dwayne, spotted it in 5 minutes, and the deprogramming education began, and continues today.

There were a series of books, Feeling Good by Dr. Burns, which led me to discover the cognitive therapies’ originator Dr. Ellis and REBT, whose base philosophy, Epicureanism,  I now use daily as a lifestyle to manage my emotions about life’s random and not so random events.

The hospital could only give me 10 sessions with Dwayne, and my issues didn’t require hospitalization treatment, I mean that’s how common the devastating effects, and treatment for recovery of narcissists victims are. So I sought a private cognitive therapist, Dr. Deb Dobson, an expert in anger management, since I was still convinced (programmed) that I was an angry abusive man, and she began to deprogram me from that self defeating idea for which there was no evidence. Frustrated yes, but with a lifetime’s ability for high tolerance of it, the key to success in any endeavor. It turns out that the notion, you MUST be ‘nice’ (unassertive) was used to manipulate me with guilt and obligation and fear by my narcissist parent and subsequent lovers, then the spiritual cult recruiters, my alternative strategy to daily pot use for anxiety, encouraging my self downing  and self hate for their purposes of fostering dependency. Encouraging anxiety as it turns out, then offering distraction for temporary relief: prayer, meditation and sex. Since we can only concentrate on one thing at a time, it’s difficult to be anxious when you are getting your brains fucked out or what have you. A temporary respite used to create dependance, instead of a cure. This had been going on through the church and my homelife and relationships of choice, since birth.

It turns out that the ‘cure’ is being rational. Is there any evidence for my self downing belief, and if there is, what strategy will I put in place to live with the situation or change it, and finally, what good can I make of this situation.

I was a victim of psychological slavery using fear, obligation and guilt. The main three notions that all people use to upset themselves were nurtured and encouraged. These people were well educated and used this abuse with intent, whether it was to secure a future primary care giver, or in my Yoga world, to get free labour and secure funds.

Dr. Dobson started with a book of strategies, to teach me to talk to people who scared me, so that now I am more able to be self helping by talking to strangers and asking for what I want. The biggest business deals and the the greatest love affairs all started with small talk between strangers at some point. Asserting Yourself, a step by step how-to-book. Very Cool.

I started with my coffee shop of 15 years, Cafe Beano. A meeting place for artists of all kinds, but it had recently (2007) changed hands, and started to go downhill, the music becoming loud and intrusive, among other things. In my assertive training book I learned that I have the right to get what I pay for, and I was paying for coffee and conversation. So I began to practice my techniques, and respectfully but persistently ask for the music to be turned down (ironically called the broken record technique.)

I was eventually and predictably thrown out. Told never to return. I wasn’t being ‘nice’, in fact, I was even called abusive, the usual smear campaign, and told there were customer complaints because I had recently taken up photography, and was capturing their cups, for all the world to see. Perhaps I was capturing rich closeted conservatives meeting their gay lovers, who knows. Dr. Dobson told me to expect this, and not take on too many situations at once, it’s kind of devastating getting used to rejection and takes time.

So here I am 12 years later, setting boundaries and asking for what I want, the only difference is now I am doing stroke recovery as well, I walk with aids and my speech is slurred at times. Narcissists are bullies and seek victims who can’t readily defend themselves. Consequently I have recently been dumped several times by folks not used to being stood up to by their victims that they hunt for and prey upon. These include the manager at the Eddie Bauer, Chinook mall who kept walking away from me mid sentence, apparently the attention span of narcissists is lacking, they get bored easily, and when I expressed my preference to finish my sentence, that was called abusive and I was banned from the store. The local gym, Repsol, banned me and threatened police action if I returned when a staff member walked into a private conversation between me and another stroke victim and was asked politely and assertively to come back later, ( I thought I was having a stroke event ) even then she ignored us and kept intruding, demanding attention like any 4 year old. Her pre-emptive move was to complain to management that we had abused her somehow by asserting our right to not be intruded on in a possible medical event. Gyms are narcissist hell, well, this one is for sure, complete with naturopaths and yoga woo woo. Namaste eh?

According to Dr Tara J. Palmatier , Boundaries Are the Best Protection Against Narcissists, Borderlines and Other Predators. And she is correct. This is the wolf’s bane, the garlic necklace to repel these leeches that prey upon us nice nurturing folks with round open honest faces, They are seeking to suck us dry of our time (our very lives) and money. Just mention evidence based psychology to your local minister, swami or similar cult recruiter and see them head for the hills, name calling as they go out the door.

This is typical narcissist behavior: overvalue, undervalue, dump then smear. For example, both the occupational therapist, and the Eddie Bauer store manager, used a lot of sexual innuendo and physical closeness in the overvalue flirting stage. Being well trained, and ill, I didn’t respond in kind, besides I wanted shoes and therapy, not sex. When I trotted out the dreaded ‘I prefer’ statement, such as, “I prefer to keep this on a professional level, I’m uncomfortable with your leg rubbing mine”, this was responded to by, “I’m the only neuro driver examiner for the hospital in southern Alberta, (a lie), you’d better get along with me (undervalue), or you will never drive again (dump).” I received my driver’s licence last week after a successful exam with a different therapist but I spent an uncomfortable anxious 4 months waiting for this to resolve itself, I was so nervous I only received a borderline pass, and I’ve been training professional drivers as a day gig my entire life.
The Eddie Bauer manager called me abusive and threw me out when I said I
preferred to finish my sentence, I but didn’t elaborate on the fact she constantly bent over and exposed her breasts as a seduction (overvalue) for sales technique. She constantly walked away in mid sentence (undervalue), it was when I spoke up that I preferred to finish my sentence, that I was smeared as abusive then dumped and thrown out of the store.

I doesn’t matter if it’s your church or coffee shop or gym, narcissists go to these places hunting, using charm, often sexual promise, as bait. When you refuse to be charmed by a stranger and keep your hand on your emotional wallet, and your penis in your pants, saying those hated words of self respect, I prefer, they get the message real quick. I try not to let the smear campaign as they go out the door, sting, in fact this deprogramming and information is a good technique for how to take the major sting out of this kind of loss, realizing that even high functioning narcissists and borderline personalities, like my assigned psychotherapist and occupational therapist at community stroke recovery, have no empathy, tend to fake it well, but really hate me for my empathy because it makes them look bad for not having any.
The community psychotherapist, a self proclaimed adult child of narcissistic parents, overvalue stage was to attempt to create emotional intimacy and sympathy by sharing that knowledge of her life. Essentially I was to care for her not the other way around. Her undervalue was to start shitting on my use of Dr. Ellis’ evidence based techniques (narcissists hate evidence) as passe and the dump was saying she would have none of it, she was a relational psychologist. I was in and out the door in 10 minutes, her screaming in the background, like any 4 year old. I had told her I found her abusive, and left.

Don’t even get me started on the Foothills hospital, that entire health system of evidence based medicine that I lived in for 6 months, day and night, is a coven of conservative Catholic cult recruiters preying upon the vulnerable and their families. The hurting overly dependant kids who have lost parents being a sexual predator specialty of record.
God is healing you, the nurse said (not most folks, just me was the seduction overvalue). Oh, where was the the fucker when I had the stroke? Asleep at the wheel? Filthy looks of hate (under value) and nurse abandoned patient was the dump.
I approached another nurse, James, wondering how do I deal with this brain damaged guy in my room, he was really angry and scary. James said that when he had these questions he asked his lord Jesus Christ. It was only after I was attacked, the trigger being I talk too loud, that his meds were adjusted and he was sent to the dementia ward for temporary storage.

Dr. Burns is his book, Intimate Connections, suggests that getting used to rejection is a necessary life social skill, we attain it by talking to strangers and asking for what we want then getting rejected. Social anxiety didn’t seem to ever go away, but it lessened, and I sure had a lot more fun than when I isolated. I felt safer knowing to expect the random leeches and how better to dislodge them. This self respect and self care has helped immensely.

Dr Ellis takes it one step further in his book, The Myth of Self Esteem. If I have self esteem I can lose self esteem. His simple and elegant solution is to dump the notion of esteem of my characteristics, because it is conditional and they can change in a moment, a stroke for example where one loses function. Better to do what I can to recover, say from a lost arm and leg, then ignore it, and focus on my strategies for satisfaction. I may not have as many choices but I still have some. This is self acceptance. So I lived in hospital dodging narcissists (they are everywhere) and spent each morning in the coffee shop, writing with my left hand on a tablet, doing REBT  self help forms and creating a blog which became my book. After I read The Myth of Self Esteem in 2007 I wrote a poem:

A Real Treasure

There is only one of me.

I am a unique individual, one of a kind.

Therefore I have value,

Whether I am young

Or old

Fat or thin

Tall or short

I accept myself as a unique work of art

Vastly interesting


Endlessly changing


Of limitless possibilities (I think of Steven Hawking, wheelchair bound, immobile, scientist, professor, husband and father if I happen to contemplate my `inability’ to create satisfaction in my life)


I am always in this process of change


I cannot be a finished perfect ’Anything’ (Insert label here [if you must])

This imperfection (by definition) has no bearing whatsoever

On my `value’ or `worth’

I have value or worth because I am a unique one of a kind piece of very fine constantly evolving art that has perhaps not existed before and perhaps may not again

And in my mind, so are you.

So I take pleasure in you, simply because I want it,

A real Treasure.

Blackstock ‘07


Well, it’s been a year out of hospital. I met a woman yesterday, a lifetime adventurer, trail runner, olympic class rower, ocean kayaker. It’s been like that, how will I challenge myself today? First it was getting out of bed and getting to the toilet. Then doing that unaided. The more you attempt, fail, and attempt again the more you can do. I love to challenge myself. The other way of looking at fear (terror on a bad day) is excitement. Recovery days are cool, I love to hang out and read. This is based largely on the philosophy of Epictetus around 2,000 years ago: “Men are disturbed not by events, but by the views which they take of them.”
I rented a special needs car for today, left foot accelerator and left hand spinner on the wheel, -30 snowing and I’m going to the mountains, me and my camera, to see if I can.
12 months ago the neurologist fired me, explained the freaky injury in my brain with a shrug; it’s life dude. These people don’t do guilt obligation and fear, these are not new age leeches after all. His nurse had asked me questions about what I can do, took measurements of range of motion, and pronounced that I had what they call a slight handicap. What? I can’t use my right arm and hand and can barely walk, I was sort of outraged. She said in our world that’s slight. Oh. I thought of colleagues in hospital who will never eat again, or speak, or remember. The movie Groundhog Day is based on a stroke event in a way, people asking me the same question every day, forgetting the answers of yesterday.
It’s all in how we look at things…
The mountains are my symbol of excitement in the attempt, the accomplishment is the journey, whether from the bed to the toilet, or the house to the mountain top, this is my strategy for satisfaction today. I have learned to rate that, and leave myself unrated. Self esteem is the worst disease known to mankind. This is the real recovery, the body takes care of itself.