I recorded a new music album

Greetings all!  I just finished recorded a new music album — of thirteen songs.  They’re all original songs that I wrote, and I did all the guitar playing and singing (and some whistling too).  I thought a lot about how to present this album — in this day and age of fewer and fewer people listening to whole albums and more and more people listening just to individual songs.  I realized that I most fervently wished for this album to be listened to in its entirety — as a whole.  That’s how I like to listen to it.  It does something to me when I listen to it that way, something to my heart and soul — it brings me somewhere inside myself.  And I’m hoping it will do that for others.

For this reason, I realized that the best place for me to share it that way is on YouTube, as a single track.  That said, I recognize that some people might prefer to listen to one or another of the individual songs alone, so I also put it on Bandcamp, where you can buy individual original tracks for download.  You can also buy the whole album if you wish.  Although it would be nice for me to make some money from these songs I wrote and recorded, I realize that because of the content that they embody — all about healing from trauma, finding one’s own healthy way in this sad and crazy world, finding value in life — I realized that the money aspect was secondary for me.  Mostly, I just want to make sure that anyone who wants to listen to this album, anyone who might find some peace and solace and allyship from listening to it, would have access to it, for free.  And so it’s now up on YouTube.  The link to YouTube is up above (and here too), and here’s a link to its Bandcamp page, in case you want to buy/download it.

Also, I just revamped my music page on this website, which has links to my other albums and some songs I’ve put on YouTube.

So, warm hello to you all!!


Pandemic thoughts

Hello everyone!  I often feel neglectful of my blog, considering how much energy I put into my Youtube channel, so today I decided to write an entry here.  I chose a topic that, for various reasons, I’ve barely broached in video:  this pandemic.  Specifically, I’d like to explore how I’ve been trying to mine as much good as possible out of this strange and often unpleasant time.  It’s certainly thrown a monkey wrench into a lot of different areas of my life.  This has required me to work extra hard to keep my focus, to keep my spirits up, and to keep myself motivated and growing.  In that spirit, I’d like to explore some of the things I have been doing to make that possible for myself, and, just maybe, some of this will apply to others!

  1. I’ve had to work especially hard to keep a good routine.  A lot of my life’s regular, externally-defined patterns have been thrown off, so I’ve had to rely on my internal resources more than ever.  I have to make sure to keep a reasonable bedtime and to wake up at a reasonable hour every day, to eat my meals on a regular schedule, and to plan my days with some healthy structure.  I think now more than ever my life’s structure could go off the rails, and now more than ever I don’t want that to happen!  I’ve seen it happen to quite a few folks, and the results haven’t been anything I want to experience.
  2. I’ve been working hard to keep up with my internal relationship with myself.  For me this primarily involves a lot of journaling and a lot of maintaining a good, healthy, inner dialogue.  My life’s decrease in face-to-face social interactions has been painful for me, and I quickly came to realize that one way I can make up for that is to work extra hard to interact with myself: to check in with myself, to see how I’m feeling, and to help myself work through whatever I might be going through.  I don’t want to let myself fall through the cracks emotionally.  I’ve seen that happen to others, and it hasn’t been pretty.
  3. I’ve put in extra effort to keep in touch with friends on the phone.  This has been a lifeline for me.  Without that I find that the “new normal” of social isolation can have a very negative effect on me.  In this regard, I really feel for people who are more socially isolated than I am — and I know quite a few.  And most especially I feel for young children, who often are interacting with no one but their parents (and often their troubled parents) and perhaps a sibling.  I wonder how many children will come out of this pandemic emotionally stunted.  I suspect the number will be high.
  4. I make sure to exercise every day.  My method of exercise is walking.  I like to walk for at least an hour every day, and thankfully that is allowed in New York City.  I have a few places that I walk that have some trees and some semblance of nature, and I treasure this.  I even have a few special trees that I occasionally hug.  Although I know this sounds cheesy, even ridiculous, not infrequently I get a real emotional boost from hugging my favorite big, old oak tree!  Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I get a strange feeling that this tree loves me as much as I love it!
  5. I work hard on personal projects.  Although I have some work that I do for money (mostly video editing for others, and also proofreading, for which I am very grateful) I have been working on my own writing and video projects, and these have been a lifesaver for me.  I know some people who feel that this pandemic has just been a huge waste of time, and while I can understand that sentiment, I don’t want to fall into it myself.  And so I have a whole list of projects on my slate, and when I’m not working for money, I’m working on them!  These keep me going — and they brighten my day as much as anything else I can conceive.  This blog entry, for example, is one!
  6. I work hard to avoid negative things.  These include negative people (sadly, most especially my family of origin), negative things on the internet, and the wide variety of addictive substances that abound in our world.  Basically, I try to maintain a healthy, well-balanced life, because I want to come out of this pandemic as healthy as I went in, and hopefully even healthier.  For many people this is a time of increased vulnerability, and I have seen quite a few people fall into some very negative things in this past year, and I don’t want to follow in their footsteps.  So I practice self-discipline.  
  7. Finally, I make sure to have fun.  My main ways of having fun (aside from talking with friends) are cooking and eating new and tasty and healthy meals, listening to classical music, reading literature, playing guitar and singing, and browsing the internet (mostly nature shows).  This just helps me relax and, for bits and snippets here and there, just forget all the drama of the world and indulge my curiosity.

So, that’s about that!  And now it’s just a question of waiting to see what comes next, and when it comes!  Hopefully soon!

Books that I recommend (psychology, novels, and more)

I have often been asked to recommend books –psychology and novels and others — which I like or have found helpful on my life journey.  So I compiled a list, albeit an incomplete one, and a little explanation of why I found value in these books.  Also, I just want to add that I don’t necessarily agree with the entire philosophy or attitude expressed in all of these books.  Sometimes I strongly disagree with some of the things expressed — but still find the books valuable for various reasons.  Meanwhile, if you feel so inspired, feel free to post your own book recommendations in the comment section below!

The Drama of the Gifted Child (by Alice Miller):  Alice Miller, arguably one of the best published psychology writer to date, opens “The Drama of the Gifted Child” with this classic, timeless pearl:  “Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness:  the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood.”  An awesome book — its main flaw being that Alice Miller herself was deeply unconscious in so many ways, right to the end.  But still a key psychology book — and a classic. Continue reading

A little life update — and a hello

Hi Everyone. And greetings after a rather long absence. It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, and I wanted to say hello and share a bit of what I’ve been up to. Mostly in terms of creative output I’ve been making new videos — I’ve caught the video bug again. It’s been an intense and largely rewarding venture. And most surprisingly, one of these new videos became more popular than anything else I ever put up. It’s my video on “Six reasons I quit being a therapist” (embedded below) and as of the date of this writing it’s been viewed more than a quarter million times. This is totally unexpected. And the strange thing is, I really don’t know why it’s happened, because when I recorded it and put it up on Youtube I didn’t think it was particularly better than anything else I was sharing. But somehow it seems to have struck a nerve with a lot of people — and somehow that translated into Youtube promoting it with their mysterious algorithms. What I have learned from the comments, though — more than 3,000 of them at the time of this writing — is that there are quite a lot of people out there who have had very bad, painful, even harmful and traumatic therapy experiences, and really are trying to make sense of them. Most of the feedback on the video, probably more than 95%, has been positive, but some has been negative. There have been a few therapists and psychiatrists who have felt I’ve spoken incorrectly or in an overly negative way about the mental health field, though frankly, I think just reading the far majority of viewers’ comments contradict that, which I admit pleases me. (It also pleases me that quite a lot of therapists have found value in the video too — so not all mental health professionals dislike it.) Meanwhile, I’ve been making more and more videos. And I find a real pleasure in it — a pleasure, though, laced with anxiety and the inevitable self-doubt of creativity. But the pleasure of it drives me forward — the pleasure of creating, of speaking my mind, of sharing my life experience, and hopefully of offering some help and support to people out there in the world. It is very gratifying! So again, a warm hello to you all! Daniel

I just published two new memoirs

Greetings everyone! I wanted to let people know that I just published two new books—both memoirs. Both are quick but substantial reads that take place during a formative time in my life—my early 20s, right when my parents were breaking up and I was beginning my self-reflective life as an adult.

The first is a hitchhiking journey from 1993 called “Up the West Coast of Australia.”  (Click here to purchase on amazon as either a kindle or a paperback, or to read a sample.)

The second, “Five Weeks in China,” is a journey I took a year later, in 1994, to the People’s Republic of China via the Trans-Siberian Railway, after I’d studied Mandarin in my final year of university. (It’s also available on amazon as a kindle or paperback, and there’s a sample too!)

I’ve worked on both books for over twenty years—and finally decided the time was right to publish them. Enjoy!

P.S. I also made a little Youtube video sharing about the books.

The Dividing Line Between Crazy and Not Crazy

Crazy is not being in touch with reality.

Being in touch with reality means seeing things clearly, without the veils or filters known as defenses.

We employ defenses (e.g., denial, projection, dissociation) when reality is too painful to see.

Reality is too painful to see because we have unresolved historical traumas due to the actual horror of the realities we have experienced.

Our defenses make life more palatable to us, yet they’re all manifestations of our craziness.

To that end, we’re all crazy to some degree, to the degree that we have defenses.

However, part of the craziness of society is to only label as crazy a certain tip of the iceberg of the defenses.

The easiest people to label crazy are not necessarily any crazier than the rest of us, but only have defenses different from the norm, especially defenses that are difficult for the norm to understand or relate to.

On a macro scale, this is why it’s easier for people to label other cultures as crazy while failing too see the craziness in their own.

All of this, individually and societally, is a defense in and of itself, known as splitting (i.e., idealizing one’s own group or self and devaluing the “Other”).

By labeling some people as crazy and labeling “us” as sane or normal we don’t have to face our defenses, and thus our defenses can stay unconscious, comfortable, and intact.

Also, many people labeled crazy can’t function as well in society.

This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily any crazier than anyone else, and sometimes they may even be objectively less crazy, that is, better able to see reality.

To that end, a hypothetically completely sane person who pointed out others’ conventional defenses could infuriate them and cause them to project their craziness onto him or her and label him or her crazy.

Essentially, if a person stocked full of psychological defenses is just able to fit in and function, others like him or her will not consider him or her crazy.

This allows all sorts of objectively crazy behavior and attitudes and ways of thinking to fly under the radar of conventional consciousness.

Also, part of healing psychological wounds and the defenses holding them in place means slowly facing reality more.

This can be extremely painful, and for a time, sometimes a long time, this can make it more difficult for a person to function in society.

So even though a person is healing their wounds, that is, becoming healthier, they can be considered more crazy.

Also, many supposedly sane people are actually just one step away from being labeled crazy.

A few shifts in defenses, a slightly lessened ability to hide their defensive patterns, or a shift to an environment where different defenses are considered acceptable can lead others to look at them as crazy.

Is the Family System a Cult?

Several years ago I wrote an essay and made a two-part video describing the family system as a cult. The idea for these came to me during my process of breaking away from my own family of origin, when it dawned on me that what I was going through bore an uncanny resemblance to stories I had heard from people leaving conventionally-defined cults. I have since heard similar stories from others who have broken away from their families of origin: stories of being defamed, belittled, manipulated, pathologized, scapegoated, and shunned.

Over the years I have thought more about my idea of the family system as a cult. In line with that, I wish to test the idea from a different angle, and a more critical one, by seeing if the family system fits the Cult Information Centre’s definition of a cult. Continue reading

Musings on Procreation, the Rights of Children, and Our Disturbed World

  • Despite overpopulation and the inability of most parents to meet their children’s needs in a satisfactory way, people who have done little more than have large numbers of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are socially lauded, as if they have done something excellent and praiseworthy. I see and hear this every day, even in reputable news sources.
  • I recently saw a billboard advertisement that showed a picture of a set of twin babies. The caption beneath them read, “Double the love.” Continue reading

Paying People to Get Sterilized: A Hypothetical Proposal

I have a hypothetical idea to help combat the problem of overpopulation: paying people to get sterilized. We already sterilize overpopulated dogs and cats—and consider this to be humane and for the greater good. However, with cats and dogs we do not consider the issue of consent, which we must consider with people. That is why I propose offering people money to get sterilized—because it gives them choice in the matter. The decision then becomes voluntary.

Meanwhile, our Western society presently does the opposite of my proposal: we offer people financial incentives to have children. Continue reading

What would it be like to be the last human being on earth?

Unless a sudden cataclysm wipes out all of remaining humanity at once, there will someday actually be one final person alive. In my imagination, this human “endling”—the final, lone representative of our species before it goes extinct—would be conscious of himself and his situation. He would still have enough passion and desire to contemplate his existence and discern the meaning of it all. I imagine him as reflective, a person who wanted to make sense of his strange, final reality—the last in a line of a hundred or two hundred billion people.

Here are some of the thoughts and feelings I imagine he would have:

“I am so lonely. What a misfortune to be a member of a social species, yet have no one with whom to socialize.” Continue reading

Seven Mental Techniques to Let Our Abusive Parents Off the Hook

It is hell to hold our parents responsible for harming us. When we were little children, holding them responsible would have gotten us rejected, which for a child is tantamount to a death sentence. Yet if we don’t hold them responsible, and don’t ultimately heal the emotional wounds they caused us, then we remain emotional children forever—and still retain the terror of being rejected by them. This can be a fear worse than death. As such, many people use unconscious mental techniques to avoid holding their abusive parents responsible. Here are seven of these techniques:

1) Blame intergenerational trauma

Although there is no doubt that traumatic patterns get passed on through the generations, the mechanism for the transmission of intergenerational trauma is child abuse, that is, parents replicating their own childhood traumas on their children. Continue reading

People Live in Bubbles

While recently reading a book about living a more healthy, green, organically-oriented lifestyle, I found myself struck by the idea that I was reading an instruction guide on how to live more snugly in a bubble separated from nature: separated from the natural world and all the toxins and garbage that we’ve dumped into it. Ironically, this book also extolled the virtues of spending time in nature, though its supposedly nature-loving author failed to acknowledge how he (and most of us) lived under completely different rules from the wildlife of nature. The animals of nature, after all, live outside the bubble. Continue reading

“The Education of Little Tree”: A Psychological Exploration of How a Racist Wrote a Great Anti-Racist Novel

education of little treeThe Education of Little Tree” is one of my favorite novels.  Published in 1976, it is a poignant and tender tale of an orphaned part-Cherokee boy named Little Tree who is raised by his half-Cherokee grandfather and full-Cherokee grandmother in the mountains of North Carolina during Prohibition.  It is also one of the most anti-racist books I have read.  Yet its author, Asa Earl Carter, who published it under the pen name of Forrest Carter to hide his identity, had about as racist a history as anyone in 20th century American history.  He was a violent Ku Klux Klan leader, an outspoken segregationist and anti-Semite, and a speechwriter and politician who ran (and lost) in his last election, for governor of Alabama in 1970, on a racist platform.  This is, to say the least, a major curiosity.

The New York Times, which outed Carter for his real identity, denounced him and labeled his book a sham that exploits Native Americans.  Continue reading

A Whole Bunch of New Songs

Hi everyone! I haven’t written a blog post in forever — over a year-and-a-half. My apologies! So, in the last couple of years I’ve been playing a lot more music, and some months ago I got around to recording a whole bunch of original songs, some new and some old. Some I recorded on more professional equipment, and others spontaneously with the camera on my computer. Some are a little long, some shorter.  One is completely in Polish.  Another is sung by my friend Rebecca Stabile (I sing harmony on it). Most are gentle and direct, though at least one that I’ve shared publicly so far (“Stupid People Have Children”) seems to annoy a significant percentage of people who have watched it.  Please skip it if you think it’ll only put you in a bad mood!  Meanwhile, here they are. (P.S. I included a video here called the “Godfather Video Game.” I didn’t write that music but I did all the rest, and oh it was fun.  P.P.S. I will be putting out more songs soon.)

Essay on “Mad in America” titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?”

For those interested, I just put up a new essay on the blog “Mad in America”, titled “Is My Therapist Good or Not?“. It was a risk for me to place this essay there, because some of the essay’s ideas, such as a good therapist wouldn’t have children and wouldn’t preach forgiveness of parents, are not in synch with conventional thinking.   I assumed these ideas would meet with backlash from more conventional readers, and from the comments of the first few hours, this has proven to be the case.  I am finding responding to be an interesting experience.  It gets me thinking – and offers me a chance to engage in dialogue.

Fear About My New Life: A Personal Essay

I am full of fear about my new life.  I am planning, with my friend Fred Timm, to start a not-for-profit organization called Conscious Community — a hub, online and also in-person, for people interested in and dedicated to becoming more conscious.  This is the first time I have spoken publicly abdaniel chillin in africa_smallerout this group.  We have been working hard on formulating its principles for some time and it’s almost ready to go.  I don’t want to say much more about it right now, beyond that its ideas are in synch with the values I have been espousing for the last ten or so years.

In framing this essay, I’d like to ask myself some questions about my fear.  Sometimes I find interviewing myself to be quite helpful.  So here goes. Continue reading