These are the untapped benefits of feeling gratitude. Source: COMPASS / FASTCOMPANY. Personal comment: If Black Dog is hounding you and all you feel like is withdrawal to the size of nothing of worth; this can be a good way either to start the day or to end it.

These are the untapped benefits of feeling gratitude

A cynical tendency can make survival in the modern world extremely difficult.

[Source Photo: Getty]


The email Elon Musk just sent to Twitter employees is a masterclass in how not to communicate

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7 ways to spot an emotionally intelligent leaderBY JEFF LERNER


I don’t know if there is a more misunderstood tool you can implement in your life than gratitude. But why do so many people find it hard to implement? Why do so many subconsciously ignore it or even flat-out reject it?

For one, it may be because we are accustomed to thinking about what we don’t have, rather than what we do.


As human beings, we tend to be cynical and pessimistic because anthropologically that is what has worked to keep us alive. In modern times it’s essential to shed this tendency. Tony Robbins says it this way: “One of the key traits of successful people is their ability to see things only as good or bad as they are, but not worse!”

There are two authors whose writings have illuminated this concept for me greatly and helped me overcome my own cynical tendencies. I will introduce you to their findings.

Expert #1: Hans Rosling

A Swedish physician and professor, Rosling wrote an excellent best-selling book titled FactfulnessTen Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, in which he lays out the following 10 human instincts that change the way we think about and interact with the world. I recommend taking the time to think of an example of how each of these shows up in your life.

  • Gap instinct: We divide everything in two and assume there is a massive difference between the two extremes.
  • Negativity instinct: This is our tendency to see the bad instead of the good or the glass as being half empty.
  • Straight-line instinct: It’s easy to assume that trends follow straight lines from A to B when every single trend curves.
  • Fear instinct: We pay more attention to things that scare us.
  • Size instinct: We have a tendency to misjudge proportion.
  • Generalization instinct: We automatically categorize things, but that can be misleading as it’s often done incorrectly.
  • Destiny instinct: This is the assumption that things have and always will be the same for some immutable reasons.
  • Single-perspective instinct: It’s easy for us to look at things only from our perspective without considering other ways to do things.
  • Blame instinct: We naturally look for scapegoats or a way to assume that others are the reason for our problems.
  • Urgency instinct: Everyone is in a rush, so when we see a problem, we try to solve it immediately.

The goal with these “cognitive distortions,” is not to dismiss them entirely but to develop a heightened awareness of them so we can refine them over time to align with our goals, as opposed to our fears.

Expert #2: Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman is a leading innovator in the field known as positive psychology. He developed the “three Ps of pessimism,” sometimes referred to as the “three Ps of learned helplessness.” Understanding them can make it much easier to be on guard against the negative effects of our own biases.

  • Permanence: This is an error of time. We assume that because one or more things are bad right now, they will remain that way indefinitely.
  • Pervasiveness: This is an error of size. We believe that if there is something in our life that’s negative, it applies to all aspects of our life.
  • Personalization: This is an error in assigning responsibility. We tend to think we are more to blame and responsible for fixing negative things that happen than we actually are.

Even as gratitude becomes conditioned, it will likely never become automatic. Unlocking our full potential demands that we transcend short-term survival instinct and play a longer game, one in which gratitude is essential.


To get started, try taking an immediate action of gratitude. Write a letter. Pick up the phone. Pay someone a visit. Whatever it is, make it heartfelt. Tell someone how you feel.

Identify those people in your life who you are the most grateful for and let them know it.

If this is uncomfortable for you, dig deep to figure out why. What is it about unbounded expressions of appreciation that makes you uncomfortable? Don’t judge yourself, just sit impartially on your own shoulder and watch yourself be you, taking notes.

And as gratitude becomes more natural and frequent for you, hold on tight. Now you’re ready for “the shift.”

Gratitude is just the first step, a catalyst for becoming outward-focused and unburdening yourself from the beliefs and patterns that keep your potential locked up. It is a series of changes that in hindsight will be a defined phase of your life when awareness was awakened and potential was unlocked.

Life after the shift is fundamentally different from life before it.

Excerpted from Unlock Your Potential: The Ultimate Guide for Creating Your Dream Life in the Modern World by Jeff Lerner. Published by BenBella, August 2022.

Jeff Lerner is the founder and chief vision officer of Entre, one of the fastest-growing education companies in the world.

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Excellent article by Mick Clifford, Irish Examiner 19th November 2022. He writes about those executed in the name of the FREE STATE. The shame in Ireland is the power used by the FREE STATE to quell their opponents was the execution of nearly double the number of men than the occupier the British Empire had done at the time of the Rising in 1916. 1922 Erskine Childers held a pistol given to him by Michael Collins. He was executed 24th November 2022, 100 years ago and the anniversary day is approaching. Mick Clifford makes an interesting point not necessarily referring to Erskine Childers but if it had been De Valera who was caught with a pistol, like most of the men executed, would De Valera have suffered their Fate, in most cases … execution by firing squad. (search … Erskine Childers and Michael Comyn KC)

Mick Clifford: Shaping dirty reality of new Free State
Erskine Childers: In his case, there was huge resentment against him because of his English origins, his presence in London for the signing of the Treaty, and his role as propagandist for the anti-treatites.

Sun, 20 Nov, 2022 – 07:06

Mick Clifford

Last Thursday marked the centenary of one of the lowest points in this country’s history. At the height of the Civil War, the Free State side began executing prisoners. The extra-judicial killings were an illegal act by a government ushering in self-determination and those to be shot often selected at random.

The first four executed were John Gaffney, James Fisher, Peter Cassidy, and Richard Twohig. They were taken out and shot in Kilmainham Jail, the same place where six and a half years earlier the leaders of the Rising were executed.

The latter killings lit the spark that led to the War of Independence, which culminated with the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the Civil War.

A vicious circle was closing. The Civil War killings were, however, far more tragic than those of the Rising’s leaders. The men of ’16 had gone out to awaken a people, offering up their lives in the process. They would, in death, ascend to the pantheon of Irish patriots, personifying the brutality inflicted by the occupier on the native people, having lit a flame that led to the violent birth of a new state. Those summarily executed by the first government of that new state were to all intents and purposes murdered in the name of a nascent democracy.

Last week, in the final seminar of President Michael D Higgins Machnamh 100 series exploring the revolutionary period, BBC journalist Fergal Keane pointed out that the course of the Civil War “led us to the horrifying realisation of the savagery we were capable of inflicting on each other without any help from the British”.

The savagery was not confined to one side. The Republicans were in one sense taking up the slack left by the British. Where deemed necessary, they inflicted terror, whether that be burning people out of their homes or deigning that TDs, the new representatives of the people in a Free State, should be shot for failing to live up to the fantastical Republican ideal.

On the Free State side, any moral superiority to which they were entitled as the tribunes of the majority, shrivelled and died with the manner in which the conflict was prosecuted, most particularly the policy of executions

The first four to die before the new State’s firing squad were informed of their fate the night before. James Fisher, at 18 the youngest of them, wrote to his mother. “I am now awaiting the supreme penalty at 7oc in the morning. But I am perfectly happy, because I have seen the priest and I am going to die a good Catholic and a soldier of the Republic. Don’t worry or cry for me but pray for the repose of my soul and my three comrades.” His crime, and that of his comrades, was to have been arrested in possession of a revolver a few days previously.

And his Republic? Was that the unobtainable legacy left by the leaders of ’16, their proclamation from an idealised world, in which the might of an empire would succumb to all the demands of the Irish people, and where a million Protestants in the north would cop onto themselves and realise the game was up? The poets and dreamers had campaigned in fine verse, but it was left to others to labour over the prose of shaping dirty reality.

Historian Declan Kiberd posed the question at the Machnamh 100 gathering as to what exactly the Civil War was about.

“Hardly the north which many felt Collins intended to invade and reclaim. Or was it the oath of allegiance? Hardly that either, except for those extreme idealists who lacked patience to wait for expanded versions of freedom.”

There were those who tried to negotiate a middle ground. Tom Johnson, the leader of the Labour Party, supported the Treaty but abhorred how the provisional government was using non-judicial killings to enforce it.

Higgins, at last week’s event, remembered that Johnson’s condemnation of the executions “brought him not thanks but death threats from Liam Lynch on behalf of the anti-treatites”.

Great sacrifices

A tone was set in the heat of the conflict for the Ireland that was to emerge. The selection of most of the 81 executed was freighted with consideration of social class and connections to power centres, including the Church. As with the departed British in their various wars, it was the foot soldiers who were metaphorically sent over the top to die first in sacrifice for an alleged greater ideal.

The exceptions to this tendency were Erskine Childers and the four selected as reprisals in the aftermath of the murder of the TD Sean Hales in early December 1922, Joe McKelvey, Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, and Richard Barrett.

There was, in Childers case, huge resentment against him because of his English origins, his presence in London for the signing of the Treaty, and his role as propagandist for the anti-treatites. 

The resentment, hatred even, was, under the circumstances, understandable. Using that as a motivation to murder him with the official stamp of government made the crime even more deplorable.

The four selected in the wake of Hales’ murder were a like-for-like reprisal. You kill our elite, we kill yours. Others, such as Ernie O’Malley, who was captured after a gun battle in which a Free State soldier was killed, escaped the ultimate sanction. O’Malley was well connected, fated, like his political leader Éamon de Valera, to survive and live a long life thereafter while others died either for an unobtainable republic or a new state compelled to rule by fear. Would Dev have been executed if caught in possession of a gun? We will never know.

Mercifully, the conflict lasted only a matter of months. WT Cosgrave and his provisional government justified the extra judicial killings on the basis that they brought a swift end to a mindless war. The longer view would probably differ. With relatively little support among the public, and only lukewarm enthusiasm among their own political leadership, how long could the Republicans have continued in any event.

What’s your view on this issue?

You can tell us here

The bitter conflict conveyed trauma in different ways down through the following decades. “This would in time have the outcome of a state with strong authoritarian tendency and practice, one that would cede control to an authoritarian version of the church,” Higgins said in his concluding remarks at the Machnamh 100 seminar.

Perhaps, but it may well be the case that the Church’s grip on society was so firm that the trajectory of the new state was predestined irrespective of how it was born.

There is one positive way in which this interlude of savagery may have shaped the following century. The futility of it all could well have ensured that for the vast majority of people violence in the name of a political ideal would never again be acceptable on this island. Despite attempts in the current political dispensation to rewrite the history of the Northern Troubles that has surely been the case.

The Machnamh 100 Seminars are all available on the RTÉ Player

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TBI 30+ years ago; Sr Noreen and Sr Margaret, Mashambanzou, Harare, Zimbabwe took me under their wing. Their constant advice was “Rest Restores”. Years later I failed to heed their advice and returned to Trinity College Dublin and with the benefit of hindsight failed to regard just how important sleep is. Life taught me a lesson with Chronic Fatigue preventing me completing my final BESS exam and 6 years of chronic fatigue and drop dead exhaustions preventing me from engaging in life. I imagine people with Long Covid are experiencing a form of chronic fatigue. For me, it was worse than my experience with breast cancer, nearly 15 years later. There is short clip 5 minutes of Professor Walker on TED below but I recommend this video also.

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Urban abandonments and dereliction to Universal Basic Income. Professor Guy Standing youtube is worth engaging with. Change is needed.

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Lack of computer access linked to poorer mental health in young people during pandemic. Source: UCL Research. (Energy cuts may arise, for people with mental illness prepare now; a flask for hot water for coffee, lamp/candles for light, a location, a book to replace the computer (bibliotherapy). Stop anxiety … prepare to be calm yet have something to read to tame anxiety.

UCL NewsHomeUCL logo

Lack of computer access linked to poorer mental health in young people during pandemic

14 November 2022

Lack of access to a computer was linked to poorer mental health among young people and adolescents during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a study involving a UCL researcher.

Online school

The team, led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, report in the Scientific Reports paper that the end of 2020 was the time when young people faced the most difficulties and that the mental health of those young people without access to a computer tended to deteriorate to a greater extent than that of their peers who did have access.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on young people’s mental health, with evidence of rising levels of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress. Adolescence is a period when people are particularly vulnerable to developing mental health disorders, which can have long-lasting consequences into adulthood. In the UK, the mental health of children and adolescents was already deteriorating before the pandemic, but the proportion of people in this age group likely to be experiencing a mental health disorder increased from 11% in 2017 to 16% in July 2020.

The pandemic led to the closure of schools and an increase in online schooling, the impacts of which were not felt equally. Those adolescents without access to a computer faced the greatest disruption: in one study 30% of school students from middle-class homes reported taking part in live or recorded school lessons daily, while only 16% of students from working-class homes reported doing so.

In addition to school closures, lockdown often meant that young people could not meet their friends in person. During these periods, online and digital forms of interaction with peers, such as through video games and social media, are likely to have helped reduce the impact of these social disruptions. 

First author Tom Metherell, a PhD candidate at the UCL Institute of Mental Health who at the time of the study was an undergraduate student at University of Cambridge, said: “Access to computers meant that many young people were still able to ‘attend’ school virtually, carry on with their education to an extent and keep up with friends. But anyone who didn’t have access to a computer would have been at a significant disadvantage, which would only risk increasing their sense of isolation.”

To examine in detail the impact of digital exclusion on the mental health of young people, Metherell and colleagues examined data from 1,387 10–15-year-olds collected as part of Understanding Society, a large UK-wide longitudinal survey. They focused on access to computers rather than smartphones, as schoolwork is largely possible only on a computer while at this age most social interactions occur in person at school.

Participants completed a questionnaire that assesses common childhood psychological difficulties, which allowed the Understanding Society team to score them on five areas: hyperactivity/inattention, prosocial behaviour, emotional, conduct and peer relationship problems. From this, they derived a ‘Total Difficulties’ score for each individual.

Over the course of the pandemic, the researchers noted small changes in overall mental health of the group, with average Total Difficulties scores increasing form pre-pandemic levels of 10.7 (out of a maximum 40), peaking at 11.4 at the end of 2020 before declining to 11.1 by March 2021.

Those young people who had no access to a computer saw the largest increase in their Total Difficulties scores. While both groups of young people had similar scores at the start of the pandemic, when modelled with adjustment for sociodemographic factors, those without computer access saw their average scores increase to 17.8, compared to their peers, whose scores increased to 11.2. Almost one in four (24%) young people in the group without computer access had Total Difficulties scores classed as ‘high’ or ‘very high’ compared to one in seven (14%) in the group with computer access.

Tom Metherell added: “Young people’s mental health tended to suffer most during the strictest periods of lockdown, when they were less likely to be able go to school or see friends. But those without access to a computer were the worst hit – their mental health suffered much more than their peers and the change was more dramatic.”

Senior author Dr Amy Orben (University of Cambridge) added: “Rather than always focusing on the downsides of digital technology on young people’s mental health, we need to recognise that it can have important benefits and may act as a buffer for their mental health during times of acute social isolation, such as the lockdown.

“We don’t know if and when a future lockdown will occur, but our research shows that we need to start thinking urgently how we can tackle digital inequalities and help protect the mental health of our young people in times when their regular in-person social networks are disrupted.”

The researchers argue that policymakers and public health officials need to recognise the risks of ‘digital exclusion’ to young people’s mental health and prioritise ensuring equitable digital access.

Tom Metherell was supported by the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. The research was largely funded by the Medical Research Council.




  • Credit: Jovanmandic on iStock

Media contact

Chris Lane

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9222

Email: chris.lane [at]

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Join with the National Graves Association as we remember the 77 brave men executed by the Freestate during the civil war. Main speaker: Tommy McKearney Republican plot, Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin Saturday 19th November, 12 noon. Further info: 087 2282033 Please share. (Erskine Childers executed 24th November 1922; Michael Comyn, his Counsel visited him before his execution, which should not have been carried out, his case was on appeal)

Erskine Childers


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Join with the National Graves Association as we remember the 77 brave men executed by the Freestate during the civil war. Main speaker: Tommy McKearney Republican plot, Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin Saturday 19th November, 12 noon. Further info: 087 2282033 Please share.



Erskine Childers was executed on the 24th November 1922, 100 year anniversary.

My cousin, Sir James Comyn, and nephew of my grandfather, Michael Comyn KC, wrote a chapter in his book Their Friends at Court by James Comyn published 1973. So many times I recall being told how difficult it was for my grandfather to accept that Erskine Childers was executed while on appeal.

In tribute to the Childers family. I am on tweet with Erskine Childers great grandson.


ERSKINE CHILDERS had as much right to call himself Irish as English because his mother was Irish and he had been brought up in her family home in Co. Wicklow. Certainly he was Irish by choice and from an early age was an enthusiast for Home Rule. He had been prominent in the activities of 1914-21 and in 1914 had taken part in the gun-running at Howth which had so caught the public imagination.

He was a cultured man of literary bent (author of the well-known novel, the Riddle of the Sands) and had been of considerable service to the Republicans in propagandist and diplomatic affairs. When the Treaty was being negotiated in London he was one of the principal secretaries to the Irish mission. It was his misfortune to engender hostility both from some Englishmen and some Irishmen. Those who held that view regarded him as a renegade Englishman and they were unfair to him. He believed in what he fought for and fought for what he believed.

When the split came between the pro- and the anti- Treaty factions, with the former becoming the Government and the latter under “Dev” (de Valera) conducting hostilities, Erskine Childers sided with Dev. In the civil war in Cork in 1922 he operated a printing press to turn out anti-Treaty propaganda. Then in October, 1922, he was summoned to return to Dublin to be secretary of Dev’s shadow “Government”. Of necessity, his journey had to be gradual and furtive. He carried with him his inevitable typewriter and a small colt automatic revolver whihc had once been given to him by Michael Collins.

He reached County Wicklow and stayed at the house of his cousin, Robert Barton (one of the signatories of the Treaty) at Annamore. There he was captured by the forces of the Free State Government.

The news made headlines everywhere and Winston Churchill note with satisfaction, saying that he was mischief-making renegade. “Such as he is may all who hate us be”. The charge against him was illegal possession of arms – the Colt revolver.

Erskine Childers was to stand trial before a military court on November 17, 1922. From Portobello Barracks in Dublin he sent for Michael Comyn to defend him. They had long been friends and he had often hidden in Michael’s house in Leeson Park. A sister of my uncle, who lived there said, after meeting him for the first time,”It is a shame to have that delicate and cultured man mixed up in our Irish quarrels. He is no more fitted for it than a child in a blizzard”.

When sent for by Childers, Michael was in fact attending counsel in an inquest near Dublin (it was an inquest and Red Cow Quarry, where some young men who had been caught setting up an illegal printing press were taken out and shot) and a military car with escort cars came to collect him. He noted on the journey back to Dublin that the car he was in was so placed that it would come under fire in case there was an ambush. I continue the story in his own words:

Childers in his cell was perfectly calm, drinking tea from a mug. I knew how much he loved tea so I asked for a mug of tea for myself which I then gave to Childers. “You know, Comyn,” he said, “there is no defence in fact. I had the gun.” “That may be,” I replied, “but you are too famous a figure to be condemned without due form and solemnity.” It was my rule in those awful times and awful circumstances never to betray any softness or sympathy: it would have been unkind. He had some messages for Mrs. Childers, which I brought to her. She also was calm and told me that they had considered and discussed the probable course of events and they were prepared. At his trial, which was in camera, Childers was, as we all anticipated, convicted. Then with Paddy Lynch (later Attorney-General) we went to the High Court, presided over by Master of the Rolls, Sir Charles O’Connor, and we conducted a spirited fight based purely on technical grounds. It failed and we appealed. Before the appeal was heard the terrible news came – in an announcement from London – that Childers had been shot at dawn on November 24, at Beggar’s Bush Barracks. It appears that measures to rescue him wre known to the Free State authorities and thus forestalled. It was a complete negation of justice, the worst I have ever known, to execute a man whose case for life or death was actually under argument and awaiting judgment.

The view was echoed by the Judges of the Court of Appeal when the case was mentioned to them a few days later –but much good did it do.

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Aphantasia and SDAM (Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory). Forever curious about voids in memory following traumatic brain injury 1993. Identify so closely with this. Explains Brocas ie patients who have stroke are included in this. Lifelong learning is essential and facilitated now by youtube.

Maybe you have SDAM?

Aphantasia and Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory

Maarten Serneels

  • September 19, 2022

Like many others, when discovering Aphantasia, I was shocked at first. This started a rollercoaster of emotions in the following days and weeks, as I began talking to my partner, family, and friends about this. It ended up being a relief, as certain things started to fall into place, and I learned to understand myself and others better.

But this didn’t explain my poor memory of my past self. This made me delve deeper, and then someone said, “Maybe you have SDAM?

Aphantaisa and SDAM
Photo by Rolands Zilvinskis on Unsplash

Discovering Aphantasia

A few months ago, I started to seek help for my poor memory and distant feeling from others. I came to realize that everyone ‘sees’ things differently in their mind after a conversation with my psychologist.

It was during one of our regular talks when the psychologist asked: “How do you experience this, did you count sheep to fall asleep as a kid?”

I always found this to be a weird concept, and can’t help but think “what sheep do I count, I can’t see any.

It was then I discovered aphantasia, and finally started to have answers to things I have experienced my whole life.

When you think about the idea of counting sheep, it’s not just that some people see vividly, and others (like me) don’t. It’s quite a wide spectrum of experiences.

Some see life-like images, others less clear or more blurry, sketch-like or even cartoony. Some see color, others black and white. Some see still pictures, others see moving pictures or videos. Some can completely control the imagery experience, and others imagery can cause them to lose focus on reality.

When I first discovered that I most likely have aphantasia, I thought it only applied to the visual sense. Not long after, I found out that aphantasia can affect not only visual imagination but people’s auditory imaginationinner monologue and other senses of imagination.

So wait, when people say they have a song stuck in their head, they are actually hearing the song?

The discovery started to answer questions that I had pondered before when people said things like: “I can still hear my dad say it” or “I can already taste the food when I think about it“.

Much like counting sheep, I thought these sayings were metaphorical, because I can still think about the concept of them.

The discovery of my multisensory aphantasia hit me hard at first. On top of already being confronted with being different from most people because I lacked a visual imagination, I felt even more different that I couldn’t hear or taste things in my imagination.

But after some time and connecting with others with shared experiences, I overcame the feeling of missing out and started seeing the benefits of having aphantasia.

3 Benefits of Having Aphantasia

  1. Not being able to see unwanted images.
  2. Not having unwanted sounds or music in my head.
  3. Not having to relive trauma or experience fear when not actually being confronted with it. 

I’ve come to see mental imagery more as a bonus rather than an essential part of being human, as some had described before. Not having imagery senses doesn’t limit me in life; I’m a homeowner with a successful job and an 8-year relationship. I process the same information as everyone else but in a different way. 

Much like anything in life, there are pros and cons. One downside to my inner experience is I struggle to motivate myself at times, as I’m not able to picture the outcome or simulate how I might feel after achieving something. Multisensory aphantasia makes my thought process different from others and creates strengths in certain fields, and weaknesses in others, as it does with other neurodiversities for others.

But perhaps one of the biggest benefits to discovering aphantasia is that I developed a new curiosity and desire to talk to other aphants and non-aphants about how they experience life and how diverse it can really be; How this could affect my life, and that of others, in more ways than we yet realize.

This led me to discover SDAM.

fredy jacob t0SlmanfFcg unsplash
Photo by Fredy Jacob on Unsplash

Maybe You Have SDAM?

SDAM stands for Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory and is often characterized by a lifelong inability to vividly recollect or re-experience personal past events.

Similar to our experiences of mental imagery, some people remember events vividly while others have only a vague recollection of the same events.

Some people (like me), cannot re-experience any past experiences.

I first discovered I most likely have SDAM when I was chatting with other aphants in aphantasia specific communities. I had some serious conversations with someone that seemed to experience life very similar to myself. One day they said, “Maybe you have SDAM?

So I went deeper down the rabbit hole and things started to make intuitive sense. SDAM seemed to help explain my poor memory and distant feeling from others, the cause of my initial complaint.

For as long as I know, I have struggled with recalling past events. I cannot remember moments I share with someone. I find it difficult to think back to how I got to where I am, what decisions I made and why, and how I felt at the time.

I know certain facts about these events.

For instance, I went fishing with my dad as a kid but often I cannot recall any specific details. Sometimes I even wonder if it’s a factual memory, or placed there by stories people told me or videos I watched, as I feel my past is purely constructed by someone else’s story.

Could my inability to picture or “hear” things in my mind, be the cause of my SDAM or vice versa? I wondered.

Mental imagery has been described as having a fundamental role in episodic memory, and some early research shows SDAM overlapping with visual aphantasia, but this overlap is still being investigated.

University of Toronto
Research into the overlap between aphantasia and SDAM. Carina L. Fan and Brian Levine. University of Toronto.

Challenges Living With SDAM

SDAM could help explain why I have a hard time making deep connections with other people, as well as maintaining relationships in general.

When a person hasn’t been in my life for any amount of time, I don’t seem to miss them or think about them at all (this creates feelings of guilt), but when I see them again, for me, it just picks up where we left off, as if time isn’t really a factor. But this also makes it easy to form new friendships as I don’t see the need for prior shared experiences, as long as there is a certain connection.

With aphantasia, I’ve had comments like: 

“How nice to have such peace and quiet in your head.”

With SDAM, I’ve had comments like:

How cool that you are able to live purely in the present.” 

Forced, really. 

Connecting to people on a deeper level, when you forget what you did together, talked about, felt like when you experienced things together, or even the person completely, can be quite a struggle.

I grieve differently, if I even grieve at all. After some of my close ones passed away, I hardly ever think about them, unless they are mentioned, or I see a picture or video of them. Even then, I know certain facts of experiences we shared, but I cannot describe any memory in detail or remember how I felt at the time.

With SDAM it also seems that I’m prone to make the same mistakes more often, as I’m not able to think back to, or in any way re-experience the last time I was in the same or a similar situation. 

Coping Strategies with SDAM

To help manage my SDAM, I have tried writing down some of my experiences, but when I read them again afterwards, it kind of feels like someone else wrote it. I cannot confirm that I felt like that, other than simply storing it as a fact in my mind ‘ i went there and felt x ‘.

A video blog is even weirder because seeing myself always sparks a strange feeling, same with photos or when I look into the mirror even. I recognise it’s me, but I can’t remember looking like that or how I got to that point and it often makes me wonder ‘who am i?’

Keeping artifacts also does little to help with this for me, I’ll recognize the artifact and can link it to an event or place, but it won’t spark anything more than that.

The only thing that somewhat helps, is keeping photos of others around, simply to think about them more often, even if it doesn’t trigger a memory or emotion. It will remind me that this person is in my life and it does make me more likely to reach out to that person, which helps me maintain the current and future relationship.

Reconciling with SDAM and Aphantasia

Despite my unique challenges, I think that I have a good moral compass, and process everything with a more logical approach rather than emotional one. This lack of emotional response or the ability to emotionally put myself in someone else’s shoes makes me less empathetic, but not less sympathetic or understanding, even if I can’t conjure the feeling by reflecting it onto myself or thinking about it. 

I, of course, do experience emotions, but only in the moment when I myself experience something which causes these emotions to emerge.

Discovering aphantasia and SDAM, has come with a roller coaster of emotions. Yet it ended up being a relief, as certain things started to fall into place, and I learned to understand myself and others better. While there are likely many more challenges ahead, I finally have answers to explain my inner experience and can now seek the right help, coping strategies and support from a community of like minds.

Can you relate to my experience, maybe you have SDAM? What coping strategies work for you?

Share in the comments below.

Think you might have SDAM?

Check out these resources.

Screen Shot 2022 09 22 at 10.36.44 AM

Original Scientific Paper by Dr. Brian Levine et al that coined the term “Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory.”

Presentation on SDAM by Dr. Brian Levine at the 2021 Extreme Imagination Conference

sdam feature susie mackinnon

What’s it like to remember nothing from your past? Susie McKinnon story by CBC Radio.

Maarten Serneels

I work as an assistant project coordinator in Belgium and am rather geeky with a great interest in (video) games, movies, and TV shows. I also like good beers, American Football, astronomy and Japanese culture & history! This is one of my first pieces of writing, but in my head, I’ve written countless books and articles, as this inner monologue is really the only thing that I can experience in my mind. I fantasize about many possibilities and, in my head, turn them into stories.

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Michael Comyn: unusual source wikiwand. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael Comyn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irish Civil War

Éamon de Valera

Michael Collins (Irish leader)

Michael Comyn (6 June 1871 – 6 October 1952) was an Irish barrister, Fianna Fáil Senator and later a judge on the Circuit Court. He was also a member of the British Civil Service, geologist, discoverer and operator of mines, and finally “litigant in one of the longest cases ever heard in the Irish courts”. As a lawyer-turned litigant, he recounted that “it was his last case, and he won it: a far cry from his first case as a young barrister…it was a bad case and I did it badly”.

Early life

Comyn was born at Clareville, Ballyvaughan, County Clare, in 1871, the eldest son and the second of seven children of James Comyn of Kilshanny, a tenant farmer and secretary of the local branch of the Land League. His mother was Ellenora, daughter of Thomas Quin, of Fanta Glebe, Kilfenora, County Clare. In 1879, the Comyn family were evicted from their home by Lord Clanricarde’s agent and the family moved to Gortnaboul in Kilshanny parish, County Clare. Comyn attended the local school and was taught by Vere Ryan, father of the republican Frank Ryan. Later he attended Hugh Brady’s school in Ruan, County Clare. This school had a reputation for tutoring its students successfully for civil service examinations. He boarded with his aunt (married to Casey) in Ruan during the week.

Legal career

At the age of 19, Comyn sat for an examination to be an excise officer; 2,500 people entered and 50 were selected. He was assigned to Powers’ Distillery, Dublin, for a six-week introduction course. He was later assigned to Lancaster, where he both worked in excise and attended Preston College. He returned to Dublin to study law at University College Dublin. He attended King’s Inns while continuing to work during the day. Despite being transferred to Burton Salmon, Yorkshire, in his last year at the King’s Inns, which meant he was not able attend the required lectures, he persisted. He was one lecture short at the time of the final examination. He put himself forward for the Victoria Prize, which he won and it enabled him to complete his studies. Comyn was called to the Irish bar in 1898 and joined the Munster Circuit in 1900. He built up a successful practice and he became a King’s Counsel in June 1914. “A barrister at last, but a civil servant still. With no legal back ground, no solicitor acquaintances and no influential friends, the bar looked a particularly hazardous profession”. He decided to join the Munster circuit and presented himself at quarter sessions in his home county Clare.

Comyn was active in nationalist politics. During the 1916 Easter Rising he was in Kansas City, USA, with Arthur Griffith, founder of Sinn Féin. When he returned from the US he became involved in the defense of republican prisoners and was introduced to the Military Courts regime. He would argue several cases before the House of Lords in his time.

Re. Clifford and O’Sullivan

In Re. Clifford and O’Sullivan’, 1921 Comyn represented two of the 42 men under sentence of death from a military tribunal for possession of arms. It was a solicitor named James G. Skinner from Mitchelstown, County Cork, who approached Comyn and his brother James with the words: “Do anything but do something”…”Invent something if necessary”. It was Michael Comyn who decided to apply for Prohibition (an old and seldom used remedy) which would be new to the authorities. The case proceeded forward to the House of Lords.

Initially, the application was made to the Chancery Division in Ireland. In 1920, two proclamations were announced, one by Viscount French, the Lord Lieutenant, putting certain areas including County Cork under martial law and the second by the British Commander-in-Chief in Ireland Sir Nevil Macready requiring all civilians who did not hold a permit to surrender all arms, ammunition and explosives by 27 December of that year. Failure to comply meant that any unauthorised person found in possession of arms, ammunition or explosives, would become liable to trial by Military Court and on conviction the sentence was death. General Sir E.P. Strickland was appointed by the Commander-in-Chief Macready to be military governor of the martial law area. It was his duty to establish and organise the Military Courts. In April 1921, 42 individuals, including Clifford and O’Sullivan, were arrested near Mitchelstown. On 3 May 1921, 42 civilians were tried by a military court on a charge of being in possession of arms and ammunition. They were sentenced to death “subject to confirmation”.

Ten days later, 10 May 1921, Mr. Justice Powell sought a Writ of Prohibition against Sir Nevil Macready and General Strickland to prohibit them; “(1) from further proceeding the trial of applicants, (2) from pronouncing or confirming any judgment upon them, (3) from carrying any judgment upon them into execution and (4) from otherwise interfering with them”. The Prohibition sought was that the Military Court was in fact illegal and therefore had no jurisdiction to try the applicants or to adjudicate in any matter related to them. Mr. Justice Powell listened to this unusual application in his division but “felt constrained to dismiss it”. In the appeal to the Court of Appeal – the Crown’s case was that the Preliminary objection that Mr. Justice Powell’s order was “made in a criminal cause or matter within s.50 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1877, therefore no appeal lay. “This contention succeeded with O’Connor, M.R., and Lord Justices Ronan and O’Connel, and the appeal was duly dismissed”. On 16 June 1921 (just six weeks after the verdict of the Military Court) the case appeared before the House of Lords in London for hearing on the Preliminary objection. Sir John Simon, KC, led Michael Comyn KC, James Comyn SC, their colleague, Joe McCarthy (later appointed a Judge) and Richard O’Sullivan of the English court appeared before the House.

The House of Lords heard the argument but then decided to adjourn the preliminary objection hearing until the hearing of the case on its merits. This hearing over five days took place in July. Delay and elaborate review of the law throughout history, taking account of other wars, civil wars and revolutions was a tactic specifically used. A most detailed review of the conditions in which prisoners were held in custody was cited. A red herring by Comyn drew mention to a link to Comyns’ Digest of the 18th century and where to place the apostrophe. On 28 July 1921 (only 10 weeks from the original trial by Military Court), Their Lordships, 4 from Scotland and Lord Atkinson from Ireland, gave judgment, which was most unsatisfactory. James Comyn, QC, (nephew of Michael Comyn KC) writes “On the strongly argued Preliminary objection that no appeal lay from Mr. Justice Powell or to them, they ruled against and against the unanimous judgment of the Court of Appeal…. They went on to hold that Prohibition was inappropriate because first, the Military Court was not a judicial tribunal and secondly, the officers constituting it were functi officio. They refrained from saying too much about the merits of the case because the use of habeas corpus ‘might be attempted'”.

James Comyn QC cites the Clifford and O’Sullivan case as a leading authority in the field of constitutional law. The lives of 42 men were at stake. Michael Comyn KC revealed later that King George V became aware of the details about the 42 men facing the death penalty. He was reported to be shocked and personally “interfered” to ensure that the sentences of death were not carried out. None of the 42 men were executed. Shortly after the Anglo-Irish Treaty, these men received their freedom.

“In Michael Comyn’s view the case had been brought to an end through the intervention of King George V, who, he said, secured a promise from the prime minister that no executions would take place and that Peace would be made”. It also notes that no republican prisoner whose case Comyn took up during the “troubles” suffered the death penalty. Other notable cases included his appeal to the House of Lords on behalf of the suffragette Georgina Frost.

After the truce in 1921 it is stated that Comyn met with Arthur Griffith and Austin Stack in London. He is said to have revealed “intelligence” from a highly placed British source that Lloyd George (Prime Minister) “would negotiate on lines that would satisfy Smuts and would go to the country rather than to war if those negotiations failed”.

Civil War

During the Irish War of Independence, Comyn was involved in the defense of Irish republican prisoners at the High Court and before the Military Courts. He also defended Republican prisoners during the Irish Civil War. He also took part in some significant inquests notably the two that arose with the deaths of Cathal Brugha and Harry Boland with the intention to disrupt them on behalf of the IRA. Erskine Childers was one of the principal secretaries to the Irish mission when the Treaty was being negotiated in London. The split between the pro- and the anti-treaty factions resulted in the former becoming the government and the latter under (de Valera) engaged in the hostilities.

In the Irish Civil War in Cork in 1922, Erskine Childers operated the printing press turning out anti-Treaty propaganda. In October 1922, Éamon de Valera made Childers secretary of his shadow “government” so he returned to Dublin. He returned with his typewriter and a small Colt automatic revolver (given to him by Michael Collins). While staying with his cousin Robert Barton (one of the signatories of the treaty) in Wicklow, he was captured by the forces of the Irish Free State Government. His capture made headlines and it is reported that it was noted with satisfaction by Winston Churchill who said he was a “mischief making renegade” and added “Such as he is may all who hate us be”. The charge against him was the “illegal possession of arms – the Colt revolver”. Erskine Childers was due to stand trial before a Military Court on 17 November 1922. He was imprisoned in Portobello Barracks and ask his long-time friend Michael Comyn to defend him. He had often hidden in Comyn’s home in Leeson Park.

At his trial, which was in camera, Childers was convicted. Then with Patrick Lynch, Comyn went to the High Court, presided over by Sir Charles O’Connor, and conducted a spirited fight based purely on technical grounds. It failed and they appealed. Before the appeal was heard, news came in an announcement from London, that Childers had been shot at dawn on 24 November at Beggar’s Bush Barracks. It appears that measures to rescue him were known to the Free State authorities and thus forestalled.

The Judges of the Court of Appeal echoed this when the case was held a few days later. It had a profound impact on Comyn when Childers was executed while the case was on appeal. He said “It was a complete negation of justice, the worst I have ever known, to execute a man whose case for life or death was actually under argument and awaiting judgment”.

Comyn knew Michael Collins but Comyn decided to take the anti-treaty side during the Civil War. After the Civil War, he became principal legal adviser to de Valera and Fianna Fáil, advising on the formation of the party and the founding of The Irish Press newspaper. It is said that on the advice of Gavan Duffy and Comyn to the Irish Free State that they could withhold payment of the land annuities to Britain.

In 1924, Comyn married Marcella Margaret, younger daughter of Blake-Forster, the O’Donnellan, of Ballykeal House, Kilfenora, County Clare. They had two daughters; Marcella and Eleanor Rose.

Political career

In 1926 he became a founder member of Fianna Fáil and in 1928 he was elected as one of six Fianna Fáil Senators to the Free State Seanad under the leadership of Joseph Connolly for three years. He served as senator between 1928 and 1936 and was vice-chairman of the house (1934–36). “He was a keen debater, he was a hard-working and able legislator, if unforgiving of political opponents. On de Valera’s accession to power, he expected to be made attorney general but was passed over in favour of Conor Maguire.”

In 1931 he was re-elected for nine years. After the 1934 Seanad election, there was a contest on 12 December 1934 to decide who would be elected Cathaoirleach. Senator MacKean was absent for the vote but all other members were present. General Sir William Hickie chaired the election. The two candidates were the outgoing Cathaoirleach, Thomas Westropp Bennett, and the Fianna Fáil candidate, Comyn. Neither of the two candidates voted and so fifty-six Senators voted in the election, which resulted in a tie of twenty-eight votes each. Westropp Bennett received the votes of all twenty-one members of Fine Gael and seven independents. Comyn received the votes of his eighteen Fianna Fáil colleagues, all the votes of the seven Labour Party Senators and the votes of three independents: Sir Edward Bellingham, 5th Baronet, Thomas Linehan and Laurence O’Neill. Hickie then gave his casting vote for Westropp Bennett saying he would have done so had he had the opportunity in the division. The following week, however, Comyn defeated the outgoing Leas-Chathaoirleach, Michael F. O’Hanlon of Fine Gael, by twenty-six votes to twenty-five.

In 1932 he took a successful action against de Valera’s government for the recovery of £20,000 of IRA fund.

On 24 February 1936, he resigned his seat in the Seanad as he had been appointed a judge on the Eastern Circuit Court. He died in 1952 aged 82 years.[citation needed]


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“Dangling Life over Death”. Traumatic brain injury and outcomes fall on a spectrum. An tSaol and Reinhard Schaler; their sheer commitment, dedication, endless possibilities sought, when their son while on his student visa in America, suffered a most horrific head injury. The Schaler family are relentless in their pursuits to reach through to Padraig. This piece about a woman in dire circumstances concerning her son with traumatic brain injury and being made a ward of court is a must read for all people, because one never knows the day or the hour when you or a family member needs support

Jail Break

ReinhardSchaler Nov 6

Site logo image Hospi-Tales Jail Break ReinhardSchaler Nov 6

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push it.~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

Last week, I met a mother in the car park of the airport filling station because that was the easiest place for her to find. She had driven 200km from the West of the country to visit her brain-injured adult son who had been placed in an institution for a six-month rehab stay – eight years ago. Since then, she has tried to get her son back closer to home. She has complained about the neglect and abuse her son experienced in his placement. She feels her complaints have not been followed up properly and she is being ignored. She is desperate.

Earlier this year, when the private company running the placement threatened the HSE to discharge her son, they had problems dealing with his family’s complaints, he was made a Ward of Court under the 1861 Lunacy (!) Act, despite the fact that the 2015 Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act was about to be commenced. The Ward of Court proceedings were ‘ex parte‘ (referring to a court application brought by one person in the absence of and without representation by, or notification to, other parties – though the mother was later allowed to be represented as a ‘notice party’); ‘in camara‘ (only officers of the court, the parties to the case and their legal representatives, witnesses and such other people as the judge allows are in the courtroom while the case is being heard); and under a Section 27 ruling (meaning that any reporting of the case does not include details such as would permit the medical condition of the person being the subject of the proceedings to be identified – all in the ‘best interest’ of the person concerned, whether they agreed or not).

The result of these Kafka-esque proceedings was, not surprisingly, that the Court agreed with the HSE. Her son was made a Ward – meaning he lost most, if not all, of his rights, including the right to complain. And it is now legally confirmed that his family has no say or rights whatsoever in relation to any aspects of their son’s life.The ‘best’ part: these proceedings will be paid for by her son’s estate.The mother feels utterly helpless. Her movements are not restricted but she has forcefully been stripped of her rights to companionship, her compassion, and her duty of care, for her son. She has developed serious mental and physical health problems because of the way “the system” is dealing with her, her family and her son.I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t agree that this is deeply upsetting and completely wrong. That it is cruel and should not be allowed to happen in one of the richtest and most developed nations of the world.

This mother’s story is well known to the HSE, officials and politicians.Nobody has done anything to change this family’s situation.The mother says that she will not rest until her son gets out of his current placement and is allowed to move close to home.She is prepared to break out of her virtual jail imposed on her family by a well-oiled machine.She says that she will never abandon her son, as has been suggested to her by well-meaning healthcare professionals on numerous occasions.Even if breaking out of her virtual prison means going to the real jail should the ‘system’ retaliate, as she keeps telling her family’s story.

Can we and will we help this mother to pull that door and get herself, her son, and her family out of that virtual prison? Pulling that door, rather than pushing it, as everybody expects her and us to do?Anybody?A job for a Jail Breaker. If you or someone you know is looking for a truly exceptional job opportunity, check out the job advert of the An Saol Foundation who are looking for a Programme Manager.

Kalimba. Last week, Pádraig had another visit by a PhD student from UCD who is working hard to discover ways for Pádraig to play music and access different types of devices.This time, he had prepared a Kalimba and a haptic/touch-type ‘keyboard’ to access and discover different kinds of sounds.It was beautiful and truly amazing to see and feel the interest, energy and enthusiasm in the room. It was like a journey of sound discovery. Beautiful.Pádraig liked it 5/5 and can’t wait for the next session.Away from limitations and out into the wide open of sound discovery and the total enjoyment of new experiences. Here was someone pulling, instead of pushing the doors.A classic jail break. Comment Like Tip icon image You can also reply to this email to leave a comment. Unsubscribe to no longer receive posts from Hospi-Tales.
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Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. “Patriotism is not:- Keep in mind as Russian Federation invade Ukraine

“What is patriotism?

Let us begin with what patriotism is not.

It is not patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock war heroes and their families.

It is not patriotic to discriminate against active-duty members of the armed forces in one’s companies, or to campaign to keep disabled veterans away from one’s property.

It is not patriotic to compare one’s search for sexual partners in New York with the military service in Vietnam that one has dodged.

It is not patriotic to avoid paying taxes, especially when American working families do pay.

It is not patriotic to ask those working, taxpaying American families to finance one’s own presidential campaign, and then to spend their contributions in one’s own companies.

It is not patriotic to admire foreign dictators.

It is not patriotic to cultivate a relationship with Muammar Gaddafi; or to say that Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are superior leaders.

It is not patriotic to call upon Russia to intervene in an American presidential election.

It is not patriotic to cite Russian propaganda at rallies.

It is not patriotic to share an adviser with Russian oligarchs.

It is not patriotic to solicit foreign policy advice from someone who owns shares in a Russian energy company.

It is not patriotic to read a foreign policy speech written by someone on the payroll of a Russian energy company.

It is not patriotic to appoint a national security adviser who has taken money from a Russian propaganda organ.

It is not patriotic to appoint as secretary of state an oilman with Russian financial interests who is the director of a Russian-American energy company and has received the “Order of Friendship” from Putin.

The point is not that Russia and America must be enemies. The point is that patriotism involves serving your own country.


― Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Some wisdom from an old dog…54,000 people have arrived in the small Island of Ireland, 26 counties. We need to distinguish the difference between Nationalism and Patriotism. 700 years of British Rule, being part of the British Empire, means we have too look at life with the Patriotic lens and welcome Ukrainians from their home a country, under invasion from the Russian Federation. Let us again look to a man who knows so much of the history of Ukraine, a man who knows President Zelenskyy in person.

“The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same thing as a patriot.

A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best.

A nationalist, ‘although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,’ wrote Orwell, tends to be ‘uninterested in what happens in the real world.’

Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others.

As the novelist Danilo Kiš put it, nationalism ‘has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.’

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves.

A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained.

A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.”

― Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century


We allowed ourselves to accept the politics of inevitability, the sense that history could move in only one direction: toward liberal democracy… We imbibed the myth of an “end of history”. In doing so, we lowered our defences, constrained our imagination, and opened the way for precisely the kinds of regimes we told ourselves could never return.

Timothy Snyder

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