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Mental Health Social Stigma: Disability Hate Crime in Caldicot

Wez G, Leanne Thomas (lee Lines) middle and her friend.

Wez G, (Lee Lines (Leanne Thomas (centre) I was first locked inside St Cadoc’s Hospital under Section of the Mental Health Act on 2nd April 1997. As horrific as experiences inside a mental hospital can be, once you are released back into the community things can be equally horrific if not more so. In the 22 years of non-consensual Mental Health treatment I have received for a misdiagnosed condition, I have never once disrupted or hurt any individual or group either in the community or inside the hospitals. I have a zero criminal record that I am very proud of. I can remember after a couple of months in hospital in 1997, finally getting out, and making a mad dash for the local pub. Before I went into hospital as a successful DJ and party promoter I had a very good standing in the community and a lot of respect. I loved my hometown of Caldicot with all my heart. As I walked into the Haywain for a much-needed pint, the place went silent. Everyone was just staring at me. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone, even those closest to you and even those who have always tried to treat me the same as they always have before and after 02.04.97, do treat you differently. I’ve learnt to deal with it in my own way over the years. The public perception of mental illness is really bizarre. I blame tabloids covering horror stories of schizophrenic knife attacks or banging on about famous Broadmoor prisoners such as the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe. The facts are that a diagnosed schizophrenic is less likely to commit a violent crime than a member of the general public and they are more likely to be the victim of crime. Social stigma is a weird thing. As the years have progressed and the popularity of mental health has entered the mainstream, people are, in general, more accepting and less judgemental. However, you find it really strange talking to people. They sort of gaze at you, look through you and you can see their minds wandering off as you talk. They believe that anything that is emitted from your mouth is lunacy and insanity. You can’t strike up a sensible conversation with somebody who is doing this. They might interrupt and say the common phrase, ‘Oh, and how are you in yourself?’ I love that question…

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Review: Altered State – The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House – by Matthew Collin

altered state

I’ve already read a Matthew Collin book – This is Serbia Calling – so I was chuffed when I stumbled upon this work, a history of UK dance music culture. As a DJ and Promoter for 24 years I’m quite aware of a lot of the history of dance music in the UK. This book, however, filled in many of the gaps, and was a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening read. The well known story of how acid house culture came to the UK via Ibiza’s Summer of Love where Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold and Trevor Fung experienced the delight’s of Alfredo weaving magic on the White Isle and brought back their ideas to the London clubscene, is a familiar tale, often recited religiously in club culture publications like Mixmag. The author gives a comprehensive account of the beginnings and it was great to hear the true story and what bliss these guys must have experienced. Shoom, Spectrum and the Milk Bar launched successfully and the early adopters were soon welcoming new ‘Acid Teds’ and a hippy revival based on lush house electronica began to hit the mainstream. The book looks at London and Manchester in detail as well as exploring some of the less likelier destinations of UK club culture like Blackburn and later the countryside free party and rave movement. The study of the fracture of dance music into its various sub-genres and the movement of people that followed each branch provides much analysis and we see Warehouse parties, techno anarchists, drum and bass division and later the emergence of new genres like speed garage, grime and dubstep. The book focuses a lot on the role of narcotics in this new ascendant youth culture. The critical importance of ecstasy (MDMA) to the whole movement which eventually led to a massive increase and normalisation of drug culture across the country, with polydrug use becoming popular and clubbers and ravers exploring acid (LSD), cocaine, heroin, ketamine, amphetamines and the various different types of cannabis. It’s amazing how much anti dance music propaganda was spread by the media. Governments were scared and there was a great deal of legislation set up to counter the whole movement. Enlightened masses were a danger to the establishment and the whole culture was seen as an alternative political situation. The long-running battles between promoters, DJs and the UK Police was interesting and it was…

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