Freudian Script: Cannabis and Psychosis

Freudian Script: Cannabis and Psychosis

With the recent study from King's College London linking "skunk" to diagnosis of psychotic disorders, I thought it would be a good time to examine the link between cannabis and psychosis in detail. I have previously written about cannabis and psychosis while talking gangs and drugs, but we didn't look at the evidence base. As I was writing this post, I realised that I've also waded into the fields of statistics and research methodology. Hopefully, this will provide some clarity the next time a newspaper starts talking about odds and risk in healthcare. Background First, let's get some definitions on the table. Psychosis, in essence, is the inability to distinguish what is real and what is not. It is most often talked about it terms of schizophrenia. You can read more detail about it here. Cannabis is a group of flowering plants native to Central and South Asia. To get biological, there are three main species - Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. However, the...
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Writers’ Tools: Expert Opinions

Expert opinions are the gilding of the lily in writing fiction. They turn a piece of entertainment into an accurate piece of entertainment, less likely to make irate professionals scream at the TV and ruin the emotional death scene for everyone else in the living room. (Yes, I have done this. Many times. We don't watch hospital dramas in my house anymore.) While I hesitate to call experts "tools" - because I want them to still speak to me - they fit into this character because this knowledge is an optional extra that makes a writer's life easier - or turns it into a total bloody nightmare. What is an expert opinion? An expert opinion is research involving a living, breathing person, as opposed to a book, documentary, website, journal article, etc. That person may be a universally-recognised expert (e.g. an academic specialising in forensics) or may have gained knowledge through personal or professional experience (e.g. a police officer working a rural beat). Why use...
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Writing is 90% Thinking

Getting back on the writing horse after a long hiatus is every bit as difficult as one would expect. It would probably be easier without the tonsillitis and the feeling that my brain is talking a walk on a muggy day in June, but only marginally. I have a one-pager to write before the weekend. I thought it would be relatively simple, as I thought I had a comprehensive set of notes from which to work - but it turns out I thought wrong. It seems that I wrote some notes, and then I wrote a second set of notes, in which I made several leaps of logic, merged two characters and invented a few bits of backstory. Without writing down the intermediate stages of that thought process. But this afternoon, I just about picked up the thrust of my argument and set to work. It was about half an hour later that I zoned back into the room and realised that my cursor...
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The Writer on Holiday

If, like me, a week away from your laptop and constant access to Twitter fills you with dread, here are some tips to appease your creative sensibilities while still getting some much-needed downtime. 1) Scribble on paper and then lock your notes in the safe A paper note can be a refreshing way to examine your ideas and help you make connections you might not have otherwise grasped. As for the safe, this is not because some would-be plagiarist might steal them (see Lucy V's post here), but because the maid might be disturbed by the carefully planned murder laid out on hotel stationery. 2) Mobile apps are your friend I drafted this post in the bar with a cocktail. Evernote, Celtx, Dropbox - make sure they're synced and ready to go. Also, take advantage of any hotel wifi for a quick glance at email (though I dutifully set my auto-responder) - it's particularly good if there's a time limit to the thing, for those...
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Plot on the go

Inspiration is unpredictable. And often inconvenient in timing. I've gone through phases on how I record my lightning-bolt moments. Until recently, I used to carry a notebook in my bag to scrawl down whatever came into my head - the "rewrite" of Steampunk Assassins took place on a train (naturally) with a bunch of papers tied together with red ribbon. When I was younger, I had a Dictaphone. I would write poetry and flash-fiction on it, record random plot ideas and sing songs into it. My co-writer and I once sat down all afternoon with it and recorded a lengthy discussion on how best to play out our magnum opus (as yet unwritten - ah, teen spirits!). I also had a mini-computer, which did me very well - until I tried to use in on a coach and it careered into the window, smashing the screen. My PDA was bought for work purposes but was also appropriated for plotting and writing. Now, I have...
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One really should think things through

1) Clock towers are evil So, I thought to myself, you know what would be cool? Having your protagonists climb down through the ship's clock tower (because all good ships have one of those) and reach the engine room, and their finale showdown, in style. Cool, yes. Practicable, no. Do I know what the inside of a clock looks like? Do I know how one three decks high works? Surely there's a simpler way to get down it? And why would a trained nimble assassin drag a severely injured PI down three levels of death? Good questions all. And yet I persist. Today's open tabs are: UK Parliament Big Ben Tour, Pendulum Clock (wiki), Grandfather Clocks Manual, Longcase clock (wiki), Titanic specs, and Big Ben (wiki). 2) Backless dresses make for snotty noses I have a terrible spring cold. It's probably related to my immune system rebelling after I spent all night out partying in a skimpy outfit. Oops....
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The Power of the Internet

I love having the information of the world at my fingertips. When was the first metal ship? What colour was Victorian ink? How does a metronome work? When was mechanical ventilation invented? How do men and women greet each other? Which birds are found in the Indian Ocean? When did musket balls become bullets? All these questions answered, and more. I love the internet....
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