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Grave Dancers —

March 23, 2012

First and foremost, I want to apologize to Stacy Bias, Lalita Devi, and Rebecca Weinberger for taking their words from a closed group and publishing them yesterday. I had no right to take private conversations and make them public.

When I read Stacy’s explanation for why she took down her post, I was filled with rage that this emotionally-charged piece that spoke to me, and so many others, seemed to have been pushed out of the conversation by certain members of NOLOSE, and I wanted everyone to know exactly why that post was no longer around.

But it was not my place to share and I am sorry that I violated the privacy of that group to make my points.

I also want to apologize to all of those who feel as though I did not do enough to improve the diversity of our campaign against Strong4Life. I have tried to explain why I responded to Julia Starkey the way I did and I stand by my explanation, but I realize that some people feel as though my own person busy-ness does not justify a campaign that excludes certain groups. So, if there are people who felt as though they were not welcome, for whatever reason, into our campaign, I am sorry for anything that I have done to contribute to that.

Yes, I am aware of my white privilege and those who claim I am unaware of this or have not been working on this since I first learned of the concept are the exact same people who only spend enough time around me to throw grenades. I completely agree that Fat Acceptance is all-too-white, and that when we engage in social activism, we need to ensure that our efforts are as inclusive as possible.

However, I do not feel that my attempts on the Strong4Life campaign, however misguided and short-sighted they were, reflect my attitude toward the importance of creating a diverse community of activists. At this moment in the campaign, diversity was not my mission, finding an effective strategy for combating a multi-million dollar campaign was. I was also interested in finding as many people as possible to add their voices to our chorus, so had I known of groups like the one romham pointed to, I would have asked them for help without hesitation.

I’m not going to apologize for how I responded to Starkey. I could have lied and said we would work on it, even though I did not have the available time. I could have dropped everything and begun reading up on being a better white ally, but in doing so I would have had to stop everything I was doing for the actual campaign. My response then, and now, has been consistent: I have a genuine desire to improve the inclusiveness of my work, but I was not at the moment of Starkey’s comment prepared or equipped to tackle this challenge. All I can say now is that I will work on understanding what it means to be an ally to POCs so that in the unlikely chance that if I find myself in this position again, I can do a better job of laying the groundwork for a diverse campaign.

I’m also not going to apologize for defending myself. People are saying that in response to NOLOSE’s letter, I should have been more humble and not gotten defensive. But I am not going to allow one group of people distribute a letter that ascribes racial motivations to my actions when there was none. If people make false accusations about me, I am going to respond forcefully. It’s my nature. I abhor dishonesty.

I did what I could to end this campaign and because I did not do it perfectly, NOLOSE wrote a letter implying racial motivations in my failure at creating a diverse campaign. Most of the people who are stepping up the criticism now, did nothing to contribute to this campaign, let alone create their own campaign that we could turn to for guidance on how to create this ideal campaign.

And, I’m sorry, but I will not regret my time as an imperfect activist. There was a major problem, I did what I felt was needed (as did so many other talented people) and we got the results we wanted, an end to the campaign.

If we were clumsy or messy or incomplete, we can learn from it and improve for next time. But I find it difficult to take criticism from those who stood by and did nothing while those billboards were standing. So, I will take the lessons from this experience and continue to improve myself, in spite of the animosity from those who believe they could have fought Strong4Life better.

For me, imperfect action will always be preferable to perfect inaction.

58 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2012 1:14 pm

    I can’t hit like yet, so “LIKE” 🙂

  2. faycinacroud permalink
    March 23, 2012 1:16 pm

    Oh for…this damn thing just ate my comment!
    I just wanted to say to Shannon that I have always seen you work very hard for what you believe in. Those things that needed apologizing for in this situation, you have apologized for. It is up to all of us to work together to do the right thing. For me, the main agenda is and always will be, ending bullying and shaming. That is what is most critical.

  3. March 23, 2012 2:26 pm

    “For me, imperfect action will always be preferable to perfect inaction.” BRAVO, Shannon. Very well said.

  4. March 23, 2012 3:07 pm

    Still totally on your side and stand by my comments made on Facebook. You can’t NOT join a campaign or movement and then complain that you weren’t invited. To claim that you had racial motivations for anything you’ve done is inflamatory and simply false. I understand that I am white, and therefore benefit from white privilage, but that doesn’t mean I’m a racist and that every time I do or say something it has a racial motive. The same is true of the Stand4Kids campaign and all of the efforts you have undertaken to combat the Strong4Life campaign.

  5. March 23, 2012 3:22 pm

    So, who wants to take bets on the first obnoxious social justice crusader who’ll start ripping you apart for this? You didn’t grovel enough, so there’ll still be people who call you a racist. That’s what I’ve learned from this.

    • Kala permalink
      March 23, 2012 3:36 pm


      You are being very insensitive to me, as I had many ancestors that were slain in the Crusades. I reject your common American English vocabulary as oppressive to my being. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never outwardly expressed any racist intent in anything that I’ve ever seen. You merely using the word “crusader” suppresses my very person and shows that you’ve internalized an unacceptable level of racism towards those of predominantly Muslim background. I will not back down until you apologize, see the error of your ways, and write me an essay on several sources I will forward you that show how very wrong you were.

      Oh, wait, maybe you have other things with a priority several orders of magnitude higher than what I just demanded. Oops. Sucks to be you I guess, you racist.

      I’m also a sarcastic asshole. : )

      • March 23, 2012 3:49 pm

        Oh, I needed that laugh.

        Seriously, though, Shannon, don’t hold your breath. I would really not expect this to make any of them shut up. They’re barracudas – people like that aren’t happy unless they’re trying to destroy someone.

        • vesta44 permalink
          March 23, 2012 4:14 pm

          All right you two, get out of my head! LOL Great minds think alike, and all that. Kala, sarcasm rules, as far as I’m concerned and you nailed it with your comment. And CC, I couldn’t agree with you more.

        • Kala permalink
          March 23, 2012 4:20 pm

          I think of it this way vesta. Only people who are of a race, can speak legitimately on what it’s like to be a person of that race. So unless they can come up with someone of Muslim Middle Eastern descent, they can’t touch my crusades joke. Although, that probably won’t even work, unless the other person is more oppressed than me. Maybe an Arabic lesbian vegan will turn up to shout me down, we’ll see.

          Truly, I’m hoping my snark helps scare them away. LOL

          • sliceopie permalink
            March 23, 2012 4:26 pm

            It doesn’t. It just makes the lot of you look insensitive, ignorant, and so stuck up Shannon’s rear end that coming to his defense when he needs a diaper change is more important than recognizing when something is bigger than all of you and deserves to be discussed without the sarcasm and enormous egos.

  6. sliceopie permalink
    March 23, 2012 3:47 pm

    That part about abhorring dishonesty is the most amusing bit of this debacle I’ve read so far.

    • Kala permalink
      March 23, 2012 4:47 pm

      Yeah, that’s it alright. By being completely flabbergasted and frustrated with this ridiculous debacle, to the point of sarcasm, I am distracting from the “Big Issue”. If you all want to persist in this, “power + privilege = racism” definition, that’s fine. But Shannon was clearly mis-characterized, and NOLOSE and its supporters absolutely weaken their cause about anti-oppression by quoting him out of context, assigning labels to his actions that were unwarranted, and then refusing to admit that they were wrong. There was no need to take down their overall message, but their decision to persist in keeping the message as is, with the faulty assumptions, is ridiculous and not deserving of my respect.

      1)First, Shannon was a racist because he told a POC to do his own work for him.

      When it’s clear that Shannon didn’t even know that Julia Starkley was a POC, the conversation turns to:

      2)NOLOSE is still right, because all white people are intrinsically racist because of the society we live in. Shannon is white, so Shannon is a racist. Case closed.


      3)Well other FA people have a “long history” with Shannon being a misogynist, racist, and possible neo-nazi. So clearly their interpretations of his behavior are the end all be all, because of course they are well meaning individuals and the rest of us that know Shannon are unenlightened troglodytes.


      4) It’s not even about Shannon, even though he was used as the example. So sit down and shut up.

      And yeah, regarding the actual concepts behind some of this discussion: I think this absurd extreme redefining and renaming of everything is unnecessary and has no practical purpose in the real world. And by real world, I mean something encompassing anything outside the extremely small and limited communities where this kind of rhetoric stems from. It’s so ridiculous and over the top that in my mind, it plays off as some kind of caricature. It’d be something I could respect, although not agree with, if these “social justice crusaders” had any modicum of respect for those that didn’t completely agree with them. But they don’t, not in the least, not that all from what I’ve seen. And it’s not as if this is the first time I’ve had a run in with this kind of liberal group.

      It’s some kind of weak Republican politician tactic. When someone is something you don’t like, make them into everything you don’t like. So someone doesn’t use the vocabulary or the seriousness that you prefer, clearly that person is a racist, insensitive, a misogynist, pro-oppression, what have you.

      Also Shannon is a baby, let’s infantilize him. Cool story bro.

  7. March 23, 2012 4:32 pm

    To be honest, Shannon, I don’t think you should have written this post, but not because it’s not anti-racist enough. As far as I’m concerned, these people are the racists and you just give them way too much credit and consideration. I have not taken them seriously since 2008.

    • March 28, 2012 1:10 pm

      Seriously? People of color are the racists in this situation? So many people in this post need to check their privilege.

      • March 28, 2012 1:21 pm

        “Seriously? People of color are the racists in this situation?”

        I didn’t say that people of color were the racists in this situation. I said that the people making a fuss, most of whom are white, btw, are the racists.

        “So many people in this post need to check their privilege.”

        So many people in this post need to learn to read. Come back when you finish the 4th grade. And yes, I’m being condescending on purpose because I’ve had quite enough of liberal elitism.

        • Kala permalink
          March 28, 2012 1:25 pm

          I think I’ve injured my eyes, rolling them every time I’ve been told to check my privilege regarding this debacle.

          • March 28, 2012 1:29 pm

            The assumption being, of course, that if you don’t agree with them, you are just too stupid and/or privileged to get it. The idea that an actual oppressed person might have something of their own to bring to the table is unthinkable.

      • Kala permalink
        March 28, 2012 1:23 pm

        MG, did you even stop to take a look at the people who have been arguing here? The original letter, was written by a POC caucus at NOLOSE. However, the letter was also co-signed by a number of white people. The most vocal people arguing here, and in fact I think all of them actually, are supposed “white allies” to various POC groups.

  8. March 23, 2012 4:35 pm

    Sliceofpie, after years of being a die-hard progressive liberal, the dramatics of the liberal fat blogging world had me identifying as conservative within six months. I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you think I’m stuck-up, ignorant, etc. because I will take that over being progressive any day. The label is truly an embarrassment.

    • sliceopie permalink
      March 23, 2012 6:06 pm

      Actually, I don’t identify as a liberal/progressive, I’m not a part of NOLOSE and I disagree with a large portion of size acceptance to the point of hardly participating these days, I don’t agree with the viewpoint of all white people being racist, and I don’t actually think Shannon was intending to be racist, either.

      I have, however, seen Shannon in action before and this is the same old tantrum-throwing victimhood deflecting bullshit he always pulls. Many of you have ignored what’s been said about the actual intent behind this effort to focus on how awful Shannon has been treated when he absolutely doesn’t need to be the focus at all. The only reason there is this much stink about him is because of Shannon himself. It’s ludicrous and childish and takes away anything important that could have been said about this issue.

      • March 23, 2012 6:15 pm

        Why are you here? I ask that genuinely. Are you just here to make snotty little comments, or do you have anything constructive to talk about? If you have issues with Shannon, you should maybe discuss them privately with him. That is what mature people do. If you’re here to shit disturb, you should maybe go talk to someone who shares your viewpoint.

        I respect Shannon as a person and as an ACTIVIST, whether you like it or not, and even I think his tactics go too far. That’s my opinion. I’m entitled to it. If you don’t share it, please go somewhere that does.

      • March 23, 2012 6:24 pm

        I knew you weren’t a part of NO LOSE, but I was not aware that you didn’t identify as a progressive liberal. In any case, I’m sorry, but we will just have to disagree here. Shannon really was targeted here, and he was not the only one. I love the Fatosphere as a whole, but a small group of bloggers has made in their purpose in life to cut down everyone who does not adhere to their very specific worldview, and Shannon seems to be the latest victim of this. So far, you seem to be siding with them, even if you don’t share their politics.

  9. lifeonfats permalink
    March 23, 2012 7:17 pm

    Well sliceopie, you and your friends ARE making Shannon the focus. But instead of talking to him in person, you’re publicly attacking him. If you don’t like him or what he says, you do realize you can always close this page out and go somewhere else. Also, by comparing him to a baby, you just bought into the stereotype of a fat man as an infant who can’t do anything. Hypocrisy,thy name is.

    • sliceopie permalink
      March 23, 2012 10:03 pm

      Oh believe me, I’ve tried talking to Shannon like an adult before, and it resulted in having everything I said erased by him and him defaming my colleagues and I when we could not defend ourselves and outright lying about our motives in talking to him.

      It was not unlike the tantrum he is throwing here, so I am here to show some solidarity with people that ***I don’t actually know or have spoken to before*** to be a voice of support and let them know they’re not alone in the way they think. We are as free to our opinions as you are to yours.

      I won’t be surprised if I’m barred from commenting or if my posts are deleted seeing as he’s a contributor here. I no longer have any interest in treating him like an adult, and saying he needs a diaper change is my way of calling him a crybaby, which is several notches down the bar from calling someone a fat adult infant who can’t do anything and could be pointed at a thin man or a woman, and a rather benign title compared to what I’d rather call him, so you can just drop that nonsense.

  10. March 24, 2012 1:43 am

    What I think the FA movement needs:

    More love for ALL people.

    More patience for ALL people.

    More care for ALL people.

    A big, fat mirror to turn on ourselves as a group and ourselves as individuals.

    More solidarity.

    Did Atchka respond to Starkey in the best way possible? I don’t think so. Did Atchka respond to the NO LOSE letter in the best way possible? I don’t think so. Did the NO LOSE letter portray something that happened as a little more than it was? I think so. Does the FA movement need to improve itself? Always.

    Right now I’m left wondering what I’m fighting for. Right now I’m left wondering what my voice is worth.

    • March 24, 2012 8:35 pm

      agreed. this whole thing leaves really bad taste in my mouth as well, and all it is doing is make me NOT want to be part of any acceptance movement, black white, fat, gay whatever. we are all supposed to be HELPING each other. Instead everybody is pointing fingers at each other. I was part of this campaign from day one. We asked for helpers on facebook in some fat acceptance groups and went from there. No one excluded anybody. we were too focused on bringing strong4life to task. for bullying little kids. for being themselves.

      • LexieDi permalink
        March 24, 2012 10:21 pm

        Well, there wont be any activists anymore for anything if when someone does something wrong by accident or makes a mistake, he or she becomes a pariah… especially when he or she has good intentions.

        Racism is a serious thing and certainly DOES exist and the FA movement DOES have to get better, no doubt. But why are we attacking one another when we should be helping one another be better, and, therefore, strengthening our mutual causes?

        I’ve seriously been questioning if I’m going to continue in this movement.

        • vesta44 permalink
          March 24, 2012 10:49 pm

          No one wants to do 101 work to educate anyone – it’s up to newbies to educate themselves in this day and age of the internet and google. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have a clue what you should be looking for so you can educate yourself, it’s bootstraps, y’all, because no one is going to give you a hint or a clue to get you started.
          Donchaknow all the ones who are in the various movements never had anyone educate them, never had anyone give them ideas of where to start looking for answers, never gave them any help of any kind. They went out on their own and learned it all by themselves, no 101 necessary. (/sarcasm)

        • March 24, 2012 10:53 pm

          Hey Lexie,
          Apparantly, you, and anyone else who defended me, is a racist too, and you’re all “mindless groupies.”

          And people wonder why I’m a bitter misanthrope.


          • March 25, 2012 12:17 am

            As I read it, Diane is saying that the person who implied the readers and bloggers here were mindless groupies is sexist. So on that point, she’s “standing up for” us.

            But apparently, we are racist. Have I done some racist things in my life? Yes. But god, I try every day to improve myself in many areas, including that. If ever doing wrong, makes me a bad person- then that’s what I am. I honestly don’t know what it makes me and I guess it’s up to interpretation. But being called a bad person/racist/sexist/homophobic/weightist/et cetera, won’t stop me from making myself a better person. I need to be a better person for those around me.

    • Kala permalink
      March 24, 2012 11:30 pm

      Shannon, there are at least two different definitions of racism being thrown around in this population anyway. There’s the “power + privilege = racism” one, where anyone who is of a less oppressed race is apparently part of the oppression, but there’s also looser ones going around but no one is getting drawn and quartered about that.

      Like I’ve pointed out several times: I find it ludicrous that they’ve gone and redefined the common knowledge definition of the term racist to encompass far more. But it’s not as if there’s some sort of spectrum of racism here, and if there is one, I’m not seeing it mentioned by these white allies that have shown up here. No, apparently myself as a progressive liberal, am a racist. Vesta is too, so are you, and I guess so is LifeOnFats even though she herself is of mixed race. We’re all racists, just as racist as every other person that’s racist. We’re all James Earl Ray with a sprinkling of the local Grand Imperial Wizard.

      Creamsicle says on his Twitter (I know, I know, I guess I’m a stalker for looking at his public feed):

      “It is NEVER fair for privileged ppl to try to police or judge resentment and anger towards us for being privileged. Never.”

      So, it doesn’t matter if it’s justified, or based on any kind of analytical reason. As long as that resentment is directed at a privileged person, it’s valid and permissible. No thanks on that one. This sort of thing really blows my mind, I literally can not understand how you could come up with this.

      To be honest, I think it’s an ignorant thing to do, to go around throwing serious labels and accusations at people on the internet. So much of human communication is done through body language, through tone of voice, and of course that’s all completely lacking in a text format. Some people say things that are blatant and obvious, and sometimes that means we can apply a label to someone.

      But these people with their super overfitted definitions, a mere half sentence taken the wrong way is enough to completely write you off forever, unless you go desperately sucking up back to them. And of course full context of a comment is absolutely necessary, and that’s really difficult to do if you have zero empathy for the present party that you do not like as a person. This is probably what Creamsicle is most guilty of.

  11. March 25, 2012 9:03 am

    The important thing to understand is that the definition of ‘racism’ used by these people has its roots in Marxist political theory regarding class warfare. All “underclass” need to rise and topple the institutional oppression of the “overclass” and these classes are regarded as monoliths. I can’t speak for our visitors, but many of the people that think like them identify as socialist/communist. So while it doesn’t help us dodge these charges, it personally helps me better understand where their thought process comes from.

    On the other hand, if you don’t buy into communist political theory, then none of it makes sense. (Note: I am saying many of them buy into a particular communist theory: I did NOT say that they were all communists). I don’t buy into it. Most people don’t buy into it, so of course it’s going to cause friction.

    I have been called racist, sexist, classist, ableist, etc. more times than I can count. Even though I am a member of many of the underclasses being referred to. Mostly, I get called sexist for being a men’s rights activist as well as a feminist. Anyway, there is real prejudice and real privilege, but those concepts get cheapened the way they are thrown around here. It’s doesn’t educate.

  12. March 25, 2012 2:48 pm

    Thank you to the voices of reason and compassion and joy who are advocating for people of size. I hope you will not allow such attacks as the ones described in this thread to dissuade you from the extremely important community you are fostering.

    Many of the rational studies and facts about size I find here and in your links are pieces of information I have picked up and duly noted over a period of about 45 years while primarily occupied with other aspects of human life and behaviour– because I have only occasionally fit the currently prescribed shape “norm” though I probably have been sized and shaped much closer to real averages than most people realize. Having succeeded in reaching the “average” in the 1960s, I also lost enough muscle mass to prejudice my health, and I had already experienced enough poor health to call a halt to the extreme dieting. When I met my future husband and shared my weight-consciousness, he said he would love me if I weighed 600 pounds and wore wheels. He has stuck to that viewpoint and has continued to love, cherish, and appreciate me through the shape shifting of pregnancies and spates of ill health and aging and despite the attitudes of others close to him. And he has done that in spite of my internalized sense of inadequacy that has accompanied those physical changes in me, so that I have been liberated to focus on something other than the weak (thin) spots in my self-image.

    I edit university texts. A chapter in a current project is so conventionally fat-ist and so poorly researched that I turned to the internet to reinforce my memory of articles on the subject of causes of obesity, including “obesity” that is in the eye of the beholder, to augment the few items in my files. What a pleasure to discover this blog and its links! I would like to share the results of my brief research, but do not want to be perceived as critical of people of size for doing so. Some of the articles assume non-obesity should be a person’s goal, and I do not endorse such an opinion. I have come up with the following list, which certainly must just be the tip of an iceberg of genuine research. Sorry not to have URLs for all of them.

    Apart from the conventional notions that obesity is the result of too much food (for supposed psychological and socialized or acculturated reasons) and/or of too little exercise, obesity may be caused by any one or a combination of these (or of other) factors:

    (1) it is caused by a virus (adeno 37), according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin (;
    (2) it may be caused by hormonally triggered chemical changes in the gut that affect the brain’s appestat ,according to a news release on gastric surgery from the BBC (UK) 22 Mar 2012;
    (3) it may be caused by genetics (
    (4) it may be caused by faulty in-utero nutrition as well as by endocrine disruptors (Toxicological Sciences 76, 247-249 (2003) Copyright © 2003 by the Society of Toxicology);
    (5) it may be caused by sexual abuse of the child that alters hormone balances (such female children also often menstruate early);
    (6) it may be related to blood type ( );
    (7) it may be because you were not breastfed or . . .
    (8) because you as a nursing mother stopped breastfeeding too soon ( );
    (9) it can be the result of insufficient sound energy reaching the left hemisphere of the brain (my personal research on the neurology of the ear and behaviour, which does not spend much time on the weight gain associated with chronic fatigue syndrome that I know about first-hand;;
    (10) it may be caused by changes in the hypothalamus in the brain ( );
    (11) obesity may not be abnormal, let alone pathological, according to studies that indicate obese persons who exercise may be healthy regardless of their weight
    (12) it may be related to genotype as a response to environmental conditions, which likely explains the physical typology of certain ethnic enclaves, e.g., my Swiss and Alsatian ancestors from mountainous parts of Europe.
    (13) it may be the result of coercive parenting regarding finishing offered food by well-intentioned parents who are/ were thrilled to have a lot of food or particularly rich food to offer. A child coerced to eat will, by the age of 5, have lost an inner sense of what and of how much to eat to attain satiety. It is my personal opinion that the success of coercive strategies regarding food in medical and commercial applications that have proliferated over my lifetime (I was born in 1941 just after the Great Depression and during WW II) are attributable to coercive parenting about food that developed in those two massive social upheavals associated with food shortages. So very many children were coerced that they provided a vast, vulnerable audience to the theorists, whose theories were never actually tested in research, as Lindsay Kite observes (Kite, Lindsay. (2011). Redefining Health Part 1: Measuring the Obesity Crisis. Beauty Redefined:

    Be strong in the knowledge that your cause is just.

    • March 25, 2012 3:46 pm

      Hi Laura,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and your reminder of what I see as the mission of Fierce Fatties: to educate myself and others about the vast and complex matrix that contributes to obesity rates and metabolic health, which may be associated or mutually exclusive states.

      Our other bloggers have their own individual missions, but that’s mine, by and large.

      There are a few others I would add to your comprehensive list, such as endocrine disrupters, the proliferation of cheap, energy-dense foods, pharmaceutical side effects (anti-depressants and steroids being two of the most common), and, of course, our dual arch-nemeses dieting and weight-cycling. And an entire textbook could be written on how the social determinants of health contribute as well.

      If you’d like some citations on these, just let me know (I hate writing long responses on my phone, but I just had to respond). If you edit textbooks, then we should be friends.

      Thank you for commenting and for reminding me why I do what I do.


      • March 25, 2012 6:06 pm

        Hi, Shannon,
        Incredibly stupid of me to have overlooked antidepressants because I have written a study of the effects of those drugs! Steroids, of course. The authors cited rich foods in reference to impoverishment, which I think is a seriously mistaken notion of why some poor people become obese. I read a study of weight changes in reference to the use of food stamps in the US that found a correlation with weight gain, but only in men, not in other members of the families. Having known impoverishment and many, many impoverished people, I have a few ideas of my own about those interactions, but know no studies to cite. URLs or other references are always welcome.

        As an editor (my husband and I have freelanced our services to major Canadian publishers since 1979 and I worked in the industry here 1966-70 and in Arkansas 1976-8), I can offer suggestions, but it depends on the author(s) whether or not those suggestions will be welcome, especially when it comes to structural issues and matters of superficial research. Every so often I make significant contributions to a text, which is gratifying, whether or not I receive credit. I will be surprised if these authors acknowledge my mini-research project on their behalf, but perhaps some other author will.

        A few years ago I made a staggering discovery while I was caring for one of our children, who was declared hopelessly schizophrenic when he was 16. I learned what schizophrenia is and how to cure it. I also saw that Daniel passed through other identifiable forms of so-called “mental” illness in a run-up to his long episodes of schizophrenia and that he passed through those phases in reverse order while he was being healed by high-frequency music (i.e., violin concertos) listened to through ear-muff style headphones. I call that “focused listening. in other words, mental illness describes a spectrum of behaviours related to the functional capacity of the ear. Thus, I had also learned what causes that range of forms of mental illness he displayed and how to cure them, too. Subsequent use of focused listening by people who have contacted me shows that my learning applies to other people, young and old, in widely different circumstances. I spent about a year in research while I was writing my story of discovery and corroborative research is cited in my writing.

        Dick (my folklorist/editor/PhD husband) and I decided my learning was so important we undertook to form our own company to publish my writing. My discovery is that behaviour depends, essentially, on the function of the ear, especially the right ear, to maintain the dominance of the left hemisphere of the brain. Socialization is a process that depends fundamentally on how the ear perceives sound, then, on what is fed through that system. We know that about the eyes; we make everyone able to see “reality” the same way with lenses so we can teach them the same things. Uniform vision enables universal education. Similarly, uniform audition would enable universal communication; but hardly anyone has noticed that people vary widely in their perceptions of sound, unless they are severely deaf and require hearing aids, etc.

        Something similar was grasped by two French ear specialists, but I was not familiar with their writing when I made my discoveries, although I did know something about Tomatis’s work from the Tomatis Method centre that had healed Daniel’s dyslexia (just before he became schizophrenic) and my chronic fatigue syndrome. Ten years later, I read his books (in English translation) to correct my understanding of ear-related neurology before I published my book. Since then, I have also read Berard’s book Hearing Equals Behavior and other published research of his in the course of my much broader research and I refer to his discoveries in my later publications.

        However, neither of those pioneers in ear function and behaviour had fully grasped the concept of cerebral dominance, which is my contribution to behavioural science. Tomatis had heard of “flip-flopping” dominance and dismissed it. That, however, is the defining characteristic of dyslexia (ADD and ADHD), autism, Asperger’s and schizophrenia. One’s degree of mental “stability” and capacity for self-control depends on the degree to which the right ear can process high-frequency sound. Those with fragile left dominance may display that ear problem as bipolarity, epilepsy, depression, chronic fatigue syndromes, stuttering, Tourettes’s, etc. You can see how that ear-driven inability to control the right hemisphere applies to people who cannot control their eating and to people who binge eat and even to people who have food-rejection addictions. In short, the “psychological” understanding of behaviour is going to have to be rewritten in terms of what has been known about the ears for 25-50 years in France and for almost that long by a few people on this side of the pond. I undertook intensive research that shows how my discoveries mesh with the observations of other researchers and I show how at least one psychiatric theory of schizophrenia is specifically deficient in knowledge about the ears.

        As some weight change, usually gain, affects 70% of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, and as I (and Tomatis) have shown that chronic fatigue syndrome is an ear-related condition, it follows that some weight gain in some people is the result of audio-processing deficits of the (most likely right) ear. Exposure to high-frequency music can heal that condition. Furthermore, Tomatis considered the function of the ear to be vital to hormonal balance, but I have not developed that particular thread in my research. Although I have picked up some interesting clues.

        Because I have developed this expertise about how the physiology of the ear affects behaviour, I am prepared to talk about how socialization affects people differentially depending on their ear function. Furthermore, once I grasped the neurology of the ear-brain-behaviour relationships, I was able to introspect about a lifetime of assaults on my ear(s), some of which certainly affected my energy level and my weight, in addition to some of those other factors I listed in my post. It seems to me that most people who are carrying uncomfortable weight must be the subjects of multiple factors. I am even more certain that obesity, like mental illness, has been treated from a dark well of ignorance on the part of the medical and psychiatric and psychology and sociology professions.

        Please don’t feel you need to answer in a hurry, but do feel free to ask questions. I am very excited about our conversation, because I was personally touched by the advocacy here and through your links. It is empowering to feel affirmed!
        Great-fully, 🙂

        • March 25, 2012 6:25 pm

          With all due respect, Ms. Tallman, I’m more than a bit skeptical of anyone who thinks they have a ‘cure’ for mental illness. I’m autistic, with panic disorder, and have been to more quacks and tried more crackpot theories to get relief than I care to remember.

          • March 25, 2012 9:37 pm

            Hi, CC,
            I understand your skepticism. We ran into some quacks, too. Very disheartening. But the neurology of ear-related control of the left hemisphere of the brain is not quackery, it is science built on the expertise of medical specialists. I am not medically trained, but I learned the neurology so I could explain to doctors what I had observed in Daniel. He was schizophrenic for over 10 years has been mentally normal with no signs of schizophrenia for over three years. The first time he used music to heal his psychosis took 6 weeks. The second time, when he was much more severely psychotic, took about 10 months. It may have taken so long because he was on a tiny bit of Risperdal. He did not fully recover until he quit taking it.

            People in the autism/schizophrenia range of middle ear muscle damage require much longer exposure to the stimulation of sound to rebuild those tiny muscles. People with less severe ear muscle damage, such as dyslexics, usually are healed or dramatically helped within 2 weeks. Some people are healed within a few hours, as I was from the CFS that had blighted my life for 8 years. I still listen to music with headphones a few times a week (more or less) to keep myself healthy. Hundreds of thousands of people with ear-related behaviour disorders, including autism, have been healed or helped with the Tomatis Method and its twin therapy Audio Integration Training (AIT). I am not associated with those businesses, but you can Google them and read about them. Sharon Ruben healed her daughter Ashley’s autism by applying the Tomatis Method daily and very long term. Annabel Stehli’s daughter Georgi was Berard’s first big success in healing autism; Stehli’s books are useful. My research goes a step beyond the theories of those two medical specialists Tomatis and Berard, who did not entirely understand why their treatments with filtered music were so successful. Tomatis, especially, was entangled in spurious psychiatric theory.

            Focused listening is simply listening to high-frequency sound (e.g., Mozart violin concertos) with headphones. The Tomatis and AIT treatments filter the music. Dan just used ordinary CDs and earmuff-style headphones. Two hours per day of listening is the recommended amount; no more. Millions of people already do focused listening; but they likely don’t know the neurological reasons why that activity energizes them and strengthens their left-brain functions (if it’s the right kind of music).

            I don’t want to highjack Shannon’s blog. Why not come over to my blog and we can talk about autism. I am at I would love to learn more about your experiences.

        • March 25, 2012 11:11 pm

          I don’t believe Ms. Tallman is looking to cure Autism Spectrum Disorders, in the same sense that groups like Autism Speaks are. I think she’s finding ways of helping with the aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorders that can be problematic. I have sensitive hearing, and I find Ms. Tallman’s observations very interesting, because it makes sense to me that people with Autism Spectrum Disorders may have ears that are out of balance.

          • March 26, 2012 5:33 pm

            Hi, Jackie and Shannon,
            I have posted this response on my blog at in case this is too lengthy a reply here.
            Please feel free to pick up the conversation there if you would prefer.

            The question of what causes weight gains and losses is complex; the degree to which choice is involved and how choice depends on the function of the dominant ear is where my expertise comes in. I will try to respond to that range of losses of self-control that span a spectrum from autism (little or no left cerebral dominance) to people with a specific behaviour issue where they have lots of left cerebral control except where they have low dominance in one area, such as food ingestion. As you will see, the reasons for losses of control do not depend only on the ear, but it may be the deciding factor where compulsions are concerned.

            First, hyperacusis can be a sign of audio-processing deficits,and is usually is a sign of stapedius muscle weakness that is failing to protect the inner ear. Your ears have lost a protective mechanism. Hyperacusis can be helped by exposing the ear to very quiet high-frequency sound and very gradually (say, over a month of daily listening) gradually working up to normal (never loud) volumes of sound.

            Autism Speaks have not studied the relationship between audition and autism. They call autism a “brain disorder” (linked to the immune system possibly), which is the common medical view of schizophrenia and all other “mental” illnesses. Few medical people know about Tomatis’s discoveries, for which he was decorated by the French government. His discoveries were in the 1950s, before there was good communication across the Atlantic. His colleague, Dr. Guy Berard published in journals and also wrote a slim book. Neither doctor understood the mechanism of cerebral dominance that I have described, so they were missing the overarching theory that explains the changes in behaviour their treatments brought about.

            Tomatis was the first to cure a group of autistic children to the point that they could leave the mental institution and attend school. But that was a partial success because he could not defend those changes scientifically and his psychiatric theories were incorrect. The parents of other school children objected to “having those crazy kids in our school” and the almost-cured autistic kids were put back in their metal-cage cribs in the insane asylum.

            I am talking about people who have used ear stimulation with high-frequency sound to completely cure or to greatly improve the symptoms of autism (infantile schizophrenia) and using the same or a similar method to cure adult schizophrenia (and other behaviour problems). My book and several other books describe such cures and improvements: you can Google — Annabel Stehli, Sharon Ruben, Tomatis Method, and AIT. Some researchers are finding that AIT works better for autistics when the treatment persists for months, not weeks, as I learned with Daniel and as Sharon learned with her daughter Ashley.

            Not many people have watched a schizophrenic recover to become mentally normal. I have watched my son do that partially several times under the influence of his own music-making. But I watched him fully recover twice when he used focused listening. The first time I saw that happen, I realized the Tomatis Method must be able to cure schizophrenia as well as dyslexia and chronic fatigue and autism. But how?

            The next time Dan became severely schizophrenic I started him on a listening program as soon as he could sit still long enough to listen. I began to see little changes in his behaviour that reassured me the treatment was helping, as it had two years before. I began to read about neurology and the brain. I found very little information about the ear and the brain in books on neurology. I started building a library of resources on the ear and behaviour from other sources.

            I had noticed several things about Dan’s cognition during psychosis. One was that his levels of cognition fluctuated rapidly: he was less insane/more insane, every two minutes, all day long. When I saw the differing abilities of the right and left halves of the normal brain discovered by the American neurologist V.S. Ramachandran, I realized that what I had been seeing in Dan’s psychosis was a switching back and forth between left and right cerebral hemispheres: his four-minute cycle. I could see right away that music was changing that shifting so that he was becoming more and more left-brain dominant. But only when his EAR gained normal strength could his left brain become fully dominant. At that point, he lost all of his symptoms of schizophrenia.

            Sound energy integrates the two halves of the brain at the speed determined by the frequencies of sound reaching the left hemisphere. I found part of the explanation for that neurology in Tomatis’s book The Ear and the Voice.

            What does all that have to do with obesity?

            Music cures mental illness and dyslexia and fatigue and has cured one of the worst forms of epilepsy. But various other symptoms from digestive problems to allergies and skin disorders often disappear at the same time, indicating that the hormonal and digestive systems are affected by ear function, too. That is because a fibre of the vagus nerve is attached to the stapedius muscle in the middle ear. The vagus nerve controls the function of most of the organs of the digestive system.

            People with considerable left-brain dominance still feel that tendency of the right brain to assert an interval of dominance, even if complete alternation doesn’t occur. Slight left-dominance is the condition in infancy that we gradually strengthen by teaching the left brain self-control in dozens of ways — providing the child has normal ears and can learn normally. It is during the right-brain surge of influence that addictions form, including addictions to food, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. People with low left-brain dominance (which may be low only in regard to specific strong urges such as hunger) cannot control their urges easily during those two-minute intervals of right-brain influence.

            Next, the pressure of unsatisfied urges increases the strength of the urges, eventually overwhelming the capacity of the left brain for “will power.” That “driven” behaviour reinforces the strength of the right brain’s emotional connections and further compromises the ability of the left brain to dominate the emotions and primal urges mediated in the right brain. Various ways of strengthening the left brain to break that vicious circle include cognitive behavioural training (CBT) and 12-step programs and counselling, all of which tend to ask the person to LISTEN carefully for extended periods of time, which exercises and strengthens the stapedius muscle in the dominant ear — although most doctors and laypersons are not aware of what the effort of listening accomplishes in the ears’ muscles and, hence, in the brain. However, the churches and other religious institutions are founded on that neurology of listening attentively, and usually of singing and listening to music as well.

            Once the person learns how to protect and exercise the ears with music, the muscles of the middle ear remain fit (“tonic” ) because they are exercised constantly by sound in the environment that they have become more receptive to. Flexible middle ear muscles allow the person to learn to control states of consciousness (the level of integration of the cerebral hemispheres) the way normal people do. The ear is the source of ALL rational, self-controlled (i.e., successful decision-making) behaviour, which of course includes choices about the ingestion of food and drink. .

            The ear-controlled cerebral integration system is what makes people capable of all other behaviour within the range of “normal.” The ear controls your ability to go to sleep, wake up, be highly attentive, daydream, meditate and pray, perform highly creative and complex tasks, learn, recall, and so on. The ear establishes your sense of time, the logical structures of language in your left brain, the tone and pacing of your voice (emotional prosody), the co-ordination of your limbs, the function of the digestive and hormonal systems.

            Sound accounts for 90% of the brain’s need for energy apart from glucose and oxygen, according to Tomatis. If people cannot access that sound energy in their environments because of weak ear muscles, they have behaviour problems that include digestive disorders etc. (remember the stapedius connection to the vagus nerve that innervates most of the digestive organs). Such people (including me) experience fatigue and seek that missing sound energy in food (glucose) because energy is a genuine and desperate need of the brain and the need for sound has not been recognized and taught (socialized) except haphazardly. Also, people with normal ears but who live in sound-deprived environments (such as monasteries or remote locations) can develop behaviour and digestive etc. problems similar to those of people with deficient ear muscles. he brain needs sound energy to function normally and direct the body’s processes.

            Many or most people do not want to be “cured” of their schizophrenia, autism, bipolarity, depression, or other forms of behaviour that deviate sharply from “norms.” That may be OK if they are cool with their environments. However, most environments are not cool with such behavioural extremes. For example, most parents don’t want their children to remain autistic if there is an alternative. Society tends not to want to have schizophrenics running out of control, especially if they have access to firearms and other weapons. Subcultures form as people with audition problems try to protect themselves from hostile main-streamers. I am against electric and chemical shock, pharmaceutical controls and other coercive treatment of mentally ill people, although for their protection and the protection of others incarceration may be necessary. However, people with such extreme behaviours might be happier with the option of listening to music that will change their behaviour than with the option of being locked into special buildings that protect the community from them and them from self-harm but without changing their behaviour.

            I am not suggesting high frequency sound is a cure for obesity. I know my obesity is complicated by other factors and I am not even sure what the definition of “obesity” should be or if we should have one. But it would be interesting to know how much change might be brought about in people seeking change simply by exercising the ear Focused listening is the easiest exercise program I have ever heard about.

            Thanks for listening!


        • March 26, 2012 9:04 am

          Hi Laurna,
          I will look into the methods you mentioned. Like CC, I’m skeptical, but only because I’m unfamiliar. I’m also curious, so I will get back to you once I’ve had some time to read through more. Thanks!


    • Kala permalink
      March 26, 2012 6:05 pm

      This is some serious quackery. I honestly can’t even come at this from even a remotely reasonable place. I get that a parent of a severely mentally ill individual might grasp at straws, but to myself it becomes repugnant when that grasping gets transformed into the creation and propagation of pseudoscience.

      Sorry Laurna, but I’ll believe this one when I start believing in Indigo Children.

      • March 26, 2012 10:10 pm

        Hi, Kala,
        This is the first time I have been accused of quackery! Diligent scholar; hard-working mom; persistent problem-solver; and some compliments I am too modest to repeat are the sorts of things people call me.

        The effectiveness of the Tomatis Method and the science of the Tomatis Effect have been proven beyond the slightest doubt. Dr. Tomatis’s scientific discoveries, to which mine are related, were proven before the French Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Medicine.

        Email me your address and I will send you a free copy of my SSRI study if you would like a taste of my science and scholarship.
        Kindest regards,

        • Kala permalink
          March 26, 2012 10:34 pm

          I’ve examined your website, I have all the information I care to know.

          • March 27, 2012 10:02 am

            Hi, Kala and Shannon,
            For anyone wanting to critique (in the academic sense) my work, must reads are Guy Bérard,MD Hearing Equals Behavior (New Canaan, Conn.: Keats Publishing, 1993), which is out in a new edition as well, and Alfred A. Tomatis, The Ear and The Voice (Lanham, Md. and Toronto: Oxford: The Scarecrow Press, 2005). Tomatis’s autobiography, The Conscious Ear (Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill Press, 1991) is fascinating but perhaps especially important because his psychologizing runs through it and you can see how it flaws the purity of his science. Bérard left his collaboration with Tomatis for that reason. Tomatis continued to think (based on a false Freudianism) that behaviour problems originating in the ear were under the volitional control of the individual, whereas I have shown (before I knew about Bérard) that precisely the opposite is the case: the person’s lack of self-control is directly related to the level of damage in the ear and the capacity for volition, no matter what the person’s values or beliefs, depends on the fitness of the middle ear muscle(s). The ability to LEARN to control behaviour of any kind depends first and foremost on healthy ear muscles.

            People who are incapable of learning to control their behaviour tend to distrust what is said by those who can control those behaviours about “how to go about it.” Instead, they develop beliefs based on their personal experience of reality, which is the only rational thing they can do. That, also, is why people are distrustful of brand new information — it does not fit their experience and expectations based on their rational view of the world. I invite you to dig deeper to test this exciting new frontier of knowledge about how and why people behave the way they do based on how much energy from sound reaches the left half of the brain.

  13. March 26, 2012 6:35 pm

    Could we just not talk about Autism Speaks, if that’s okay? They’re a bunch of barbarians who treat everyone on the autism spectrum like useless cripples. One of their own directors admitted frankly – in front of a camera – that she’d thought about murdering her autistic daughter while the child was within earshot. They are evil people who want to breed out people like me.

    • anonandonandon permalink
      March 28, 2012 2:54 am

      How, pray tell, should us “useless cripples” like myself be treated, hm? Maybe you can check your own ableism while talking about these issues, yes? Thanks.

      • Kala permalink
        March 28, 2012 10:04 am

        I doubt CC sees anyone of a mental or physical disability as a useless cripple.

      • March 28, 2012 11:06 am

        Oh, Jesus fuck, get over yourself. I said that is how these people see autistics. I was commenting on someone else’s state of mind, not how I view the world. Take a fucking chill pill and move on. The fact that someone else thinks this way doesn’t have anything to fucking do with what I think. I’m so sick and tired of not being able to say a word without being jumped on.

        • anonandonandon permalink
          March 28, 2012 8:10 pm

          OK. Got it. You’re not actually interested in learning how your language actually effects others. I’ll keep that in mind next time I see your avatar pop up.

          • March 28, 2012 8:49 pm

            Fine by me. I’m not interested in making excuses for the fact that Autism Speaks has literally said they want to breed autism out of existence, and that autistic people aren’t capable of doing anything for themselves. I’d rather focus on how they are awful people than pick a semantic fight with some neurotic idiot obsessed with labels. Go away.

  14. Jamie Powell permalink
    March 27, 2012 10:12 am

    Sacred Heart Shannon??????????????????????????????????????????????

  15. ugh. permalink
    March 28, 2012 7:56 pm

    it’s hard out there for a white activist. must be tough. white people are sooooooooo oppressed these days. it’s so *brave* of all of you to stick to your racist guns and cut down people of color for disagreeing with you and accuse POC of being “social justice crusaders.” fat acceptance is a form of social justice, you know.

    I don’t see why people get their assholes all clenched at the mention of “social justice;” how is justice for all oppressed people a bad thing/something that should be snarked about?!?

    • anonandonandon permalink
      March 28, 2012 8:12 pm

      ^ THIS.

    • March 28, 2012 8:33 pm

      “it’s hard out there for a white activist. must be tough. white people are sooooooooo oppressed these days.”

      Who said white people were oppressed? Anyone? Anyone? That’s right. No one. Moving on.

      “it’s so *brave* of all of you to stick to your racist guns and cut down people of color for disagreeing with you and accuse POC of being “social justice crusaders.”

      No one is cutting down people of color for disagreeing with us. Some of us ARE people of color. We’re cutting down a vocal faction of activists, most of whom are white, for launching personal attacks on people who disagree with their Marxist political ideology. And yes, the No Lose letter was written with that theory in mind. It doesn’t matter if none of them identifies as Marxist.

      “I don’t see why people get their assholes all clenched at the mention of ‘social justice.'”

      I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t seen that. I have, however, seen repeated attacks by vocal, mostly white activists on people that do not share extreme progressive views of racial issues.

      “how is justice for all oppressed people a bad thing/something that should be snarked about?!?”

      I don’t know. Show me an example of this actually happening and maybe I can answer that.

      • Kala permalink
        March 28, 2012 8:41 pm

        Well, I certainly had a lot of snark. But that wasn’t what I was snarking at, so I guess it’s a matter of interpretation.

    • Kala permalink
      March 28, 2012 8:35 pm

      Pretty sure just about all the people disagreeing with the bulk of the normal readers you’re lambasting as racist on this website were “white allies” actually. But I suppose you wouldn’t care to follow the thread of the debate from its inception to its fruition, right? It’s easier just to get here because someone probably complained on a Tumblr about this posting and show your contempt?

    • March 28, 2012 8:50 pm

      “how is justice for all oppressed people a bad thing/something that should be snarked about?!?”

      It’s not. But last time I looked, being born white wasn’t a fucking crime, and everyone seems determined to make it one. I’m not George Zimmerman. I’m a woman who happens to be white and would rather just mind her fucking business, but every time I say something nowadays I get shouted at for being racist/ableist/blah de fucking blah. I’m sick of the Internet Police.

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