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My Mad Fat Diary: Journals as Therapy

My Mad Fat Diary: Journals as Therapy

It doesn't matter in which decade you were an adolescent, My Mad Fat Diary will resonate. It's dark, funny, touching and painfully true. I was never fat (though I thought I was, agonising over my weight when it crept over – shock horror! – 9st) and never mad (though it's jarring to re-read my diaries and see the young me passing off casual mention of suicidal thoughts as "nervous tension"), but watching this programme is a sweet agony. It transports me right back to those teenage years of acute self-consciousness and vulnerability when binge-eating followed by...
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What Not to Wear to Work - and Why

What Not to Wear to Work - and Why

Does it matter what you wear at work? In an ideal world, perhaps it shouldn’t matter what you wear, as long as you’re good at your job. In the real world, in many jobs, it matters quite a bit. Lawrence needed a company to organise a corporate event. “I met this woman twice and both times she wore a low cut top. Great for a night out, but for a financial services conference? I don’t think so.” The business went to someone else. And here’s Alice talking about a new grad who hasn’t realised yet that his clothes are stopping him being taken seriously: “His outfits...
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Discovering Vedic Meditation

Discovering Vedic Meditation

It's early on a Thursday evening, and I'm standing alongside a man I have just met, Will Williams, in his smart Shad Thames apartment. We are in front of a photograph of Guru Dev, one of the masters of the Vedic tradition, and Will has his eyes closed while singing something in Sanskrit and offering the gifts I was encouraged to bring - three pieces of fruit, a bunch of thornless flowers - to the guru. As he sings, I steel a glance at Will. His eyes are closed, and he looks utterly serene. Will himself does not resemble what we in the west think of as a "guru". He is...
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"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

When I first started to work with people on the autistic spectrum, I was given a very bad piece of advice: because the brains of people with autism were damaged, one should not listen to what they had to say. The implication was that they had nothing useful to contribute. I repeat this now only because it highlights how completely our perspective on autism has been challenged and redirected by the autobiographical accounts of such courageous people as Temple Grandin, Donna Williams and many others, presenting us with the view from the inside. Starting as a...
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