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Life's random route

By Andrew Gunn - posted Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A couple of days ago, I drove interstate to visit a friend. She's in her 50s and has disseminated cancer. Luckily, a head scarf suits her.

She doesn't want to know about her outlook and this seems reasonable to me. Our culture insanely underrates the most fabulous of defence mechanisms. Woohoo for denial!

My sick friend is currently thinking very positively. Positive thinking clearly can't cure cancer (you can't be more positive than to be loving life before the diagnosis); but it certainly adds value to our limited time on this beautiful space rock.


For some reason, her situation brought to mind NNT's book, "The Black Swan". That's NNT as in Nassim Nicholas Taleb, not Number Needed to Treat.

One of Taleb's arguments is that knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence breeds error. Beware of experts. They make the greatest mistakes. At some point in our lives, we might need to let go of experts and allow nature take its course.

On the drive home, my musical accompaniment was a song called, "Where is my mind?" It was stuck on repeat. Maybe that's why the route taken was random.

I didn't find my mind. I did however find Granny's Farm in Nimbin and booked in overnight as Mr Juice Smith.


My alter ego might sound dodgy but I didn't do drugs inside Nimbin. In fact, I don't do drugs outside Nimbin either. I don't need to.


Just between you and me, I've noticed sleep deprivation and anxiety prompt experiences unmentionable within earshot of psychiatrists. Or health registration boards.

Not that anyone should care. For instance, many studies put the lifetime incidence of derealisation and depersonalisation at over 50%. It's abnormal not to have the occasional freaky experience.

My little psychotic moments make me feel like normal perceptions aren't real. This could be hellish but it's always accompanied by a deeply calming sensation that everything that's happening is inevitable and cannot happen any other way.

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This article was published earlier this month in Australian Doctor.

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About the Author

Dr Andrew Gunn is a Brisbane GP, editor of New Doctor, National Treasurer of the Doctors Reform Society and Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Queensland.

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