Claire Tait Doak
Owner, Alice’s Emporium
I am an autistic Irish woman living in Amsterdam since 2017, although I can often be found at home in Dublin, Ireland. I study BSc Psychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam since September 2017, and I minor in neurobiology and genetics. I have previous education in Psychology, Archaeology, Art & Design, and Costume Design. I have a long background in creative and performance arts, from a childhood spent in theatre school, learning costume and graphic design since my teens, and many years working in the Arts and showbusiness as a designer, box office administrator, and performer.
I am one of the organisers at the Psychedelic Society of the Netherlands, and formerly a (founding) board member of APRA (Amsterdam Psychedelic Research Association). My main interest is in the instersection between marginalisation and mental illness, in deconstructing myths about pathologizing women and minorities, and in developing accessible and sustainable psychedelic treatments. In the future I want to pursue a Masters in Neuroscience, and I also want to explore the capabilities of VR in the treatment of housebound patients.
I am a big tech nerd, and I think a lot about how people think and behave, and how they interact with their environment, technology, and the products they consume. My fundamental belief is that technology, when used right, can be used to improve quality of life and mental health, as well as connecting people to ways that can benefit global issues such as poverty, climate change, social issues, and healthcare.
When I started on this path here in 2017, I already had quite the colourful past behind me. I knew a 3 year degree may take me a little longer, as a disabled student who’s struggled with education in the past. I could not, however, have possibly foreseen the way the years since have unfolded, living through a historic plague, devastating family illness and death including the loss of my father over many years to Parkinson’s Disease, losing friends to suicide, my own harrowing battles with COVID, escape from cult abuse, and surrounded by a worsening climate crisis, war on our doorstep and the rise of a new generation of dictators, out of control conspiracy theories, and an ever deepening and emboldened hate within our culture for women and minorities.
Those of us who are most impacted by the system, are the ones who have both the need and the perspective to change the system. But it’s stories like mine that tell of the unspeakable barriers that stand between us and being in positions to affect change, positions which are offered with ease to those who do not need them, and of the choices we have to make every day to continue towards those goals, no matter the weather.