A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part eight)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on August 3, 2018 @ 8:07 am

There is a question prevalent in Honneth’s work on Verstehen with regards mutual understanding and recognition and diagnosis , especially when one takes into account the work of Michel Foucault in his book the Birth of the Clinic and the shift from the patient speaking for himself to the gaze of the physician, the therapeutic relation’s historical relation to psychoanalysis, and from there to the later history of psychiatry, to which we can add Michel Foucault’s observations with regards Pinel and Tuke and the question of a possible preference for chains rather than therapy that is later taken up in Discipline and Punish with regards his critique of Benthamite utilitarianism and the disciplinary society . It is here we get to the ideas of ‘techne’ whether Heideggerian or Foucauldian (analysed in the History of Sexuality as well as Discipline and Punish ) and we then have to tackle the relation of diagnosis and ‘recovery’ to techniques and strategies used in treatment, that are always situated from a Gramscian hegemonic point of view within an economic discourse (both supportive of any dominant hegemony and always working counter to it, it is here we can really get to grips with a Foucauldian analysis of power, and specifically to mental health we can bring in the work on the history of social movements of Nick Crossley , and his argument that these different intensities of power in the different truth claims to power of mental health social movements and psychology, social work, nursing and psychiatry are working in a competitive field of knowledge and influence, and it is here a criticism of recovery discourse really takes place). What are the methods and practices (techne) used in nursing? What is the clients’ relation to these techne, his/her experience with regards the institutional intentions of the NHS with regards his/her care?
Perhaps there is a way of looking at problems of diagnosis and cure where one thinks of the distinction between letting something be as it is, specifically as something which resists understanding, and trying to ‘understand’ something, where ‘to understand’ is equivalent to working out where something should be (i.e. categorising), Phronesis. There is a difference between the different words for understanding, Phronesis and Verstehen, as a matter of hermeneutics. A theorist who dealt with this was Habermas who when pressed for a translation into English of his use of Verstehen (as it it’s meaning is vague) said ‘consensus’. However, it also means ‘mutual understanding’ in a sense that might be closer to Honneth’s use of Recognition, where one does not have to diagnose but ‘understand something for what it is’ ‘or someone for ‘who they are’ rather than the way two subjects ‘need it [the thing] to be about’ which Verstehen can also mean, ie consensus. However, the level of ‘understanding’ that is phronesis, which is a more diagnostic gaze, may move from epistemology to ontology, or at least that is the truth claim of psychiatry in its discursive addition to knowledge of mental health as a science. There are also issues of power excavated by Foucault in his use of the word ‘gaze’ here as well, we can look to the Birth of the Clinic here as well as Discipline and Punish with regards this. The effect this has on power relations, especially two individuals in an institutional engagement and the different calls they can make on differing power and knowledge bases, not to mention economic bases. How this will affect not just the engagement, but the application of techne and the result on the subjectivity of the one with less power, bearing in mind this power is not contained merely in the two individuals participating but is contained in the broader relations to power, knowledge and economy mentioned. In a sense the individuals involved are conduits of these relations.
Giorgio Agamben’s use of Foucault’s biopolitics takes in zoe and bios . Zoe refers to life in the sense of being alive or dead, bios refers to the art of living, ethics, possibilities of personal fulfilment etc. Another way of looking at the above CS Lewis quote and its relation to a curative gaze with regards mental health issues is to see the tyranny of conscience playing out as a death wish by figuratively looking at zoe versus bios as a distinction between negative liberty and positive liberty, as defined by Isaiah Berlin . Where we see the tyranny of conscience denies the right to define one’s own bios as negative freedom in the name of a zoe death wish, the drive to cure the other limits the more autonomous possibilities of the person ‘suffering’. An example of this is David Pilgrim’s analysis of the terms ‘nuisance’ and ‘danger’ with regards the social control of people with mental health issues . Where a positive freedom, the drive to decide the other’s way of life, is aimed at such individuals as a puritan thanatos denial of vitality, attitudes that people with mental health issues are victims of their own errant behaviour rather than appreciating the potential in the struggle ‘to be’ as a libidinous Eros facing outwards concerned with their own ways to live, ideas and a positive vitalism. It is perhaps here that we can see Foucault’s ambivalence with regards the York Retreat Tuke holistic pastoral working cure for mental health illness in Madness and Civilisation , and later his criticism of the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham in Discipline and Punish . The soft ability to punish through ‘care’ or the ‘pursuit of happiness’ as outcome measure rather than happiness as a vital product of a life well-lived.
With Lewis’ tyranny the example is obviously aimed at religious tyranny, but I think there is another economic and political policy one that stems through the relation, or elective affinity that Max Weber outlined in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that is then reflected hegemonically within capitalism itself through techniques with regards mental health in NHS (and entrepreneurial mental health recovery – due to the instrumental pursuit of profit) for ideological reasons. This is part and parcel of the critique of instrumental reason of the Frankfurt School found in Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Reason and Herbert Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man .
Therefore when critiquing recovery and looking for unrecovery escape vectors we specifically need to look at the use of certain more tyrannical or punitive techniques (those used ‘for your own good’) and their relation to cost effectiveness as extant within the requirements of the system rather than as a result of a more anthropomorphised understanding of the economy (i.e. beliefs that the crisis was due to banker’s greed rather than the way capitalism works – and any elective affinities that may occur between such anthropomorphisation and ideas of the individual subject vis a vis psychological discourse as a result of what are, to be honest, consumerist subjectivities required for certain hegemonic relations with the means of production without capital) or as simply nothing more than the power struggles of psychiatrists versus psychologists for territory (although this paradigmatic competition certainly exists) outside and separate from the workings of the economy.
If we return to the Tuke York Retreat working cure we can return to the relationship between unemployment, the Work Capability Assessment , or moreover mental health disability and the ESA WRAG group and ‘workfare’ (especially the research showing the failings of workfare ), and from that the relation between the Protestant Ethic and the problem of what is valued as work with regards criticisms such as those of Kathi Weeks , and to the relation between recovery, diagnosis and cure from there. The relations of feminism to low paid affective labour, the right to recover – wages after all come from the relation between the supply and demand of available labour and the surplus profit that can be squeezed out of the labour-time they are for, so in this sense the time allowed to recover when related to back-to-work outcome measures will be related to that labour time and therefore recovery from diagnosis fits into the work relation of capitalist exploitation right there, when combined with ESA, WCA tests and outcome measure based recovery techne.
One can then think of not just the needs of those who have specific diagnoses and the very concrete effect austerity has had on the possibilities of autonomous ‘bios’, the possibilities of ways of living, but also hegemonically with regards discursive core beliefs that are related to attitudes towards people with mental health issues as ‘scroungers’ or ‘spongers’ (that one can analyse by looking at sado-masochistic and fascistic theories in both Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle and his Theory of the Group , as well as ideas of microfascism as explicated by Deleuze and Guattari especially where this involves receipt of social security and it’s labour-time relation to diagnosis and recovery becuase one cannot receive ESA, DLA or PIP for mental health issues without a diagnosis.
As a form of techne we can look at CBT, where CBT, and its promotion in policy in a utilitarian form by Layard, is one that has been specifically targeted with regards cost cutting (not just it’s purported efficacy in Layard, and criticisms of such efficacy almost everywhere else) . Where materialist neuroscientists such as Damasio and others can show that there is indeed a relation between emotion and cognition, but the short training, the issues in therapeutic relationship (noted by Richard Bentall ) and the limited hegemonic non-discursive relation to language (a quick perusal of either Saussure or Charles S Pierce will find fault, let alone Althusser or Lacan) leads it to being a subjectivising biopower techne rather than a vitalist biopolitical one (where we use Foucault’s distinction ).
We can look at a similar point in past history to this attempt to cut costs under austerity with regards Andrew Scull’s analysis of the cost cutting behind decarceration in the ‘80s and ‘90s and its relation to diagnosis and recovery then there where medication was claimed to be the factor behind the move to care in the community, but Scull’s historical analysis shows it was costs, and we can look at the turf war between social working, nursing, psychiatry and psychology there, with some arguing that the psychiatrists won back power through CTOs .
One interesting in-road to the question of recognition is Habermas’ communicative ethics and their place in his deliberative democracy and it’s relation to Gramsci’s idea of Hegemony , the place of language in that and RD Laing’s authoritarian nexus and its place in psychosis and from there appreciate that there is the doubling effect of austerity that the average psychotic will hear in everyday life, especially those place in the WRAG who end up in workfare. If we are to look aty a vital relation to the double binds that Bateson notes as important, then outside the family nexus, for those very unwell, or distressed, who find it hard to work, find work, or stay in work, with the threats of sanctions, then given the arguments above here is the vital, zoe, life or death relation. How can a recognition-based communicative practice that looks at the social causes, issues and support involved in mental health nursing help in these circumstances?
Habermas’ communicative ethics requires a critical agency on the part of the speaker in order for the dialogue to be reasonable, from the lacuna in this everyday experience illocutionary aspects of speech will occur (Hannah Arendt would argue this is inevitable ), these illocutionary speech acts can end up, using Freud’s unfulfilled wish fulfilment as an example of a possible route to a micro-tyranny, in becoming part of this hypothetical psychotic’s everyday linguistic experience within their nexus, those aspects of everyday language use uncritical of austerity, rather than active deliberative democratic critical agency, can come across as authoritarian. This is a result of the requirements of everyday citizens to act in certain ways and hold certain relations towards each other, certain performative frameworks, in order for any form of recognition to take place in the workplace, as a result of working within the remits of a policy of austerity. As austerity requires the working class to cut what little resources they have (more and more so as inequality increases ) then these illocutionary everyday affects will tend to be more ‘austere’ with regards acts of recognition with regards shared social space and resources and will be unlikely to create solidarity without at least some cognitive dissonance, thus taking issues in the general mental ‘wealth’ out of any family group nexus to a more social issue with regards the prevalence of psychosis and recovery from it in the long run in the general population.
Unrecovery therefore is an attempt to regain some autonomy in this milieu. Honneth tries in the book Disrespect tries to wrest the fate of Kantian autonomy from the twin critiques of Freud, romanticism and Nietzsche on the one hand “pointing to the unconscious drives and motives of individual action” demonstrating that “the human subject cannot be transparent to itself in the manner claimed in the classical notion of autonomy”; and on the other hand the history of linguistics from the intellectual current of Saussure and Wittgenstein that points to “the dependence of individual speech on a pre-given system of linguistic meanings” showing that “the human subject cannot constitute or exhaust meaning in the manner of transcendental philosophy…[calling] the possibility of the individual constitution of meaning into question, thereby invalidating autonomy in the sense of the authorship of the subject.” So whilst “the psychological critique sees libidinal forces within the subject as something foreign but necessary to its action, the language-philosophical deconstruction of subjectivity is covered with uncovering the actuality of linguistic systems of meaning, and actuality that precedes all intentionality. Both dimensions, the unconscious as well as language, refer to powers or forces operative in every individual action without the subject ever being able to control them completely or even detect them. This conclusion however disturbing it might be for the subject’s narcissism, is largely accepted in philosophy today.”
In Honneth’s attempt to reconcile this thorny subject with Kant’s original thesis on autonomy. To do this he refers to theory of intersubjectivity to formulate a meaningful concept of personal autonomy. He turns to G.H Mead and Donald .W. Winnicott to find the first outlines of a position “which allows the uncontrollable powers of language and the unconscious to be grasped not as a limitation for the acquisition of personal autonomy, but as it’s enabling condition.” And it is precisely this struggle that the psychotic finds him/her/themselves in when meeting the institutions of the NHS and the DWP as well as in the marketplace that we all struggle with.

Conclusion

In this chapter I very much wanted to explore from the psychotic subject’s point of view the narrative arc self-expression can take in not just contemporary late capitalist society but specifically under austerity, something I argue is a new economic policy with respect to post-WWII economics, a period in which the discourse of ‘recovery’ has changed massively, largely in relation to the NHS and welfare state that did not exist previously, but specifically under threat of that social support structure being lost to those who require for reasons of their mental distress. So there is the double quandary of both its institutional governance but also the threat of the removal of a safety net that on humanitarian terms is an improvement on the free market of the Victorian era. As such I have resorted to the linguistic cultural knowledge of society’s musical and other cultural undercurrents: black urban music culture, the Hardcore continuum, hip hop, dance and jazz, as well as the history of the baby of the blues; rock n’ roll, especially punk in order to speak this subaltern but British condition .
There is a thesis that Wright and Bartlett and the contributors involved suggest in the book Outside the Walls of The Asylum that there has been a hidden history of mental health care that goes back through nursing to midwifery and witchcraft, or at least herbal healers, the original community care, hints of the relation to this can be found in Silvia Federici’s book Caliban and the Witch which she traces in relation to the history of capitalism and primitive accumulation. There is a sense where the psychotic is Wolf-head , banished but blameless, who doesn’t quite fit into an iron cage required of the outlaw shaman by the market. A relation to the requirements of personal autonomy that makes the tick box outcome measures of the Recovery Star quite pointless.

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part seven)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on August 2, 2018 @ 10:32 am

The Unrecovery career path – Unrecovery low theory apophenic example #3

If unrecovery is anything it is this. Since Freud found his book in a bookshop, it has been discovered that President Schreber’s father was an incredibly abusive man, he was an inventor of child disciplinary instruments, almost suitable for a modern S&M dungeon, or worse the torture devices of the Inquisitions of the Middle Ages. These the father tested on his own child, the future Schreber and his solar anus. It is in the sense that mental health strategies are a way of living with trauma and it is here that Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle and its discussion of the relation in childhood between trauma, play and repetition begins to make a lot of sense with regards the punk strategy of the UK Mad Pride collective of the 1990s where punk was used as a mad vehicle The fanzine Sniffin’ Glue’s famous statement “here’s three chords now form a band” (the editor of the fanzine, Mark Perry of Alternative TV, did indeed play a fair few Mad Pride fund raisers in order to then protest CTOs) then becomes here’s three practices now find a way to live with your mental health, repeat, repeat, repeat, and onwards to the improvised jazz method, here’s four to twenty standards, practice the hell out of them, learn to improvise riffs off of them and then signify the fuck out of your knots, anti-language as mad practice. This can’t be copyrighted as a ‘recovery tool’, this is the madness of the commons, the Lollards, Ranters and Ravers, the modern English Dissenters of psychosis. During Les Evènements in 1968 the graffiti proclaimed, “Beneath the Streets, The Beach”. And then there’s Morton Feldman crying to Alvin Curran not much later (over 20 years after Adorno declared no more poetry after Auschwitz,) “Can’t you hear them? They’re screaming! Still screaming out from under the pavements!” Which of these aphorisms today, 50 years later, holds more weight?”

Exegesis Exit

With regards Hegel I think it is worth noting that Deleuze mentions his anti-Hegelianism as a ‘silent conversation’ with Hegel , where he states especially morphogenesis, the idea that the genetic material contains potential information that then has broad diverse limits to its future form dependent on that relation with the environment versus the idea of Aristotle/ Platonic ideal forms and that ideological relation to Hegel’s concept of the world spirit. And I would suggest it is worth approaching my discussion of Hegelian/ Marxist theories and Deleuze & Guattari and the relation to the phenomenology of psychosis, that I have narrated here, with that in mind

Tyranny or phantasm?

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. ”

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief ”

“As the child passes over from the passivity of the experience to the activity of the game, he hands on the disagreeable experience to one of his playmates and in this way revenges himself on a substitute ”

“The means to do this [effect a double-bind] are not direct injunctions but attributions. That is, the mother both in effect orders the daughter to remember, and in effect orders her not to remember… In effect, then, as soon as anything comes into her mind the mother attributes both badness and madness to the daughter in oscillation. If the daughter tries not to be bad she is defined as mad. If she tries to avoid being mad she is defined as bad. The only partial way for the daughter out of this untenable position might be for her to falsify her perceptions and her own memory to fit in with what her mother might want to perceive or to remember. ”

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part six)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on August 1, 2018 @ 11:59 am

Another failed exegesis. Fail and fail better, pick yourself up and fail again.
With regards, not just Deleuze and Guattari and the Body without Organs , but also with respect to Foucault’s use of the idea of the body and its relation to the corps in his study on biopolitics , it is worth noting that trauma research seems to be centred in the body . Neuroscience prioritizes the emotions before cognition and language comes after that so in this sense there is a rationale to Lacan’s argument that the symbolic should be understood as being related to The Law . But here amongst the word salads (Radio Crazy as the Stones’ Voice Dialogue technique calls it ), alongside Wittgenstein’s unknowable or incomparable beetles, one comes across the frustration of Lacan’s Mathemes (we can also think of frustration leading to thought as described by Bion and his negative K – or the aspects of the partial object theory of Klein that also influenced Deleuze and Guattari ). This frustration seems to be why we get word salads as apophenic lines of flight, Deleuze and Guattari’s point was to use this embodied tendency of the mind to desire to escape for intentional practice, hence their honorific of the ‘artistic’ schizophrenic, but with regards psychology and the experience of dissociative states, these escape attempts of the mind, from knots as both Laing and Lacan called them, do indeed lead to lines of flight as the body, rather than the ‘will’ (it is worth thinking of the bodywork of Moshe Feldenkrais here where he distinguishes between ability and will. He claims ability is more important than will, he uses an example of having the sense of self and awareness to feel the fly land on the end of a feather (ability) something one cannot do at the end of an iron rod . Gregory Bateson discusses a similar thing with regards to “Samuel Butler’s insistence that the better an organism ‘knows’ something, the less conscious it becomes of its knowledge i.e there is a process whereby knowledge (or ‘habit’ – whether of action, perception or thought) sinks to deeper and deeper levels of the mind” . Again we can relate this back to the quote by Lefebvre above of primary and secondary nature), tries to work out and communicate, express, divulge, these unspeakable, unutterable, unmentionable feelings and the resulting verbal expression thus sounds like a word salad to someone they are communicated to who has a very different emotional subjectivity (Bateson argues this is the Ecology of Mind in his question and answer session with his daughter ) the language games are very different and the mental health professional trying to untangle them is playing, unavoidably, an often more institutionally hegemonic game, no matter the intentions of either party.
However, it is also in this sense that narrative becomes highly important in mental health recovery studies. But with respect to this import we still have the problem of normalisation and its relation to agency and the person in the subaltern position’s relation to the means of production within that and thus the complex problematic of their right to speak, or even the struggle, the fight to speak, for and as oneself, oneselves, themself, themselves.

Framing the experience

My own experience of voice hearing and dissociation leads me to enjoy the work of Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett as they chime with my own experience, some of which I have tried to convey by leaving this article as part word salad, one that has a social theoretic and cultural referential framing within which to situate it, that also creates vacuoles in what would otherwise be a standard academic text. So, therefore, I have left the example narratives without citations. As such I do find the theory of Deleuze and Guattari useful with regards my self-understanding, their theory of assemblages is one I find can be adapted to earlier theories of nexi, phantasms and constructs. Ron Coleman argued that the voices are real , this is the same argument Laing quotes Isaacs as proposing about phantasms , however assemblages have a more complex and dynamic morphology . I also find the communicative ethics of Jurgen Habermas and the recognition theory of Axel Honneth useful too, they have the possibility to ground the experiences of the psychotic and the theories of Deleuze and Guattari in a potential theory of recognition (accepting the challenges Foucault’s theories of power presented for Habermas ), and between these theories one can use the plethora of theories that have tried to reconcile Habermas, Foucault, Freudian, Weberian and Marxist theories of economic organisation (especially Frankfurt School) and from there is this well-trodden path seems to lead via autonomism outwards to semiotic theories of modern working relations (whether Hardt and Negri , Bifo Berardi , Silvia Federici and the affective body, or Kathi Weeks and the problem with work , especially after 7 years of austerity). I find the theory of recognition when combined with what Deleuze called microfascist reterritorialization especially useful, especially where Habermas’ use of the term Verstehen means less ‘consensus’ and more ‘mutual understanding’ , an understanding that allows for disagreement and refusal, respect and recognition in other words, whilst still supporting a right to be, to exist. But I do see with regards autonomism’s criticism of the problem of work (and David Graeber’s concept of bullshit jobs ) in Deleuze’s postscript to a control society an interesting reflection of middle class white collar aspirational subjectivity and its relation to the entrepreneurial side of mental health recovery, especially the idea of ‘recovery champions’- people whose exemplary recovery as peers are supposed to lead a path for others, but is often another career path for those with advantages.

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part five)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 31, 2018 @ 7:06 am

Unrecovery Reprise
But then let us read about anti-language as well as psychoanalytic interpretations of word salads, as they CAN be broken down and made sense of, think of the purpose of the vernacular, of Cockney Rhyming slang, the Polari of Carry On films, or the slang in Hip hop after reading Henry Louis Gates Junior’s Signifying Monkey, then skat like a jazz singer, read Lefebvre’s Production of Space and think of the spatial archaeology of one’s own knowledge base and learn to surf the signifiers of the linguistic architecture. Think of whether we can ever elude control? Think of the deliberate obfuscation of Deleuze and Guattari. Think Sokal and postmodern nonsense , but then think of Lewis Carroll and the Jabberwocky. Mathemes were never supposed to be mathematical.

Apophenic low theory narrative example #2

“A different Carroll, Peter Carroll, set up the Illuminates of Thanateros and like Dion Fortune and her book on psychic protection, the early learning path is to write a banishing ritual. To join the order one sends off one’s banishing ritual to be examined. But only a fool sends off their best ritual. However, before he committed suicide Ian Curtis of Joy Division wrote a song ‘She’s Lost Control’ but what do we do in the Society of Control as described by Gilles Deleuze once all are secrets are gone. Or as George Clinton sung in the early Doo Wop group The Parliaments, ‘All your goodies are gone’ the very thing that happened to Prince Gronniosaw of the Kingdom of Zaara, like Caliban, gave up his gold chains to the white merchant in exchange for that talking book, the Bible. When you’ve given it away like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, managed as they are by Louise Mensch’s partner, she of the Starbucks fallacy, the white slave trader’s wife. You rewrite history, again and again and again and again. You write beyond the pleasure principle. As the Chosen Brothers sing on a Rhythm and Sound Burial Mix riddim, ‘Making History’. The secret technology of the Voodoo Ray, not microwave ray guns and tin foil hat specious put downs (forgetting that conspiracy theories on the Illuminati stem from pro-Monarchist supporters of the sovereign will, French versions of either Hobbes or Filmer). Or as the Scots say it’s Oor Mad History cognisant of the Dialectic of the Enlightenment.
Apophenia can be a skill to be mastered, an embodied one at that. Yes, the artist does it more economically productively, or at least the commercial ones, but then we have the autonomist’s refusal of work, what is a greater refusal of work than the schizophrenic refusing to do the abusive Master Signifier’s logical work and stop making sense. This is where mental health recovery can be a form of biopolitics. It isn’t that we don’t want psychotics to feel more joy… We do! We do! It is just that the normalisation game is a game of capture in the name of observance and abeyance to a hegemony. There is a legitimation crisis after any economic crisis, with austerity the logic behind the cuts wasn’t just at the level of economics but ideology too. But the artist needs to ask whether and where art is complicit in capitalist exploitation, and how we may never achieve an ideal economics, in the way that the S&M Dominatrix’ ‘edging’ will never achieve the full Deleuze and Guattari schizophrenic. The arc will never reach the inside of the circumference. One needs to know the feeling of rolling the car on the bend to recognise that feeling when you reach a limit. JG Ballard’s Crash. Rather than the psychogeographer’s derive, the rice burner’s drifting, throughout all seven Fast and Furious franchises, Mad Max: Fury Road like the Gulf War never happened, flaming guitars, poetry and all. And then! Let us make that edging sensation an art of life. Subspace as China Mieville’s Immer, waking dream with ice cream scream. Like the Brethren of the Free Spirit sinning their way to heaven and getting slaughtered every weekend in the crap towns of Britain. Towns so crap that the jealous sub-dwellers of the urban psychic undertow (that fuels Britain more than anyone, even in mental health services, cares to admit) demanded more volumes be produced so that their towns could be included in the glorious roster of crap as well, returning the gift. A punk Gnostic refusal of the top-down nature of the symbolic law in everyday life. ASBOs, CTOs and a fuck you too. The Common Knowledge imaginary sneaking potshots via vacuole wormholes at the Master Signifier. We have no Bibliothèque here, we burn our idols like they burned the Alexandrian library; Goths, Vandals and other signifier surfing no-mads of the edgelands of the Bardo. In the film Finding Nemo, the fish get caught up in a dragnet, the shoal of cod seem to have what Nietzsche called a herd mentality, voting for their own austerity. They manage to escape this time as Nemo learnt that they need to keep on swimming down, just as Daedalus taught Theseus how to find the minotaur, and encouraging the cod with this information Nemo uses the critical mass of the cod collective to break the trawler’s net and escape. Knossos itself is often acknowledged as being the labyrinth, the city itself, rather than the unconscious seething somewhere below this first city. Daedalus gave two bits of advice to Theseus before he left Athens: One don’t do anything anybody tells you to do. Two, to find the minotaur keep going down. Of course, Theseus needed the narrative thread of Ariadne to return. But it was Dionysius, the mad god of the Eleusinian Mysteries, running the show as the Ring Master, in his mother, Demeter, goddess of the abundant harvest, the cornucopia, the horn of plenty’s name (“Your mum!”) who ultimately settled down with Ariadne after the depressive Theseus abandoned her when he got home to found the great and historic Athenian demos.”

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part four)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 30, 2018 @ 5:28 pm

Apophenic low theory narrative example #1
“With regards the arc and the circle, in that the arc never quite reaches the circle (kind of like ‘edging’ in the S&M sub/dom world), I would say a schizophrenic line of flight is more a tangent off of the surface of the Body without Organs. When I get a voice insertion, or the obverse a dystonic emotion (what is the difference? That is more than a rhetorical question) my mind is disturbed and my inclination is to babble, psychobabble, toss a word-salad as Laing called it. To signify. To think, rant, rap, filibuster my way out of the situation, where as a solution to Sartre’s Huis Clos the audience of the singer in the song ‘Exit’ (that was first aired on Sesame Street, Episode 666) is to leave the room until finally the singer is left alone. But it as if I am cornered, chased, as if I am dealing with a case of entrapment. Hounded by leading questions, found guilty until proven innocent like Kafka’s Josef K. Haunted by memories or ‘voices that are real’? I pringle. As the poet said “Once you pop you can’t stop!”
Do I really want to break on through to the other side? Open the doors to perception? Leave Kafka’s cathedral by a side door? Or have I been violated by a punitive system that then terrorises me like a tyrannical, artificial group of Bernean Schlemiels asking for forgiveness, velociraptures, evangelist accelerationists, whilst simultaneously demanding that the guilt be mine, their bigotry demanded by them to be an aspect of my own identity, an ideal alienated self, that I must take in as my own in order to be forgiven a judgement that was prejudiced and erroneous in the first place. My existence, my form of life, seemingly the cause of their legitimation crisis, a Homo Sacer, that is more likely related to difficulties with a relation to a discursive reality principle. And never question that cognitive dissonance! Beethoven’s 9th has disrupted an answer that cannot be questioned. The moment you do that it proves you are wrong. The granny in Little Britain hitting the piano as she leaves the room, but at least she worked hard for it! When it is my responsibility, it is obviously my responsibility; when it is their responsibility it still seems to end up being my responsibility.
A mind choked by well-poisoning ivy climbing the wall of my Negative K. Is the answer to accept that it is I who has some irrevocable sin that I must live in ever-present existential angst until I, having been deprived a healthy bios, become no more than ‘zöe’, to die awaiting someone else’s belief in an after-life that I do not believe exists, brought up as I was an atheist, a minoritarian narrative in a Capitalism that has failed to do a genealogy of morals with regards its own Protestant Ethic? Is this an individual phenomenon? A family phenomenon? A social phenomenon? An economic phenomenon? A local phenomenon? A regional one? A national one? A global one? Trump has been elected! Democracy has left the building. The authoritarians are refusing to leave, as to do so would be to take responsibility in a group dynamic and thus be vulnerable to the same scapegoating themselves, Rene Girard’s scapegoat, the subject of an Asch experiment,. My friends and allies the nomads still pop their heads back in the door to see if I am still singing, but then those who choose to leave can always leave. My filibuster is ongoing, it is my every day, waking thought.”

Insufficient Exegesis

In the sense that Wittgenstein uses his ‘beetles’ to explain the difficulty of labelling emotions then the ‘psychobabble’ of the ‘schizophrenic’ that RD Laing describes as a ‘word salad’, is akin, if one wishes to think of such a Batesonian ecology of mind and take the etymological roots of the word ‘akin’ literally here, and say ‘to escaping the unpleasure of the family’ – there is the possibility of a word play with these roots and use the neologism ‘akith’ here but one would have to be able to show a vital relationship, I hope to open up the possibility of doing so with Agamben’s idea of Homo Sacer and the schizophrenic on welfare under ‘permanent austerity’ . A perspective useful to interpret word salads is to see them as waking dreams closer to sleeping dreams as understood in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams where the line of flight stems from escaping the unconscious censoring apparatus. Freud argued that the Superego was silent and the Id noisy. So the survival instinct, the Superego, Thanatos, can be thought of as closer to the fight or flight directed, earlier evolved, silent parts of the brain and the Id, Eros, as closer to the noisier, emotional, later developed, mammalian limbic system and beyond through the emotions relation to cognition – speech and other expressive forms of communication – from which we then arrive at the text and other mediated forms, including technology and architecture. We can think of Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas of assemblages and deterritorialisation here , along with Daniel Dennett’s decentred consciousness , although to do that one returns to the issue of qualia, and this does revolve around embodiment and the BwO.
The idea that being delusional is something wholly problematic in itself seems suspect to me, in the ’70s in the UK the Mental Patients Union released a pamphlet with a fish on the hook on the cover . It symbolised mental illness as the ‘struggle to get off the hook of some fisherman’. Think of the illocutionary manipulative language of say converting evangelist Christians or some salesperson using NLP to nail their commissions; think of those courses for misogynist men on how to ‘pull more women’ – ‘pickup culture’ (eg Roosh V); and then imagine the schizophrenic’s memories that, like the emotions of a veteran suffering PTSD from one too many firefights, flees those feelings associated with trigger words or trigger experiences, whether personal, social or even architectural. Lines of flight deterritorialising rather than the circling aphasic returns of a masochist returning to their abusive partner, being told they are responsible for the other’s feelings, for the other’s needs, partially knowing it to be untrue but the pain of parting seems unbearable, a pain that seems to have no bodily source or explanation, yet it’s just not right, not conscionable, but ‘what is the right bodily feeling to have?’ Then think of the language of the sexually repressed family trying to create new capitalist work subjectivities in-house, the language, say of ‘choice’ brought home from work, and then applied to their own children, the difference between the disciplinarian societies of Foucault or the Laingian authoritarian nexus and the internalised subjectivities of the control societies of Deleuze .
Figures suggest that 65% of people diagnosed with psychosis have a history of CSA or CPA (child sexual or physical abuse) and along with the evidence of trauma there is also the evidence of attachment theory but also those with mental health issues will be affected by the inability and lack of support families have in dealing with such trauma, there are no (or rather very few) guidelines, at least not in common knowledge, but rather than blaming them (esp. when clearly not the perpetrators) it is important to look at the communication involved, not just the support but the language involved and the relation to the elective affinities the people supporting have to certain unhelpful ideologies, including say consumerism that stems from the need to maximise sales as part of advertising in everyday media and its application to the self and work ethics, again for example Deleuze’s Society of Control . The history of the National Schizophrenic Fellowship and its relation to the charge of ‘mother blaming’ towards attachment theory and anti-psychiatry, that now can be understood as the neglect of families, the pressures on mothers from a social point of view and the denial of their struggles by the ideology of the day. Where the charge ‘don’t blame the mother’ can be better understood as a statement of ‘don’t blame the system that leaves mothers or families in that position in the first place’. We want to be able to do this without ignoring the importance of significant others in a child’s emotional development and the place trauma and communicative nexi both have on the development and later adult life.

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part three)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 29, 2018 @ 10:09 am

What is unrecovery?

I would now like to return from this diversion on anti-recovery to the thinking, acting, speaking and/or writing psychotic subject who finds him/her/themself in any disadvantaged, concrete situation during a period of austerity, the basis for unrecovery. The revolution of everyday life is part of my experience of madness, of unrecovery, turning word salads into intentional nonsense (connecting the signified whilst leaping adjacent signifiers) is an escape vector that I use whilst dissociating. Apophenia can become a creative act. This is not a romanticism so much as a pragmatic respect for my own experience, I am not making out it is fun, a lot of the time it is sheer hell, BUT this IS a psychic warrior autodidact skillset masterclass, this is not a replicable recovery technique for a future Capita or ATOS outsourced but state funded privatised CMHT in the neo-conservative wet dream. To govern this technique one would need an Inception team not a Community Mental Health Team. This is an exemplary blueprint for the DIY punk unrecoveristas out there, not to be copied but to ripped up, torn up and detourned again into something else other than is written here. It is about making the most out of being in social circumstances where the probability of enduring multiple episodes is high.

Gone on Lollardy

It is when Henri Lefebvre writes, “Nothing disappears completely however; nor can what subsists be defined solely in terms of traces, memories or relics. In space, what came earlier continues to underpin what follows. The preconditions of social space have their own particular way of enduring and remaining actual within that space. Thus primary nature may persist, albeit in a completely acquired and false way, within ‘second nature’ – witness urban reality ” that I am minded Freud’s unconscious , but also of Antonio Damasio’s criticism of the possibilities of such an unconscious as well as theories of trauma and the body . I am also minded of Henry Louis Gates Jr’s discussion of the Nigerian god Esu , who’s representation filtered its way through the trafficking of slaves into Black American culture, and from there, not just modern contemporary African American literature, but contemporary urban music culture. Richard Bentall notes that one perspective on higher rates of diagnosis amongst the urban black population is the cultural divide between those diagnosing and those diagnosed . However that urban note aside, we have to deal with more than urban space with regards the symbolism of Esu and what it meant for narrative. Esu had two mouths, and whilst it had a spiritual meaning in the god’s native Nigeria, for slaves in America it represented hearing two dissonant voices. It is tempting to talk of dystonic and syntonic experiences here but that is to miss the point. Esu was a trickster and so there is a sense where both voices were dystonic, where the body of the slave was neither and/or both fully his own, his own body speaking, nor and/or his master’s, although the slave was his master’s property in the eyes of the legal system of the time. We can think here of Hegel’s famous Master-Slave dialectic , and to skip the preliminary class, the outshot of this dialectic is that it is the slave that becomes conscious through alienating him/herself into his/her product/labour, the Master fails to get the recognition he is seeking. Marx later uses this dialectic for the purposes of working class consciousness. But to return to Lefebvre and his argument with regards a false presentation of primary nature within ‘second’ nature, which is a basic Marxist argument for mediation, we immediately have presented to us with the psychotic, a person in the centre of a hegemonic space. If we entertain for a moment the arguments of R.D. Laing and Gregory Bateson with regards authoritarian dynamics and the two voices of the double bind, and return to Lefebvre’s point that nothing disappears completely and what comes earlier continues to underpin what follows with regards trauma, we have both a trauma based AND a communicative AND a class based argument behind the experience of psychosis, where a social symbolic language is inscribed on the body of the psychotic, much like Kafka’s machine in the Penal Colony , but one that combines both a Laingian argument AND Bentall’s note that a paranoiac is someone treated as a ‘bad me’ by a ‘poor me’ (whether as internal thoughts driven by memory through trauma or relations with others (singular or groups) who are eluding their own mental health issues (and one can think of the exploitative nature of Milton Friedman’s externalities here , and moreover think of the relation of the German translation of externality to Marx’s writings on alienation )).
In the book Madness Contested , David Pilgrim and Floris Tomasini discuss reasonableness, the ability to pass in society with regards the skills in what Goffmann called the Presentation of Self in Everyday Life . Pilgrim notes that there is a case for ‘collective reasonableness’ and it is here that social movements are formed. But Pilgrim’s like Goffmann’s argument was one of the workplace, one of institutions and accepted language and norms in these areas. These social spaces as Lefebvre observes have their own unconscious undercurrent, and especially in the lumpen-proletariat undercurrents have undertows. When pulled under the waves (the mythology of the electronic band Drexciya, or for that matter Charles Kingsley’s Water Babies) it is handy to know the language of Sooty and Sweep, the Lords of Misrule. We can think of this with respect to Mackenzie Wark’s low theory “I am interested in low theory, which comprise those somewhat rarer moments when, coming out of everyday life, you get a certain milieu that can think itself. It happens when there is a mixing of the classes (another thing higher education doesn’t do). It happens in certain spaces that we used to call bohemia. Low theory is the attempt to think everyday life within practices created in and of and for everyday life, using or misusing high theory to other ends. It happens in collaborative practices that invent their own economies of knowledge.”

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part two)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 28, 2018 @ 8:23 am

The standpoint

In an ImROC newsletter Professor Geoffrey Shepherd stated that a consensus was required for the word ‘recovery’. He also referred to Lewis Carroll in order to explain his argument, Humpty Dumpty’s discussion on ‘words’ with Alice in Through The Looking Glass:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. But the question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things. “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all. ”

Shepherd is, in using this quote, referring to what the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan called a Master Signifier, he wants it to serve for all the discursive signified of ‘recovery’, (and we can only assume by implication that he hopes ImROC will supply it). But what if rather than needing a Master Signifier, recovery has up to now been a black box to support a particular paradigm in a certain competition amongst social movements or paradigms (as Nick Crossley describes such competition ). Gregory Bateson describes a Black Box as something that is an explanatory principle that scientists decide to stop at . In this case recovery has been a convenient truth, a convenient signifier, for several competing paradigms. The word itself amongst these paradigms has a history that goes back to Tuke and Pinel, it didn’t start with the disagreement over the possibilities of recovery from Dementia Praecox between Kraeplin and Bleuler. However, what if, like in the 1980 film ‘Airplane!’, when someone says, ‘the shit is going to hit the fan’, the trope sort of plays itself out. The plane crashes this time, due to some combination of a return of the trauma model, neuroscience and austerity, and one doesn’t have to invoke Trostky’s definition of a crisis of capital to know that under austerity this black box now needs unpacking after the crash. rather than being turned into a hegemonic Master Signifier that whitewashes the class issues and economic effects of austerity out.
Shepherd, later in the same newsletter, discusses Anti-Recovery . I want to be clear here ‘unrecovery’ is something quite different to anti-recovery. ImROC will never be able to supply unrecovery as a commodified recovery techne, as it is born (as Henry Louis Gates Jr shows in his discussion of the history of Black-American Literature, and its relation to the history of slave narratives ) of the speech of Chakravorty Spivak’s subaltern , of the vernacular, of the struggle of the precariat, the working class, marginalised identities, it is a pedagogy of the oppressed , of the wretched of the earth … of the mad. However, I must briefly address Shepherd’s criticism of anti-recovery and then move on. Shepherd argues that [A reduction in services] was done initially to address the profligacy and corruption of international bankers. More recently, this rationale has been dropped and government has made it clear that it is simply part of a longer-term policy to reduce public expenditure (and by implication to increase expenditure on private providers) .” Which seems shocking. In fact to confuse a deliberate neo-conservative but radical rewrite of economic policy that shook up the previous Keynesian complacency (in the face of increasing inequality cf. Thomas Piketty ), that attempted to blame a deficit (that given the bank bail-out was reasonably moderate and furthermore was being paid off by the Labour government prior to the crisis) on overspending in services and suggest for the first time, since at least WWII if not earlier, that getting the private sector to pick up the slack instead in a recession when market confidence was low whilst cutting services was a good idea, when said private domestic sector in such a market would have to rely on risk-taking by said financial sector (that was to blame) was instead “to address the profligacy and corruption of international bankers” is an economic illiteracy bordering on Liam Byrne’s handwritten satirical joke “There’s no money left”. In fact by 2013 Wren-Lewis points out, a Financial Times survey had found that less than 20% of economists still thought that austerity was necessary , and 4 years later in 2017 the same paper, the Financial Times , showed that the UK was the only Western economy that had increased its GDP whilst simultaneously lowering levels of the average wage, nearly all the other countries had, with less austere policies increased both their GDP and average wage, yet Shepherd claims that UK austerity policies were to “address the profligacy and corruption of international bankers’ rather than lower the average wage to make the country competitive? Something Jeremy Hunt had suggested at a Tory party conference in 2015, competitive on wages with the USA, India and China no less . And this happening at a time when there was a media attack on the welfare state and arguments about ‘benefit dependency’.
Shepherd goes on to state that “[his] own suspicion is that those who criticise supporting recovery as opening the way for service reductions are actually expressing
their broader – and very correct – concerns about the policies of austerity and their effects on public services… but it is important not to get the two mixed up. It is like blaming shortages of school or hospital places on EU immigration.” I would argue that this is a false analogy. What he labels as ‘anti-recovery’ is closer to an attempt to acknowledge that, since the imposition of tighter cost-aware policies under austerity, the type and form of recovery techniques have narrowed as a direct consequence of these policies. That as a paradigm the ‘competitive success’ gauged towards ‘private business’ (as he states himself) and therefore the concurrent requisite profit maximisation has left us with more coercive recovery practices than we had 15 years ago when the contemporary paradigm of recovery that he supports started to make inroads against the bio-medical model. It is closer to acknowledging that part of the much-mooted self-reflective practice of recovery practitioners should (but has failed to) include a critique of the forces (both economic and policy – having government advisory contracts doesn’t help here) that have changed the meaning of recovery that he is alluding to, so in this sense it is a left-wing critique of class relations to the means of production and its effect on the knowledge base quite the opposite of right wing immigration-baiting in order to mask these effects. So, unfortunately, when he quotes Lewis Carroll in his opening paragraph and calls for a master signifier; a master signifier that is tied up (as language always is) in the contemporary economic hegemony which thus has a hand in dictating that master meaning of recovery such a discursive meaning (and bear in mind Lacan said reality was discursive ) requires the very criticism Shepherd bemoans in the newsletter without such criticism austerity would therefore define recovery even more.

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery (part one)

Filed under:UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 27, 2018 @ 7:49 pm

Groundwork for an apophenic presentation

“That’s the best thing,” he thought, “I’d better try a different approach. This is what I’ll do – I’ll just be an outside observer, and nothing more. I’m an onlooker, an outsider, that’s all I’ll say. And whatever happens it won’t be me who’s to blame. That’s it. That’s how it will be now.”
And our hero did indeed do that as he had decided and went back the more readily for having, thanks to a happy thought, become an outsider.
“It’s the best thing. You’re not responsible for anything, and you’ll see what you should.”

This article looks at unrecovery. Unrecovery is a general idea thought up in online discussions amongst the Recovery In The Bin (RitB) collective, a mental health activist group that was formed in response to concerns about mental health policy governance under first the coalition government in the UK from 2010-2015, and then under the Conservative government from 2015 to the present. Part of the claim of RitB is that the economic policy of austerity makes it harder to recover, and this is a direct consequence of the cost cutting, the narrowing of services available and the concurrent increase in NHS and outsourced private companies involved in recovery being required to reach outcome measures for auditing purposes as a response to austerity policy that as a consequence result in a move from guideline based best practice to more narrowly defined protocol to reach these outcomes that narrow the type of service ‘purchased’ or supplied by the NHS, whether it be CBT, Mindfulness, WRAP groups, peer services (that has also lost service users the parity of pay (argued for by Perkins and Repper ) due to the wage suppression that is part and parcel of service competition for contracts as well as the stagnation of wages that comes with austerity). We do not deny that people can and have recovered. The focus is on the social and economic factors that have affected not only the individual’s personal ability to recover through individual effort, but the social, economic and class factors that makes such recovery easier or harder, whilst identifying, in these times of austerity, a greater emphasis on individual effort thus creating a more punitive milieu for those struggling, especially when combined with the cuts to services that have previously supported these supposedly individual efforts. Many in RitB fully acknowledge that such pressures can exacerbate mental health issues. An acknowledgment that finds itself in opposition to the professed belief in bootstraps recovery that is analogous to the belief justifying Conservative benefit cuts that are premised on the idea that these cuts ‘help’ people on these benefits ‘into work’. As part of this ideology we have the belief in ‘benefit dependency’. An idea that is promoted both in the media and public service workplace despite situations in regions where the benefit Universal Credit is being piloted meaning that low paid workers for the DWP (who are also on Universal credit but in full time work) are being asked to push certain policies, including sanctions, that are premised on this idea that benefits create dependency.
Many of the other members of the collective have already been discussing these arguments in length at conferences around the country and in articles over the last 3 years that RitB has been organising. I would like instead to focus on the practice of unrecovery, or at least an argument for a possible perspective of what it is, or could be. Part of this argument is premised on the idea that nobody WANTS to be ill. The idea that ‘recovery is a choice’ is a contradiction. Everybody is always already, every day, working to recovery. Recovering in a sense is a necessity, an aspect of self-preservation therefore it is not a choice. Being ill is crap. When people remain ill for long periods then there really is something wrong. But that something wrong has causes that might, and often does, include the social, structural, communicative, linguistic, ideological and economic factors, not just some individual psychological-behavioural or genetic/biological issue, or for that matter merely a failure to address past trauma. As such, much like ‘unbirthdays’ in Alice In Wonderland, every day that is not conforming to a Tory normalising agenda is an ‘unrecovery’ day. To put the idea that recovery is not just a ‘personal journey’ but a social and political journey back on the agenda in a world of austerity-driven recovery outcome measures, we now have ‘unrecovery’. Happy unrecovery day to you

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A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery – Introduction

Filed under:Uncategorized,UnRecovery — posted by Schizostroller on July 26, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

A Field Guide to Getting the Lost Art of Unrecovery

Introduction

This chapter is an attempt to write a navigation of the linguistic terrain that a subject defined as psychotic, by a mode of diagnosis used by the state as sovereign, may find him/herself in, from an academic-participant perspective. As such it will be first written apophenically (as a ‘psychotic’, writing in a stream of consciousness like Virginia Woolf or James Joyce, or speaking for and of oneself in a Freudian clinic) and then in the sense that Ernest Hemmingway, supposedly commenting on his own writing style, claimed that he “wrote when drunk, edited whilst sober”, having written, I shall then edit the text down and try to untangle, in to academically digestible parts, such an experience (following on from an attempt to do so in an article I wrote for Asylum magazine in 2012 ) but rather than try to analyse the narrative in a purely Freudian or analytical, sense, I shall try to explain it with reference modern social theory. Gregory Bateson argues that induction is all very well, it is deduction based on a knowledge of applicable theories that improves a scientific argument . This social theory shall be the frame to my Jackson Pollock’s logorrhoea, in Heideggerian terms, it unveils the enframing, Das Gestell, of the writing and in doing so I look for possible ways that an emancipatory practice can be thought, spoken or written into being, the limits of language and the possibilities of an embodied manumission that does not rest on alienated selves, at least not ideal selves, and their relationship to the Other, one that does not take the form of an unquestioning, uncritical, radical acceptance of the status quo. Thus, there is a morphogenetic non-Aristotlean (or non-Platonic) practice involved here.
In making the apophenic narrative more digestible I shall be using ideas of agency and space, language and thought. Within the realm of these ideas of agency I shall be exploring the possibilities of action for the psychotic i.e. ideas known in contemporary language as ‘choice’ – their possibilities, limits and the ideological use of the term. It shall be implied that as a narrative arc of a UK based psychotic, the chapter’s locus will be one that is takes place within the architecture of the UK NHS and welfare system, and the relation to it in everyday life that is often a part of the ‘psychotic’ experience. I shall also be exploring the quadratic relation between NHS, market, work and alternative possibilities available to the autonomous subject looking at some current ideas of subjectivation: I will be employing the theorists Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Henri Lefebvre to look at the space of this terrain. Goffman for the dramaturgical relation, Foucault for the forms of governance involved, Deleuze for the multiplicities involved in these relations, Guattari for the transversality, and Lefebvre to look at the spatial aspects of this agency and terrain. I shall also be looking at the ideological forms that are formed in this contested terrain, for this endeavour I will be using Max Weber, Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, Nick Crossley, as well as a Sigmund Freud, Wilfrid Bion, Ronald Laing and Jacques Lacan and again Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. I will be reflecting on constructs (or phantasms) using ideas such as Ronald Laing’s authoritarian nexus and Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of assemblages.
With reference to ideas of the body, whilst navigating this terrain, I will also be referring to the cognitive work of neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio and Daniel Freeman, the work on memory of Charles Fernyhough, as well as contemporary theories of embodiment, and from here I shall attempt a criticism of the relation of such a body to the NHS system via its use of applied techniques such as CBT, DBT, Recovery Stars and other audited outcome measure based tools referring to the proliferation and homogenisation of such tools within the NHS under neoliberalism. And finally, to avoid a nihilist critique I will look at possibilities of creating future action and practices that lead to more autonomous and self-determining ways of living.
The title refers both to the term ‘unrecovery’ developed by the mental health activist collective Recovery In The Bin and to a book by the author Rebecca Solnit called ‘The Field Guide to Getting Lost ’, with a hint towards Michel Foucault’s conception of Life as Art . As this proposal uses a variety of critical and reflective theoretical positions, this chapter will be a preliminary sketch for further detailed studies.

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Hearing Voices, EVP, Field Recording (some notes)

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Schizostroller on July 1, 2018 @ 1:46 pm

“Proust’s great familiarity with the problem of the aura requires no emphasis. Nevertheless, it is notable that he alludes to it at times in terms which comprehend its theory: ‘Some people who are fond of secrets flatter themselves that objects retain something of the gaze that has rested on them.’ (The ability, it would seem, of returning the gaze.) ‘They believe that monuments and pictures present themselves only beneath the delicate veil which centuries of love and reverence on the part of so many admirers have woven about them. This chimera,’ Proust concludes evasively, ‘would change into truth if they related it to the only reality that is valid for the individual, namely the world of his emotions.’”

In a dingy rented house in Nottingham, around 1995, I started to hear voices. Although they would later be all-encompassing I originally started hearing them in music, in the rhythms of the bass, the drums and melodies of records and CDs that I listened to. Although at one point early on I got to the stage where I found myself standing on one leg with arms outstretched following the instructions of the voices I heard in a song, the ridiculousness of the situation consequently meant that it was one of the few times I ever followed instructions from voices. The other two times I followed instructions I found myself in pubs in strange parts of the city supposedly to meet on a date. The date never turned up, and I concluded these voices didn’t necessarily have my interests at heart. Although I later would use the ability to hear and dialogue with voices through sound as a call and response technique whilst improvising on my bass guitar that would later lead to an interest in the practice of free improvisation as a model for bottom up ways of musical self-expression (David Borgo’s book Sync or Swarm is a good starting point here) and as a practice of everyday life, for a long time I stopped communicating with my voices, I saw them as a nuisance and I followed the medical model taking medication and trying to ignore them.

In a materialist interpretation of the mind as a material aspect of the body (that is as opposed to a dualism inherited from Descartes where mind and body are separate), an embodied understanding of mind, hearing voices can be seen as a projection of one’s emotions onto the Other that returns and reflects the projected feelings symbolically as language, I discussed this partially in a previous article for Asylum [insert title and issue], where I tried to work out ways of turning this experience into everyday practice. Although I personally hold this view of voices, that they are linguistic projections of unmet needs reflected back from the void (think the wish fulfilment discussed by Freud in the Interpretation of Dreams , but in waking conscious, a continuation on from the existential detachment experienced in the film Waking Life, such that the Id and Super Ego take a roll in more direct communication with the aware Ego, where rather than a response to the day before, the response is to the Ego’s waking thoughts, emotions and other bodily needs, whilst otherwise the voices can be seen as much the same as dreams) when processing trauma as a self defence mechanism that does not always work effectively I find myself experiencing the voices as real. In the Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche spoke of the role of the chorus in the Ancient Greek Tragedies, he argued that the traditional view of Greek tragedy views tragedy as arising out of the tragic chorus and was “to begin with, nothing but chorus” and then much like the Greek Gods of Julian Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind , who Jaynes saw as existing as real entities for the Greeks a (view that famously helped Patsy Hague and got Marius Romme to start listening to what voice hearers said about their voices) so Nietzsche speaks of a theory of a certain Schlegel that suggested that the chorus might be synonymous with the audience, the ‘ideal spectator’:

“We had supposed all along that the spectator, whoever he might be, would always have to remain conscious of the fact that he had before him a work of art, not empiric reality, whereas the tragic chorus of the Greek is constrained to view the characters enacted on the stage as veritably existing. The chorus of the Oceanides think that they behold the actual Titan Prometheus, and believe themselves every bit as real as the god. Are we seriously to assume that the highest and purest type of spectator is he who, like the Oceanides, regards the god as physically present and real? That it is characteristic of the ideal spectator to rush on stage and deliver the god from his fetters? We had put our faith in an artistic audience, believing that the more intelligent the individual spectator was, the more capable he was of viewing the work of art as art; and now Schlegel’s theory suggests to us that the perfect spectator viewed the world of the stage not at all as art but as reality.”

One is here reminded of Wilfred Bion’s assertion that the psychotic sees words as things in themselves [fill out more], and whilst a whole psychoanalytic tradition from Freud via Bion and Klein to Lacan has held this view somewhat closely, if we look at this interpretation through the eyes of contemporary dialogic therapeutic attempts to work with voice hearers, we can move to an interpretation of voices as whole psychological constructs that appear as things-in-themselves as opposed to words-as-things, and we find ourselves nearer this understanding of the chorus in Schlegel or Jaynes’ Bicameral Mind that can then have therapeutic benefit. As Ron Coleman’s group therapy buddy said to him, ‘the voices are real’.
As it happens Nietzsche rejects Schlegel’s interpretation for Schiller’s “where the chorus is seen as a living wall which tragedy draws about itself in order to achieve insulation from the actual world, to preserve its ideal ground and its poetic freedom.” Similarly, and to keep us in the realm of dealing with for want of a definition psychologically extreme states, variously called psychosis, schizophrenia, voice hearing etc, Bion argues that:

“For personalities that seem to be incapable of true dreaming, the border-line psychotic and psychotic parts of the personality, the theory of consciousness as the sense organ of psychic quality is not satisfactory… the weakness of this theory of consciousness is manifest in the situation for which I have proposed the theory of alpha function, by proliferating alpha-elements, is producing the contact barrier, an entity that separates elements so that those on one side are, and form, the conscious and on the other side are, and form, the unconscious” .

One can argue that the alpha function for Bion, within the personality, represents a similar barrier to the chorus in Schiller’s interpretation of Greek tragedy. For Schiller “the Greek chorus of satyrs, the chorus of primitive tragedy, moved on ideal ground, a ground raised high above the common path of mortals.” Nietzsche continues: “the satyr, as the Dionysiac chorist, dwells in a reality sanctioned by myth and ritual. That tragedy should begin with him, that the Dionysiac wisdom of tragedy should speak through him, is as puzzling a phenomenon as, more generally, the origin of tragedy from the chorus.” He then goes on to say:

“I believe the cultured Greek felt himself absorbed into the satyr chorus, and in the next development of Greek tragedy state and society, in fact all that separated man from man, gave way before an overwhelming sense of unity which led back into the heart of nature. The metaphysical solace (with which, I wish to say at once, all true tragedy sends us away) that, despite every phenomenal change, life is at bottom indestructibly joyful and powerful, was expressed most concretely in the chorus of satyrs, nature beings who dwell behind all civilization and preserve their identity through every change of generations and historical movement.
With this chorus the profound Greek, so uniquely susceptible to the subtlest and deepest suffering, who had penetrated the destructive agencies of both nature and history, solaced himself. Though he had been in danger of craving a Buddhistic denial of the will, he was saved by art and though art life reclaimed him.”

As I have said at times of extreme stress I experience the voices as real, in the Asylum article Signifier SurfingI tried to use the idea of going with this in a poetic form, as a signifying [psychotic] monkey as a form of lived defensive practice, in this book I want to look at moving on from this and incorporating psychotic experiences as an artistic practice of everyday life, specifically moving on from mental distress through living as an art-form as opposed to any particularly normative interpretation of recovery, but perhaps with less hostility to Buddhism than Nietzsche, and to do so I will start by making a comparison between mindfulness techniques and the art of field recordings. But first to set up the purpose of examining field recording as a practice let’s look at the way this human capacity for projective identification manifests itself. As I said I often hear voices in music, not just in music, I also here them in everyday sounds; the swish of a car wheel in the rain; or the hum of a refrigerator; or even my own guts –an unsettling experience for all whether one hears voices or not most successfully artistically expressed by John Cage with his famous piece 4’ 33”. I would like to compare this experience with Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) where practitioners have the belief that they are communicating with the dead via electronic devices such as tapes. The writer Konstantins Raudive is most well-known for his explorations in this regard, the voices are heard in static, often tape noise or hiss, or in other cases the static between clear signals from short wave radio. These voices that are heard can be interpreted as emanating from people believed to be communicating with the hearer through these media, often they are thought to be the dead, or sometimes (other) telepaths. It has been used artistically by the German musician Felix Kubin and the French sound artist Jacques Brodier with his machine the Filter of Reality. A good example from film is the radio transmissions in Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orphée where in a form of what is called in psychiatry and psychology ideas of reference, the protagonist [check name] wonders whether these repetitive codes he hears in the radio are meant just for him. Jo Banks in his book Rorschach Audio argues that EVP too is a projection onto an Other, in this case noise, that returns. This experience has a long history, in an article ‘The Esoteric Origins of the Phonograph’ the psychonaut Erik Davis quotes Ludwig Van Beethoven “I am electrical by nature…” says Beethoven “Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” Davis calls this ‘the electromagnetic imaginary’ it is “the mythic, animistic and just plain weird cultural dimensions of electricity and electromagnetism, those cosmic forces which carry an imaginative load as powerful for us as air, earth, water and fire were for the ancients.” It is here in what Freud called the uncanny that the barrier between the conscious and the unconscious becomes noise, and so conversely in noise we sometimes penetrate that veil and hear the other side. Davis quotes Marshall Mcluhan speaking of one of the first forms of electrical transmission, the telegraph: “whereas all previous technology (save speech itself) had in effect, extended some part of our bodies, electricity may be said to have outered the central nervous system itself…[and] to put one’s nerves outside is to initiate a situation –if not a concept – of dread.” This is also an apt description of the extreme paranoid state, one need only think of Judge Schreber’s conception of nerves. If we then take from this Lacan’s understanding of the symbolic, Bion’s alpha-function and Schiller’s chorus, we can see the chorus taking the place of the symbolic forbidding a crossing of the barrier created by the alpha-function, as our bodies are outered through technology, so voices of the dead return to us. As Davis remarks “because the self is partly a product of its communications, new media technologies remould the boundaries of being. As they do so, the shadows, doppelgängers and dark intuitions that haunt human identity begin to leak outside the self as well – and some of them take up residence in the emerging virtual spaces suggested by the new technologies.”
In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and although he was a scientist and an engineer he was also a spiritualist inspired by that movement of table knockers started by the Fox sisters (even though before their death they would admit to having faked their séances, the movement had already gained too much momentum to be stalled by such an admission). Edison even later attempted to create a radio device capable of capturing the voices of the dead. Such endeavours would be continued by researchers in to what would come to be known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) by researchers such as Konstantin Raudive who would move from the phonograph and radio hiss to electromagnetic tape.
Davis argues that “by siphoning a bit of the ‘soul’ into an externalised device, such technologies triggered the ancient dread of the doppelgänger, that psychic simulacrum of the self that moves through the world of its own eerie accord.” The experience of the ‘uncanny’. Davis continues by relating the scientist Thomas Watson describing listening to unearthly late night transmissions in Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory when he would listen to the snaps, crackles, pops and ‘ghostly grinding noises’ that could be heard on a telephone circuit “My theory at this time was that the currents causing these sounds came from explosions on the sun or that they were signals from another planet. They were mystic enough to suggest the latter explanation but I never detected any regularity in them that might indicate they were intelligent signals“ . Davis then cites the philosopher Avital Ronell “Science acquires its staying power from a sustained struggle to keep down the demons of the supernatural with whose visions, however, it competes.” Davis recounts that on 24 August 1924, when Mars passed unusually close to the Earth, military and civilian transmitters voluntarily shut down in order that the airwaves be left open in order to hear any transmissions from Martians, instead of a message though, radio hackers were treated to a symphony of freak signals. Davis states:

“These popular passions may seem corny in retrospect, but that is because the sublime and visionary edge of technology is always changing, opening up new virtualities that then become integrated into business as usual. For aeons, the hardwired side of human perceptions has been limited to our own unique sensory apparatus, an apparatus that partly determines the apparent nature of the world. New technologies of perception unfold the sublimity and threat, worlds which challenge us to reconfigure the limits of ourselves and to shape the meaning of the new spaces we find ourselves in.”

Davis invokes Marshall McLuhan who suggested that electronic technologies were bringing forth an ‘acoustic space’ in the place of the earlier ‘visual space’ that had dominated western thought for many centuries with its linear, logical and sequential explanation of the world. Electronic media eroded this objective grid of facts “dissolving it into a psychic, social and perceptual environment that resembles the kind of space we hear: multi-dimensional, resonant, invisibly tactile, ‘a total and simultaneous field of relations’” .
Davis does point out that McLuhan’s use of ‘acoustic space’ as an analogy for a psycho-social process did not require the activation of the hearing mechanism of the inner ear. However, in his book on voice hearing, ‘Muses, Madmen and Prophets’ , Daniel B. Smith does examine the auditory process that occurs in hearing the spoken word. He imagines a wife telling her husband that she wants a divorce. Whilst we spend much of our time when discussing hearing voices, discussing the act of hearing, Smith starts with the act of speaking:

“The first step she takes is to release her breath from the inflated lobes of her lungs into the branched tubing of her respiratory system. The main channel in this system is the trachea. It is approximately eight inches long, rigid and segmented like the hose of a shower nozzle. Its purpose, in this case, is to serve as the conduit for the breath toward the first obstacle necessary for the production of speech: the vocal cords. Vocal cords… are thin, muscular flaps, reminiscent of labia, that block the top of the trachea like the lid of a truck’s horn. When one wants to breathe, these flaps are loose. When one wants to speak, they form a barrier by pressing together, sealing off the throat from the breath. Its progression stanched, the breath accumulates behind the vocal cords. The pressure builds. Before long, the pressure becomes so great that the vocal cords can no longer maintain their seal, and they release – not all at once but fluidly, periodically, the way the length of an earthworm ripples as it moves across the soil. With speech this event never occurs in isolation. As the breath makes its dash upward, the pressure below the vocal cords decreases rapidly, and the cords, their strength regained, seal together again. More breath creates more pressure, which again builds. Another breaking point is reached, the cords again release, the pressure drops, the cords seal, and so on in a rapid, alternating dance of advance and retreat.
“By this process between flesh and breath is created the basic mechanical component of sound: the movement of an object. All sound – a voice, a G-minor chord on a banjo, the hum of a refrigerator – is made because of the movement of an object. When an object moves, it causes an alteration in air pressure, a pulsing of molecules. A sound that exists because of a uniform and constant alteration in air pressure, as in the ringing produced by a tuning fork, is called a pure tone. With the complicated apparatus of the human vocal system, such a pure sound is impossible to create; it would elude even the practiced control of a trained singer. Speech, however does not require purity; speech requires a variety capable of expressing content, and therefore, in addition to the vocal cords, the respiratory system is outfitted with a series of muscles… whose purpose in speech production is to manipulate the flow of breath as it passes through the body.”

This explanation is a pretty benign one, as Tristam Adams in his blog Notes From The Vomitorium suggests there are different takes as to the simplicity of the process of the vocal apparatus, the vocal tract:

“Firstly air is inhaled, upon exhalation, the vocal cords within the larynx are activated and vibrate, imbuing the exhaled air with sound. This sound then resonates and echoes through the remaining parts of the body that fall under the name ‘the vocal tract’. The tongue, palate, teeth, lips, nasal cavities all fall under the territory of the vocal tract. It is quite peculiar how so many different body parts are involved in the production of voice as Cavarero notes positively: “lips, mouth, palate, tongue, teeth, (…) larynx, nasal cavities, lungs, diaphragm – come together for acoustic purposes.”” (Cavarero, 2005, p.65) and Chion, negatively: “it paradoxically appears that the human body does not have a specific organ for phonation” (Chion, 1999, p.127). The voice is a result of many parts and yet reducible to none; neither the sum of each part, or the remainder after all parts. The very corporeal violence of speech is uncovered precisely at the moment when one contemplates each parts involvement and what role it serves within the body. The concept is simple; every body part that contributes to speech has a better, more vital, more important role to do, because, as Tomatis notes “we were given a digestive apparatus and a respiratory apparatus, but no specific oral-language apparatus.” (Tomatis, 1996, p.59).”

Nick Land invoking Professor Barker, goes further, in his palate-tectonics he sees the whole apparatus as a site of physical trauma:

“Due to erect posture the head has been twisted around, shattering vertebra-perceptual linearity and setting up the phylogenetic preconditions for the face. This right-angled pneumatic-oral arrangement produces the vocal apparatus as a crash-site, in which thoracic impulses collide with the roof of the mouth. The bipedal head becomes a virtual speech-impediment, a sub-cranial pneumatic pile-up, discharged as linguo-gestural development and cephalization take-off. Burroughs suggests that the proto-human ape was dragged through its body to expire upon its tongue. It’s a twin-axial system, howls and clicks, reciprocally articulated as a vowel-consonant phonetic palette, rigidly intersegmented to repress staccato-hiss continuous variation and its attendant becomings-animal. That’s why stammerings, stutterings, vocal tics, extralingual phonetics, and electro-digital voice synthesis are so laden with biopolitical intensity – they threaten to bypass the anthropostructural head-smash that establishes our identity with logos, escaping in the direction of numbers.”

This however is the apparatus that creates the sounds we hear when we learn to understand what sounds the language that we are born into, the words that point to signifiers that establish meaning in our minds sound like. And whether or not we hear voices in static, in our own heads, in music, if they are acousmatic, they appear alien to us, disembodied, not of the I, from an Other, this apparatus is the source of the words we learn to recognise when we hear them.

But once the breath has left the vocal tract, it is not the end of the communication. As Smith continues:

“After the wife’s breath passes the vocal cords, it makes its way through this muscular assembly line, all the while being shaped into the words she has decided to speak. After passing her lips – the last of the muscles – it shoots into the room like steam from a teakettle. Breath collides with air, completing the first of two alchemic steps on the way to speech: the transformation of breath into molecular movement. The air molecules in front of her mouth compress and open in pulses tuned to her words. These pulses travel forward and outward like an inflating balloon, moving toward their target.
At this point in the process, the voice becomes hard to define. Is the converted breath, hovering in the air between speaker and listener, yet a voice? Is it audible? Is it enough to state that at this point the voice has taken leave of the wife’s possession? She is no longer its owner or master. She has pushed it out into the world. It is independent.”

In the clinical treatment of voice hearing, one form of therapy is controversially to ask the voice hearer to listen to their voices and try and dialogue with them. The important thing is meaningful dialogue. Some of those working with voices such as Marius Romme and Dirk Corstens who use these treatments think of voices as constructs, there are others who work in a similar way who think of them similarly as metaphors, for example Trevor Eyles. A construct stems from the person’s life experience, voice hearing is often associated with trauma, but there are other stressors too, so such a construct will represent this but often metaphorically. When someone hears voices, a construct can be found that relates to certain feelings and experiences. I would argue that this construct comes as much from the person’s lifeworld as mere experience. However dialogic forms of therapy work on a dialogue with these constructs to untie the knots that have created them. This involves trying to understand what experience is relevant, and sometimes this involves understanding these voices as metaphors for such experiences. So this means shifting through some background noise, the chaos of our unconscious. For me with regards the artistic life then an embodied relation to this chaos that allows for improvisation, a form of action that is based in autonomous action, as opposed to top down forms of discipline, gives us a greater chance of navigating this maelstrom. However anyone who has ever improvised in a group setting, whether in music, comedy or acting, will know that the art requires the ability to be aware of and to listen to others. There’s a sense where a good hearing voices group will operate on these principles too. The mythical experience is often portrayed in the form of Ulysses sailing past the islands of the Sirens tied to the mast, with the ears of the oarsmen of his boat sealed with wax so that they cannot hear. For Adorno and Horkheimer in their book ‘The Dialectic of the Enlightenment’, the Ulysses figure represented the creation of the individual, the entrepreneurial subject. This chimes in many ways with Julian Jaynes citing of Homer as a distinctive disjunction in the evolution of the bicameral mind. Musically this figure is represented by the conductor and his orchestra. For those of us who cannot be entrepreneurs, who do not own capital, we are left with our ability to improvise. But I don’t want to deal with the full implications of improvisation in this article. I would like to focus just on hearing and listening.
In his critique of EVP, Jo Banks uses the theories of EH Gombrich. Ernst Gombrich was an art historian who would go on to write a seminal book on art theory called Art and Illusion: in it he argues that the process of creating art works on a process of trial and error, a feedback loop that affects the artist’s style, and the disparity between what the artist actually paints and what they are trying to paint. But before he wrote it he worked for the BBC Monitoring Service at Evesham monitoring the air waves for intelligence during the Second World War. He had escaped Nazi Germany in 1936 and was in a good position to work here. The work involved listening for the voices of enemy broadcasts amongst the static of radio. From his art theory he was very aware of the problems of projecting onto objects, and so he wrote a memo for the other staff with regards how to distinguish between fact and projected fiction. Would such techniques be useful in unravelling the experience of voice hearing?
The field recordist Jez Riley French, records quiet sounds. He records quiet sounds in the field to play back as music and sound art. For him there is an active element to listening. Quiet sounds he says “The idea of ‘quiet’ in nature is a good example – in reality even the most still places are sonic chaos, often in frequency ranges not available to our naked ears. For myself I find listening with devices that allow us to hear those sounds actually heightens one’s ability to hear stillness when listening without them.” For Rufus May, the idea of dialogue with the voices goes hand in hand with mindfulness, letting the mind still. Without this still mind, it is harder to listen to the constructs.
Would such techniques be useful in voice hearing?

What if we combined them?

Order of sounds Bonnet – Beyond Sound chapter

Mladen dolar on Freud’s voices – Lalangue

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace