What do you know?

Filed under:Random notes — posted by Schizostroller on July 12, 2019 @ 3:43 pm

Someone said to me “If you know so much about mental health, how come you are still living at the state’s expense”

I tried saying, just because you are a cancer specialist doesn’t mean you won’t get cancer.

But that was ‘too biological’ an analogy

I tried explaining that ironically what i know explains more about how come not just me, but a lot of people are not just still at the state’s expense, but need to be, rather than any magical voluntarist self-help cure.

But it wasn’t enterpreneurial, hard work of personal recovery enough a ‘story’ for him.

So i said ‘it’s like in business… it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’

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The traumatic power struggle withing mental health

Filed under:Random notes — posted by Schizostroller on June 25, 2019 @ 6:24 am

An article I contributed to for the Morning Star


“ONE of the most vitriolic power struggles between professional groups is happening now and goes to the very essence of what is, or is not, mental illness.

Squaring off against each other are those who believe in a biomedical or genetic basis to mental illness (in the main, psychiatrists) and those who believe mental illness is a natural response to a threat or trauma (mainly psychologists).

At the root of it, is the battle between professions for legitimacy. Who should be controlling the narrative and who should be informing policy? Yet forgotten are the service users who are most affected by such policy arguments at this level.

The result is a confused message about mental health. For all the campaigns to reduce stigma for those with a mental illness, there is a significant crowd of voices rubbishing the very idea of mental illness, whether it is biological or from trauma

continue reading: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/traumatic-power-struggle-within-mental-health


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Kerplunk assemblages and unrecovery

Filed under:Random notes — posted by Schizostroller on June 21, 2019 @ 7:47 am

Some unrecovery analogy imagery:

We have all played Kerplunk I hope. But as a recap there is a tube with holes, sticks are crisscrossed holding up some balls, and the trick is to remove the sticks without all the balls falling.

Our mental health is like a game of Kerplunk, and our issues are a combination of the balls and sticks. ‘Recovery’ is the ability to remove the sticks without the balls falling. As a slight adaptation to this analogy some of the balls can be removed by moving sticks, and ‘life’ adds balls all the time. The sticks are ‘safety’ adaptations that stop all the balls falling at once.

This game of Kerplunk is mostly played by us alone (in our own minds), so in this analogy the game is played in a room on your own. But we can always hear people telling us which sticks we ‘should’ remove, whilst we are sitting there looking at the problem, even though these people are not in the room with us. Government policy also demands we remove sticks, and moreover can add balls (as can other aspects of life), as well as remove sticks if we don’t keep an eye on them.

Unrecovery practices are an ad hoc practice, that is a temporary solution to keep control of our own Kerplunk game, knowing that a wrong move can send all the balls falling. ‘Bad’ recovery is procrustean and insists on this or that stick must be removed, and then blames you when the balls fall. ‘Good’ Recovery, and other therapeutic practices, listens to your knowledge of what you can see of the game, and merely supports you with your autonomy whilst you play the game. This latter ideal however from our observation seems to be at odds with current government policy and market/ capitalist needs, as it doesn’t meet the outcomes measures of outside forces.

For those who don’t know the term, that I have added some changes to the games with sticks and balls being added and removed whilst you play, like a Heath Robinson machine, is what is called an assemblage. Unrecovery is an ad hoc practice with which to deal with such an assemblage.

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‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part twenty-six)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on June 18, 2019 @ 12:21 pm

Blackman then turns her critical gaze to the relation of the psychological to the social. She points out that “psychology, like psychiatry, is not a unified discipline, and it’s made up of a range of disparate therapies, concepts, explanatory structures and techniques and understandings. Many different theories within psychology have been deployed in order to understand the problem of hallucination. Many of them have similarities with psychiatric understandings, attempting to locate the exact psychological, rather than strictly neurological mechanisms, which are seen to underpin the hallucinatory experience. Again, like psychiatry, only some concepts have the status of science-ready-made, and there is much dissent and controversy surrounding many of the theories offered to explain the nature of hallucination.” (p.43-44). It is worth looking at the British Psychological Society’s Power Threat Meaning Framework for an overview of both psychiatric and psychological theories of mental distress. According to Blackman, though, within the conceptual framework of psychology, hallucinations are viewed as a disorder of consciousness. These theories are called ‘seepage’ theories, that is they frame hallucinations as some kind of ‘seepage’ into consciousness of mental activity that would normally be preconscious. “Therefore, the problem of hallucination is construed within the terms of consciousness and its preconscious workings… within this framework hallucinations are experiences related to dreams, originating in the preconscious imaginary realm of the mind. When the rational mind is relaxed then these subterranean forces are brought into play… the difference between hallucinations and dreams within this framework is that the state of consciousness, which occurs during the dreamstate, is considered a normal function of sleep… however, the neuro-physiological mechanism underpinning hallucination is considered deficient, whereas during sleep the mechanism is merely relaxed.” (p.44-45).
Other theories base themselves on hyper-arousal, so whilst it is considered within the bounds of normality, a pseudo-hallucination to hear voices in hostage situations, “these theories suggest that schizophrenia is akin to a state of hyper-arousal, which deleteriously affects cognitive information-processing capacities. The state of hyper-arousal is used to explain attentional deficits, which lead the ‘schizophrenic’ to inadequately screen and process input from the external environment. It is this state which leads to the focus of the internal as opposed to the external, where a person misattributes and confuses the location of the stimuli.” (p.45-46).
Another framework is that of hallucinations as a continuum of ‘normal’ mental imagery. “’Normal’ mental imagery has been defined as a non-veridical experience involving the sensory or perceptual organs” (p.48). Blackman suggests this structure consists of two concepts, the first views hallucinations as extremely vivid mental imagery. So hallucinations are in some respects similar to normal forms of mental imagery such as ‘daydreaming, hypnosis, dreams’ etc., they are also paradoxically quantitatively different. “In other words, although hallucinations are viewed as proximate to other forms of imagery they are also, by definition, the negation of ‘normal’ mental imagery.” (p.48). However, Blackman points out that within this continuum theory, with regards the second concept “the ‘problem of hallucination’ is delimited further by incorporating and redeploying one of the main modes of psychiatric explanation, ‘a belief in the reality of the experience’.” (p.49). Thus “the empirical problem is individualised, and the two concepts conflated through attempting to classify and measure ‘reality testing’ (the ability to judge between real and imaginary events) and the ‘quality of mental imagery’.” (p.49). Blackman goes on to quote Rose saying “’they (psychologists) domesticate and discipline subjectivity, transforming the intangible, changeable, apparently free-willed conduct of people into manipulable, coded, materialised, mathematised, two-dimensional traces which may be utilised in any procedure of calculation’… The paradox is that nowhere in the literature are the norms of ‘normal’ mental functioning defined. Mental imagery is presumed to be a mental picture of the world as produced internally, thus not dependent upon actual representations of external events. However, the laws governing normal mental imagery functioning are not explained. The ‘norm’ of mental imagery is a lack of hallucination. Thus ‘abnormal’ mental imagery is a negation of ‘normal’ mental imagery, which in turn defines and classifies the limits of ‘normal’ mental imagery.” (p.50). In contrasting Hilgard’s 1965 definition of altered states of consciousness to the psychiatric definition of hallucination, both ‘focus upon the involvement of imagery or fantasy production whilst ‘awake’, or at least in a certain state of consciousness. However, hallucinations are differentiated from ‘normal’ mental imagery by invoking the notion of ‘self-conscious’ awareness. However, this criterion or mode of explanation does not suffice to delimit the definition of altered states of consciousness from the psychiatric definition of hallucination. In both definitions the subject loses volition, the willingness to act independently and attention becomes redistributed or refocused. Therefore, what is the conceptual difference between hallucinations and an altered state of consciousness such as hypnosis?” (p.50). It is here that Blackman questions the role of vividness in the distinction, not just ‘self-awareness’. As if vividness of imagery is present in both hallucination and hypnosis, then “the fundamental difference or division is that hallucinations are viewed as inherently pathological and hypnosis is not. Hypnosis is viewed as a transitory state or role, whereas hallucinations are a symptom or index of pathology, and become an integral part of the identity of the person. Thus, in order to understand why hallucinations are constituted within this framework as a continuum of ‘normal’ mental imagery, one needs to understand the antecedent for this statement to exist. Neisser has highlighted that there is no a priori reason for believing that imagery vividness is an underlying condition for a hallucinatory experience to occur – the paradox being that ‘normal’ mental imagery is defined by what is abnormal, i.e. hallucinations. Thus, although psychology aims to extend its knowledge of normal mental functioning to deal with what is constituted as individual and social pathology, the questions are posed in terms of deviation from certain norms. As Rose suggests, in relation to this argument, ‘individual psychology would seem to diagnose social pathology in terns of deviation from statistical norms. Its conception of normal and abnormal mental functioning would be constructed from the point of view of a theory of populations, averages and correlations, not from a conception of the psyche itself.’.” (p.51).  
Continuing Blackman’s argument with regards the alignment of concepts in psychology and psychiatry she states “they focus less on the brain and more on those cognitive capacities which are viewed as existing within the mind. They are attempts to locate the psychological, as opposed to the psychiatric mechanisms, which underpin the hallucinatory experience. They claim to be based upon general theories of mental functioning, which are then extended to understand these so-called deviations from normal functioning. However… it is actually the ways in which deviations, understood as pathology, are articulated, which make possible what we understand normal mental functioning to be.” (p.52). She cites Foucault, “it must not be forgotten that ‘objective’ or ‘positive’ or ‘scientific’ psychology founds its historical origin and its basis in pathological experience. It was an analysis of duplication that made possible a psychology of the personality; an analysis of compulsions and of the unconscious that provided the basis for a psychology of consciousness; an analysis of deficits that led to a psychology of intelligence”. (Blackman, p.52).
Blackman then turns to the social elements of the hallucinatory experience. But we will return to these later. Much of these debates as well as more contemporary one’s are covered by The British Psychology Society’s Power, Threat, Meaning Framework in the literature review that precedes the discussion on practice. I will be covering this Framework later, its relation to some problems of contemporary governance. But for now, I hope that my notes on Lisa Blackman cover some issues in what is considered the ‘problem of hallucination’, and in the next article I will return to some problems of phenomenology and the work of Ver Eecke, before returning to Rocjiewicz Jr and Rockjiewicz’s ‘intentional arc’.



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Maya

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on May 18, 2019 @ 11:54 am

The firmament
Of the lower abdomen
Made public.
The shame!

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On being told to be the better man

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on May 16, 2019 @ 10:08 am

Who gets to judge the better man,
If the better man doesn’t judge?
It won’t be the better man,
Because the better man’s not for judging.

It’s merely an exploitative,
Disciplinary action
From a legitimation crisis
Of those who are for judging.

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‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part twenty-five)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on May 8, 2019 @ 2:46 pm

To investigate problems with the conception of schizophrenia in psychiatry, Blackman talks of the use of what are called Type 2 syndromes in the psychiatric literature. Type 2 in schizophrenia often refers to the negative symptoms observed in schizophrenia. As Blackman points out this distinction is often contested, however she argues it is a “good example of the ways in which psychiatry, despite its heterogeneity, is attempting to provide coherent causal explanations of psychotic experience. Thus the complex constellation of behaviours and thought processes which are problematised within the discursive practice, could be viewed as originating from two distinct disease categories.” (p.25-26). Thus symptoms such as hallucinations are considered indicators of type 1 syndrome. This phase is considered to be acute but responsive to neuroleptics. This is distinguished from a second phase, type 2, which is considered with more chronic with flattened affect and poverty of speech. This phase is thought to be more intractable, with a poor response to neuroleptics and thought to be possibly irreversible and permanent. Blackman continues “within this particular conceptual framework hallucinations appear as temporary markers of pathology which are amenable to ‘cure’, thus offering a trajectory which is used to explain why ‘hearing voices’ appears across the disease classes as a ‘symptom” (p.26). Blackman argues that this conceptual framework imposes a ‘grid’ that orders the symptom of ‘hearing voices’ encountered in practice (but not in theory). What she means by this is that the problems that stem from encountering contradictions in attempting to distinguish between ‘real’ and pseudo-hallucinations can be reorganised within a different rubric providing a theory of disease that takes into account neuro-physiology alongside the context of experience. Again, the categories that were previously used to think through this theory of disease are duration, severity and chronicity (along with insight). Blackman argues that this means psychiatry can no longer be thought of in terms of control, vividness, duration etc. (as do Rosciewicz Jr. and Rosciewicz) that more finely comprehend the complexities of hallucination, even if the medical model still requires that the patho-physiology of the individual be raised as a causal factor.
Thus in this new framework of explanation hearing voices is seen as an indicator of possible psychosis but not necessarily as definitive of schizophrenia, neither the sole diagnosis not the sole marker of a diagnosis. Blackman suggests this is a sign of a shift within psychiatry of the understanding of the phenomenon of hearing voices, but one where psychiatry is still invested in issues of genetics and heredity, but that leaves space for the creation of new perspectives, and from the point of view that I am writing from, new ways for psychiatric survivors to write their own experience into the discursive space opened up.
Blackman points out that there are particular assumptions in the perspective, gaze, which psychiatry turns on the diagnosis of hallucinatory experiences. She argues that what makes a hallucination, outside organic factors or religious experience, is the lack of any other plausible explanation. The symptoms are not to ‘speak of themselves’, instead there is a “conceptual grid used to divide the normal from the pathological within psychiatric discourse, the psychiatric gaze concerns itself with what is ‘absent’ to the immediate gaze of the psychiatrist.” (p.28). “Psychiatric discourse has… produced a taxonomy of natural diseases, of which certain symptoms, such as hearing voices are viewed as first rank signs. The ‘pure’ psychotic states are those where psychotic symptoms are viewed as signs of disease and illness, such as schizophrenia. These are often viewed as degenerative and linked either to structural changes in the brain, or biochemical or neurological deficit or imbalance (the type 2 syndromes).” (p.29). However, on noting this Blackman moves on to another aspect of the psychiatric gaze, the ‘enfeebled personality’. “This is based on a notion that there are certain persons deemed constitutionally lacking in the so-called normal propensities to equip them to deal with the stresses and strains of life.” (p.29). the method by which this enfeebled personality is ‘discovered’ is the psychiatric interview.
Blackman argues that there are two phases of the psychiatric interview; “the first is a description of the present mental state and involves a ‘provisional’ diagnosis. The second phase of history-taking is undertaken to pinpoint any ‘patho-features’ of the person’s biography, which may have made them vulnerable, or in psychiatric terms, ‘at risk’ to a disease process.” (p.30). It is worth noting here that in a sense this is little difference to ‘formulation’ as an alternative to diagnosis that is currently being promoted as a radical new approach to mental poor health and distress. “This ‘social history’ is then used as part of the grid of perception for making sense of the person’s experience. The discursive space opened up to make the distinction between what is deemed normal and what pathological is disparate and heterogeneous. It is a complex assemblage of concepts, which attempt to make it conceptually possible to ‘think’ in terms of disease and pathology. These include the status of the ‘personality’ of the individual, and the context of the experience, which is rendered in relation to the key concepts of source, vividness, control and duration. However, the most general specification, which underpins the dispersal of concepts within psychiatric discourse is the notion of the ‘enfeebled personality’; one who is viewed as unable to maintain particular kinds of relations with themselves and ‘others’. This personality is one whose ‘psychology’ is directly linked to biological inferiority or inadequacy’.” (p.31).
Blackman suggests that there is a split in psychiatric discourse between the natural and the social. “The natural (body) is made intelligible through particular ways of thinking about the body and biology, derived in part from evolutionary theory. Biology is viewed as a static, invariant set of characteristics which predispose persons to particular forms of thought, behaviour and conduct. Biology then sets limits on how a person is able to interact with the social and also the levels to which the social can impact or impinge upon the individual.” (p.31). these assumptions are then overlaid by other dualisms such as “inherited/ environmental, somatic/ psychological, psychotic/ neurotic and even the pseudo-hallucination/ hallucination.” (p.31-32). Blackman reminds us that psychiatry is not simply biologically reductive, but that it combines this ‘hard’ biology with ‘softer’ psychologically oriented science. Psychiatry makes possible its particular way of thinking about ‘hearing voices’ by targeting biology and the social in a way that conceives biology as its originary point. “Biology is opposed to the social, and the social becomes a measure of the individual’s competence in social interactions. Social and psychological life ultimately is explained with reference to biological causes.” (p.32). It is from this position in psychiatry, that I hope to move to the conception of voice hearing in ‘psychology’ before returning to phenomenology of voice haring ,and from thence a return to the dreamwork of Freud as an approach to voicework in hearing voices.

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Wanderlust

Filed under:poetry — posted by Schizostroller on May 7, 2019 @ 10:33 am

Springtime.
Taking a Dionysian stroll
During Rogation.
The air is fecund.
Twice-wyrded
As a bistort.

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An exegesis

Filed under:Brief arguments — posted by Schizostroller on May 1, 2019 @ 7:01 am

I am very aware my writing is ‘loaded’, in some of the prose series I try to get at language and its relation to psychosis, and in my poetry (still improving hopefully) I try to play with language and ‘hidden meaning’.

As it happens a friend asked me to parse some of my writing, so I have copied and pasted my explanation here as a sort of guide.

The orginal pice of writing that I parsed was:

“Is not the problem with ‘just words’ that they can be unjust?

Today, I was enjoying a country walk, listening to the birds and the bees, thinking of the difference between the pleasure of a ‘petit-mort’ and the microaggression of a ‘petite-turie’. “

Here is my exegesis of the meaning behind it:


The first line refers to when people use the discount (a discount is a term i take from Clarke and Dawson’s book Growing up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children, they are ways to subtly demean people by diminishing thir experience), ‘they are just words’ when someone is clearly wounded by what is said. I play, as you are aware on different interpretations of the possible meanings of the semantics, the intention of the phrase is that they are no more than words but in fact having wounded someone they are clearly more than that, thus a discount. I often use the ‘come back’ “Well, if they are just words they are not worth defending”, but people can be dogamtic in their hypocrisy, so it is worth knowing that the phrase can be parsed with an understanding of the word ‘just’ in relation to ‘justice’, and thus we have the above word play… words are not ‘just’ words (neither demeaned as nothing much nor ‘just’ as in ‘ethical’) but in fact ‘unjust’. What’s more in doing so we indicate that in fact words are not ‘just’ words but aspects of the symbolic lodaded with significance that are not merely the authority of one perspective.

Then i play with words to indicate they are not just words, I talk of a country walk (many academic authors play with the idea of the ‘schizo’s stroll’ it sets a scene), but it is in the country and I am listening to the ‘birds and the bees’ this can indicate nature, it also implies voices, but it also implies ‘sex’. It is spring here and nature is currently noisy with fecund activity. However as in the human nature excuse, where human nature is used as a discount for bad behaviour (it’s just human nature) that implies some human nature overrides other human rights ignoring the need for certain norms to guide social behaviour in one sense, whilst at the same time being a norm that polices any defence against such ‘bad behaviour’ (this is before we get to a distinction of the difference between ‘human nature’ and the ‘human condition’ due to mediation and artifice in everyday lived experience. I was in the country but it was farmland, historically where i am farmland that has been farmed for 4,000 years). boys will be boys is used in the same way, as is ‘birds and the bees’. Except ‘birds and the bees’ relates to consumerism in denial of the deferrence of the death instinct – it is a ravenous undead beast), whereas death is also part of the ‘circle of life’ so to speak.

So this leads me to think how the French have less of an issue with this as their phrase for an orgasm (‘petit-mort’) implies death already. Something the phrase ‘birds and the bees’ lacks 9although of course birds and bees do die). I then move to the phrase in my mind ‘petit-tué’ which means ‘little kill’, rather than death, the state of being dead, it relates to the act of killing, and thus microaggressions that can be understood as discounts, which the phrase ‘just words’ can be. Thus we are left with the issue of just killing or unjust killing – murder – or as Schreber called it ‘soul murder’.

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Jumpshadow Disease

Filed under:Random notes — posted by Schizostroller on April 23, 2019 @ 8:04 am

If there is anything it is permitted to do it is to jump up and down on your own shadow in the sun going ‘stupid fucking shadow’.

It may well be pointless but…

To disapprove of it and attempt to stop it is a sure sign of authoritarian tendencies and even more pointless.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace