Towards a Discourse Strategy
An anecdotal remedy to psychiatric brainwashing is to turn
the Oedipal construct on its head and reparent to the Persian
myth of Sohrab and Rostam. The mind today is held hostage to
Freud's Sphinx, to his obscure Oedipal construct, with its
crystallized denial of patriarchy and class struggle refracting
rather than reflecting the social matrix of the subject. You
must oppose this conventional madness with your own madness, you
must brace your mind to the maturity and poetry to handle its
tempests and vagaries. The patchwork experience of decalage, a
Swiss cheese of the mind, obliges people not to the cowardice of
an infinite regress of avoidance but to the courage of an active
effort of socially grounded mental reconfiguration.
The problem of Oedipus (and the problem of Rostam) is the
utter humiliation suffered upon learning of slaying a beloved
family member. The problem of the less developed societies of
the Third World and the national minorities of the developed
societies is that their pridefulness is refracted, in reverse, as
madness to those who reckon Oedipally. The condition of the
humiliated is so wretched that revolt against it will surpass all
expectation and all reasonable calculation. The recent U.S. war
with Iraq vibrates with the tensions of a Third World society
swamped by the consequences of leaders vaingloriously, foolishly
challenging U.S. humiliation, only to provoke its reinforcement.
The human organism is mad in the sense that the mind is not a
realization of the ideal of an information processing system
arranged to compute outputs based on inputs. The mind has the
complex character of a system networked with modularizations and
multiply functioning elements whose efficacy degrades only
gradually with injury. The reductive assumptions of dynamic
psychology, isolated from the social matrix, have the impact of
describing the operation of a subsystem of the mind, of a
diminished, clamped down version of the complete mental system.
A positivist expectation of logical-style non-madness drives
people to confine the fullness of their beings to a dull routine,
to exhibit a syndrome of reduced awareness.
The social definition of madness and the patterns of response
to it are specific to historical conditions, not universal like
cholera or cancer. Medieval approaches like Geel and Renaissance
approaches like the Ship of Fools are now supplanted in this
society by the manipulation/control clinical model. In lieu of
enforcing the maximum disconnect between people in expectation of
rationalizing the polity, why not rather dance in time with the
social dynamics? True mental dysfunction in this era is in
constricted awareness, in denial of social justice, in sectarian,
self-righteous egotism, in avoidance of responsibility.
Intentionality and Abuse
The old ground of Western reality is "I think, therefore I
am" -- the immanent sense of self as participant in business.
The modern philosophical version of this is in positivist
phenomenology, the idea of intentionality thought of as the
rational-affective cognitive mediation of subject and object.
The recognition of the non-groundedness of the subject pushes
philosophy back upon issues of the way being happens in the
world, upon existentialism. The recognition of the wholesomeness
of a certain madness raises questions about the terrorizing,
mindless rationalism of today's psychology, caught in the act of
replacing criticism with sophistry, in the name of reason.
In this mad world the problem arises of the social impact of
individuals and groups having their madness impinge upon others.
The anarchy of madnesses produces a situation where everybody
cries her cause, few people listen to others, and what occurs is
a medley of sectarianisms. The intentionalities of the involved
are invested in the self-righteousness of well-rationalized
justification which ultimately exhibits or conceals a logic of
the victim or against the victim. The passion for and mentality
of victimization reduces communication to exchanges of
bitterness or vacancy of affect; it is needful to disconnect from
these egotisms in favor of dialogue and moral engagement.
The peculiarity of being abused is that either repressing it
or expressing it is more likely to amplify the incidence of abuse
than to diminish it. The resulting paralysis of the abused in
overcoming abuse serves as a moral stance by the person, who,
troubled by the liability to destructive behavior, may prefer to
do nothing. The socialization method of anti-abuse pioneered as
the 12-step method provides a point of engagement with the
negativities which surface in the struggle against abuse.
However, there remains the task of getting beyond the ideological
confusion of the 12-step perspective to build social institutions
for the empowerment of a general attack on the roots of abuse.
A canned answer to the abuse problem is liable to lead you
into the irresponsible expression of madness that is your own
intentionality, to the expression of your intentionality in the
form of abuse. The problematic of totalizing is the
contradiction between your need to extend your perspective and
generalize your understanding with a proselytizing or controlling
approach that accompanies that need. As a general rule, the
rationalist commitment to the philosophy of intentionality is
inclined to, perhaps even fated to, the excesses of totalizing.
To prevent a moral degeneration, akin to the kind exemplified by
Stalin, you must engage and analyze the slightly mad discourses
of others and work out unities in values.
Democracy and Discourse
The blotchy picture of uneven individual development, where
protruding subsystems of semantics and understanding encounter
people in slightly mad ways, represents a kind of Tower of Babel.
There has to be a lot of work on process if common elements of
idea and purpose are to be identified and the appropriate
recentering is to be performed. Foucault has created a technique
of discourse analysis, a discipline which describes the form and
pattern, the archaeology as it were, of the development of ideas.
The deconstruction of conventional systems of ideas and bodies of
opinions, in favor of newly sifted regularities of context, could
engage blind-sided people with new textures of truth, with more
felicitous patterns for madness and vision.
Those whose usual discourse is fractured in an absolute way
are the mental patients, the people whose reality has been
forcibly put down by society, whose very being has been abused.
The rebellion of those who have nothing to lose but their mental
chains is tremendously hopeful and stimulates a mass pressure to
attend to and rework prevailing discourses. The struggle for the
democratic rights of the mental patients is a struggle for a new,
non-totalizing, self-consciously mad realization of social
relations. The dignity of beings who have been thus afflicted by
society not only deserves respect, but also challenges the matrix
of fixed ideas and boring habits which impedes all innovation.
The social conflicts of the present trace back to choices
made in the past, so that sifting out usages of language can be
done precisely by studying those choices. Restructuring society
is not just the business of the establishment for new profits,
but, also, in a different way, the task of progressives seeking
new extensions of social justice. The analysis of discourse as
derived from a critique of the actual choices made in history
has, e.g., turned segregation into arguments over sociology; it
validates possibilities formerly considered mad. People's
habitual social rigidity camouflages dysfunctional behavior of
the elite, in a reflection of the incompleteness of democracy.
The October revolution against Czarist absolutism brought
with it a great upsurge in voices for truth and, at the same
time, a reductive concept of social being. Western democracy was
not sufficiently respected by revolutionaries, who did not
recognize the madness of their being, whose work eventually
degraded to the level of the Gulag. The arena of democracy is
designed for the full expression of the rich but it is vulnerable
to the madness of the masses, if that is properly articulated.
The present authoritarian psychiatric system, that denies abuse,
or avoids its social implications, must be replaced by a
democratic system for overseeing the social intervention process.
Transform Therapy by Politics
Coincident with the twentieth century pre-eminence of the
clinical approach to mental health is the perspective of value
neutrality in conventional social science. A social psychology
based on envisioning an antiseptic world of social objects
disconnected from their observers lacks veridicality, is, in
fact, a moral imposition on society. To deny the moral
involvement of social science with human reality is to intrude
upon the moral activity of the subject. The moral position of
the subject relative to the scientific activity, in general, the
central and universal quality of moral discourse, demands the
attention of a discipline of interpersonal moral psychology based
on actual moral behaviors.
Psychology as an individual treatment regime is limited by
its social non-intervention and by its moral error, its
structural tendency to reinforce abuse processes. Psychology as
an educational curriculum, psychological literacy, raises the
level of moral discourse and constitutes a fitting and proper
format for developing the human potential. Education in
psychology can train people to see through and resist the
machinations of unprincipled therapists as well as the social
conditioning schemes of the ruling elite. Combating capitalist
social relations requires both psychological literacy campaigns
for the public and specialized training in the psychology of
social intervention around abuse for practitioners.
By identifying and reflecting on the stabilities and
bifurcations of social psychological dynamics, it is possible to
describe the social change process. This leads to a variant
account of the class struggle in a frame devoid of
intentionality, describing the nature of the contention for
hegemony, with the forces of repression pitted against the forces
of progress. The assault on the positions of reaction and
repression will come not as a jihad of abuse but as an attrition
of social support networks. And the transformation process
itself may be analyzed by the precepts of military science,
adopting, by metaphor, the strategy and tactics of people's war.
So, finally, the therapist has no ego boundary, is
structurally linked to abuse, is an unwitting agent of capitalist
social relations, is disguised in a tangle of semantics. To
confute the clinical paradigm, the choice with integrity is to
jack up therapists based on their way of being stuck, a tactic of
blending. To achieve centering in social intervention, the
proper choice is to network an organized, political process that
challenges abuse, implementing a strategy of discourse analysis.
Replace the phony ego of quasi-principled self-righteousness with
the productive activity of a principled struggle against abuse.