Emotion and abusive behavior

"... structural study must ascend back to the decision which at once joins and separates reason and madness; it must strive to discover the perpetual exchange, the obscure common root, the originary affrontment which gives meaning to the unity as much as to the opposition of sense and senseless." - Foucault, Madness and civilization

Emotion and 'social accounting'

With involvement in irrationality being unavoidable - only the dynamic being in question - it behooves us to trace the drama, how we comprehend the staging of that involvement. 9 Emotion, meaning "from movement," is to be understood as sensuous experience of the movement of a person's position relative to those around her/him, reflective of its role in the dramatic story line. Affrontment, the touch of the 'abyss', which gives meaning to the involvement of rationality with irrationality, registers as emotion, as the contact with the transitory social roles. By joint action, people involved with irrationality induce formation of social values, of the motifs of engagement that people have with readings of social position.

Having to be able to account for involvement in a variety of sectarian processes, we address not only the 'forensic' ideology issues of sect, but what Billig calls issues of 'general' ideology. In a general ideology mindset, sects function as irrationalities which we can subject to an 'exterior' process of rationality, despite seeming rational within their own narratives. Our rationally derived metaphors of social control will front for internal tensions - tensions which can infiltrate the rationalities of sect, modulate its dilemmas, and render them permeable to topics of general ideology. Not only are we morally obliged to work with sects, but, by this consideration, there is in fact an available and appropriate method for working with them; there is no need to fall back into a regime of avoidance.

At the interface of our involving with a sect, then, is the impression of its collective rationalities as a kind of 'moral insanity' - an epithet for social values that are disconnected from us. Subsequent involvement with the history of joint action of the sect's collectivity tends to provoke storms of irrationality, and thus attendant requirements for procedures to ride out the storms. The liability of such involvement is emotional dysfunction, due to the overwhelming quality of the violence of the engaged irrationality. A preferred adaptation would be a rationality for the inauthenticity of business, for the polity of sect-ridden sociality - call it a system of 'business rationality'.

The way you account your involvement with irrationality tends to get entangled with rational organizing principles, in the topics of business. The rationality of business stretches emotion in its role as connector to the sanctions enforcing the binding customs and practices of the community. Thus jurisprudence will lean on common sense ('two-sided') topics which reflect a polity we can characterize as regulated by 'managed irrationality'. We encounter an environment of rational impossibilities where habit is somatic ideology and 'to take care of business' means to dampen the negativities engendered by the stresses contingent upon the intrusions of rationality.

Mental battery

Since emotion regulates the experiencing of business, people may incline to organize their feelings about behavioral phenomena, as a systematic, rational tool. Doubt, the obverse side of such a (Cartesian) rationality, actively spreads an irrational aura in the service of a gathering abstract 'clarity'. For a combination of a rationality of limited scope and a (possibly untrammeled) companion irrationality, a 'side effect' can be the production of a patterned irrationality, of, in other words, psychological violence based on emotional distortion. Again there is a political problem in that if business does not achieve the ideal of perfect management, then there is an imperative that business be engaged via involvement with its irrationality, sensitively, with authentic emotion.

The illusion of passivity, where the myths that coordinate individual beings are supposed to be objective business, is in seeing this organized, rationalized system of emotions as but a response to 'conditions'. Such a rationality is invisible because we understand behavior as a passive 'stimulus-response' system, rather than grasping the way that words and deeds are actively involved in making reality. What we might refer to metaphorically as a 'clinical mentality' of inappropriate involvement reflected by inappropriate affect can be re-cast or identified as a limited, one-sided method of knowing of only occasional utility (today, re-cast especially as triage). What appeared to be objectivity is a self-involved 'reification' of fluid processes; it is only seen for what it is when recognized as an intentional instrumentality (Vygotsky) flowing out of the rationalizer's business.

As an example of a conceit of a rational management system for emotion, consider the touted 'object relations' variety of psychodynamic theory and its relation to abuse. Traumatic interfaces with the 'mothering object' invest psychological power in idealized categorical entities, reifying the brutalities of history, giving them social extension and constructing a work space for social control. 10 The human being is de-authenticated in favor of the rationality of a model deriving other from parenting, 'knowing from' being reduced to the cognition of rigid patterns, alienating disconnects, and attendant affects. A soul-hardened 'punishment self' reproduces (this version of) the 'medical model' as calluses whose clumsy touch promotes a dynamic of psychological violence or mind abuse.

The price of employing a 'medical model' whose function is to streamline the psychological abuse of people is that of social roles being rationalized by the pain of habituation to abuse. 'If there is no welt, there is no Welt' - or so reason has it when battery modalities predominate and our psychology is reduced to abuse ('seduction') and its fig-leaf variant 'wish-fulfillment'. Yet the proper narrative for humans who feel, as they articulate the active production of social values, should not be disguised by way of such a narrow cast of mind, applied in the service of rationality. The individual whose knowing is by involvement, then, should adopt a responsible relationship to social being, to what Shotter calls 'social accounting' to handle the political economy of 'business rationality'.

Rational blur, visionary activity

What especially needs accounting are the 'blind spots' where rationality has generated abuse and distorted the character of social being as we live it. These spots accumulate irrationalities, in the form of values which sensuously predispose ways in which the parties involved incline to interpret the topics of 'common sense'. Logically speaking, we find reflected in the enthymemes of business talk the 'middle terms' which focus the energies of the 'blind spots' so generated. We get an illusory 'logic' reflecting gaps in moral upbringing - as Vygotsky has it, "each individual has his own moral insanity."

In lieu of a rationality accurately reflecting the business of social being, we have come to a calculus of abstract 'essences', a reduced ideation of process. The 'essences', being forced (metaphorically speaking) 'down the channels of abuse', permeate the experiencing of the physical bodies of beings and things. We acquire a 'somatic ideology' of blooded ideas, which reflect 'business rationality' overlaying a context of disguised irrationalities. The body-derived impression of the 'absolute' quality of our business - as we grasp it - is an obstruction for the kind of understanding that derives from involvement.<

The 'physical reality' of body, as being reduced to illusion, invests mental things with a substantial reality of their own, a kind of secondary 'corporeality'. In consequence, mystical knowing, knowing by 'vision', is not an evanescent will-o'-the-wisp cognitive process, but amounts to a refinement of rhetorical-responsive knowing by involvement, folly, an expression of madness. Intuition, or knowing by studied involvement in irrationality, makes a major tool for 'social accounting' in the context of abuse-derived habit. Somatic confusion may find a way to transform into a somatic transcendence which informs 'business rationality' with a sublime, sensuous knowing that reflects 'unaccountable' irrationalities.

So the forest of complex irrationality engendered by 'business rationality', with social production based on abuse-conditioned 'blind spots', represents a delusory ground for behavior. Business organizes the polity by a rational scheme of 'mental representations' for topics, seen from one side only, while the structure of this arrangement provides for the contrary sides to become 'rationally-invisible'. The cognitivism of 'mental representation', imposed into the rationality of social being - as in, for example, the instrumental rationality theory of Weber - can be replaced by a perspective of visionary activity which provides for expressing the irrational. When we come to see mind as a rhetorical organ, as being emotionally 'regulated', not just in the guise of bureaucratic manager, then our conceptual thinking may properly reflect involvement with irrationality. 11

Rationality and control

A rational process, encountering a loss of control in an inchoate delusory environment, tends to degenerate into maneuvers of desperation. With this, its logic gets more and more disconnected from the originary metaphors describing the target situation, leading to a breakdown dynamic akin to what Vico calls the 'barbarism of reflection'. And at a decision point, we get closer and closer to the 'affrontment' of sense and the senseless directly, closer to a maddening involvement. Emotional sensitivity is stripped, mood suffers, 'social accounting' is less functional, and an imperative arises to engage the danger arising from this, or to face conversation failure.

Meaning, seen as deriving from the instrumental nature of signs, develops 'symbolical' problems when challenged by a maddening situation. And then the question of such meaning is no longer that we made it, nor how we made it, but what we are going to do about it. Symbolic conflict, or symbolism at cross purposes, the proverbial 'cry of fire in a crowded theater', leads not just to general confusion but to dramatic negative outcomes, to dramatic activity based on the irrationality, the abuse dynamics no longer held in check. As no adequate 'map' now exists for such a situation, knowing from being involved with it can only be guided by methods distilling experience, methods of 'law'.

In the Icelandic Saga of the burning of Njal, rationality in the guise of law does not produce a balanced handling of symbolic conflict, rather, its abuse leads to irrationality as the political institutions (the Althing, the law) break down. In general, when advocacy confronts fairness, problems of territoriality, of need for control, of rational consistency conflict with the felt symbols of people's being. Equities that set `boundaries' in reality must also set 'boundaries' symbolically, if there is to be a perceived fairness. And if well-being of the polity calls for a responsibility for fairness, if it is attainable, it will be at the price of some emotional estrangements or diminished 'social accounting'.

Since jurisprudence is the humane discipline of ideation appropriate to conceptual thinking about maddening situations, it must approach rationality from the perspective of its being a 'madness tool'. Advocacy can represent the blind spots of abuse, can possibly mitigate the effects of delusory reasoning, can find its proper topics from common sense. Inappropriate control will produce madness and destruction, or perhaps it will provoke the wisdom of jurisprudence in order to reimpose dynamical stability. Organizational activity may work to create a perceived fairness or 'secondary' rationality that truly is involved with the operant irrationality, though, of course, such result can not be assured.

Madness as rationality incarnate