Madness as rationality incarnate

"The insights of 'depth' psychology were impossible earlier for the same reasons that the fully 'round' character of the nineteenth-century novel was not possible before its time. In both cases, the textual organization of consciousness was required."
       - Ong, Orality and literacy

Madness and the ontology of reason

How refractory we understand a madness situation to be relates to how we understand the effect of rationality when involved in redeeming it. Reason, when failing to control may provoke reactive irrationality, or again the crudeness of rational system may leave the madness essentially unavailable to reason. 12 With knowing proceeding from involvement rather than analysis, however, the criterial issues convert to how burdensome, tricky, or disturbing the situation is. Thus, when you are a prisoner you have to worry about the physical confinement, not just correct understanding in the abstract, but still finally the dungeon and torture situation was made by people. 13

The strength of a madness redemption effort grows out of the involvement process we invest in making it come off. The ambiguity of two-sided common sense derived topics - fraught with attitudes based on responses to inappropriate control events - challenges us to arrive at good understanding and good judgment. On the other hand, 'joint action' in the context of a madness situation, as in Vico's metaphor of Jove's thunderbolt, creates the possibility of a new direction leading away from the operant situation. Invention, invoking 'joint action', evolves to full-flown discourse, as it were, 'providentially' derives the new metaphor, for another 'line of reasoning'.

Advocacy, expressing the reasoning thus derived, is produced in the context of pre-set attitudes, to which it may or may not be sensitive, or relevant. Descartes sees reason in a proposition which we "present so clearly and so distinctly to the spirit that there can be no opportunity to put it in doubt." In fact our 'social conscience' or appropriate linkage to situated topics is limited by our 'sense-making procedures', is never so pure as that ideal proposition. The appropriateness of our advocacy is based, not on clarity, but on the ways we monitor and relate to the madness that is tangled every which way in connections with common sense.

Polity, the intersection of advocacy and society, frames a distorted, uncertain, 'mad', tension where discourse is created and situated. Likewise, the way our reasoning involves itself with tradition, in what Shotter calls 'traditions of argumentation', is no kind of expression of 'pure reason', rather, it develops in this fluid space of tensions. Given that a remedy to a madness situation calls for rationality in the form of advocacy, our issue is to understand the how to identify, how to design such a 'tool'. The tractability of the polity to all kinds of effects, from pragmatic effects to the role of the Vichian 'ricorso', defines the merit of such discourse, the authenticity of its challenge to the limitations of ignorance, to the disconnect of madness.

The delusory role of rationality

The symbol of the poet Ezra Pound being locked up for "'mental illness'" in lieu of being tried for treason illumines the rationality of the madness control system. Our Enlightenment-informed system of reason serves as a double standard - not only as advocacy for traditional values, but as cover for their contradictoriness. The ironic defense of free thought as a balance of brutalities serves to reduce people's grasp on reality as it poisons the inventions of their madness. Where the freedom of mind-scramble merges with the disconnect of madness, wide-scale irrationality threatens social dysfunction and calls for a dispelling of rationality's reduction of perspective.

As there is no certainty as to the adequacy of our involvements with irrationality, we have a 'right living' problem for what we metaphorically call our 'mental state'. In so doing, we advocate social values, we involve with the polyphony of them and navigate the 'vibrations' thus produced, and we invoke what we can of the nuances of common sense. In order for our conversations to challenge the methods of rationally managing madness when we are involved with, when we are in dialogue with their rootedness. Ultimately, we have to be willing to 'hear voices', to hear the voices from those common sense topics, from the dialogic (Bakhtin) that pervades the margins of our rationality.

The somatic aspect of our mental involvement is well remarked, be it the muscle tension theory of 'resistances' or the neurotransmitter theory of mental tempering. But even when the effects become quite familiar, the biological situation is incidental to the human question of how the person is involved with the biology. Heavily biologized explanations for madness are a variant of rational system, and their impact is in the first place social and reflective of the social role of rationality, one that is defensive of 'traditional values'. Thus a primary social impact of biological rationality is to reinforce the traditional system of madness control by punishment, inspiring delusion and helping to reify the 'medical model'.

A helping process of professionals operating on the rational premises of 'mental illness' is an organized system of delusory behavior, perpetrating irrationality. For the rituals spawned by this tradition support what amounts to a cover story for disorganized involvement with irrationality, for irresponsibility. People get entrapped in the mentality of this rationality and lose touch with the 'uncertain task of being members of the community' and thus with their ways of being. So, finally, those who start with 'reason' and act within the rubric of the dominant tradition end up stunned, again in contact with the irrationality they had thought to put away.

Madness guidelines for reason

The alternative possibility to the practicum of 'mental illness' is the experience of involvement in madness situations, in 'rational-invisibility'. Under the intensity of such experience, the mind goes to a core place, of extreme vulnerability, where major disconnect can happen. Focused at the 'mind torture point', the knowing process becomes radically dysfunctional, so there develops an availability to 'brainwashing'. Personality's rational presentation thus becomes hesitant, the excessive subjectivity challenges the mind's capacity to cope, and the survival demand becomes 'mental tempering'.

Having opted for, having dared involvement with the madness realm, we have to learn to transcend the medical politics governing mind, 'regress' into irrationality, and dance into connection. We must eschew the 'counterfeit constructions' reflective of narrative entrapment and get into the psychology of experiencing florid madness. Dandy explanations like that of infantile sexuality, whether by way of conventional analytic rationality or 'new age' provenance, are themselves but florid expressions of narrow involvement parameters. They succeed, when they do, like others - only to the extent of our cognitive 'fusion', when they emerge from a 'clearing' of social process, where 'ego' dies and self merges with its social origin.

Actual social connection, actual involvement extends beyond the domain of polity, is in the 'commodius vicus of recirculation' of language, the reliving of the Jovian thunderbolt experience. A program like Joyce's 'reconstructing the nocturnal life' cultivates irrationality through linkage with the irrationality of rootedness in tradition. Encounter with the 'mind torture point' is properly tempered not by the brainwash-violence of Cartesian doubt, but by that 'topic-fusion' derived from the 'regression' experience. Invention can hold reason in organic relation to madness by relying on the rooting of knowledge that derives from authentic moral relation to irrationality.

We socially construct intractable madness situations - such as 'schizophrenia', 'bipolar disorder', 'depression' - as rationalities with a panoply of associated 'clinical support' behaviors. An involvement approach will need to temper us intentionally to connect with the dynamics of disorders of mood and thought, tasking us with developing dialogue with the survivors of the mental health system. The recipe for this sort of madness advocacy - almost, in the spirit of the 'positive polity' of Comte - is to invent a 'madness', to 'regress' by making a 'road map' of the rationality of social being, through the tangle of the topics of tradition to a line of reasoning. Creating rationalities is more than logic, more than embellishing positive assertions by making them appealing, it's in developing the logic of the imaginary topics of social process, used familiarly, and used madly, as if they were real.

Poetic expression

When we madly interact with 'social structure', conceived of as 'reality', we go out of the 'parlor' level of conversation and into the active use of language for empowerment. Taking the rhetoric of 'social structure' seriously 'ominously' challenges the boundaries of polity and mandates a reinterpretation of the topics of tradition. The responsibility we thus provoke is to 'right involvement' with the madness and the brainwashing outcomes that ensue, but is ponderous due to the possible clumsy or opaque impact of its effects. Given the intensity or grossness of such violent or burdensome effects, Wittgenstein's 'perspicuous representations' reflecting the discipline of involvement 14 are what is available to map a way through.

When we madly envision 'social structure' as reality, we habituate ourselves to regimes characterized by excesses of sect, business, and polity described above. The primitive response to the 'reality' of 'social structure' is to create new enterprises, in effect new institutions with new economies based on the new habits. These constitute excesses, with craziness of structure, leaving us flopping around without an appropriate ground for involvement which we might 'call our own'. This 'acrobatic demand' challenges the rootedness of traditional involvements, challenges the 'habits of imagination', and provides the opportunity and necessity for bringing forth new metaphors.

When we employ 'social structure' as though it were reality rather than idealization, we 'disconnect' from the rooting of common sense in tradition. On the occasion that this situation gets interpreted as 'madly' dysfunctional, we would seek to help out by a studied involvement process, as above, a process that ministers to the disconnect. The instrumentality of connection is in the social networking of the likes of poets who derive the needful metaphors and of rhetors who express them. The institutions of rationality likewise begin where their 'advertisers' ground them in appropriate metaphor, where people learn and teach the healing dynamics to help others 'consume' them.

When we set our minds to the framework of 'social structure' thinking, we 'madly' carry our traditions of argumentation and drape them on new ideals of rationality. For 'those who must wait for succeeding kings' the violence can be too great, the institutions too rigid, but the involved rationality can nonetheless expose less noted irrationalities. Rational 'tools', reflecting social knowledge arising from tradition, reflecting history, are appropriate for transcending the obstructions of ossified control and habituated irrationality, for seeing past the 'medical model'. The hope is for a new tradition of knowing - for the inspiration to go into the madness, to touch the originary topics of tradition, to express madly the poetry of the new rationality, and to re-connect.

Selected References