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Troubled being and being troubled : subjectivity in the light of problems of the mind Ingram, Richard Andrew

Abstract

Michel Foucault's archaeology of the silence of madness in the age of reason circumvents the discipline of psychiatry by refusing to contest the latter on its own terms. The success of Foucault's project of giving voice to the mad is achieved, however, at the expense of neglecting a long history of resistance to the silencing of madness, to which autobiographical writings by people said to be mad have contributed. The first phase of my dissertation focuses on mind-problem memoirs published since the late 1960s, a period in which an international psychiatric survivor movement has emerged. My readings of these memoirs examine how they elaborate ways of negotiating encounters with psychiatry in everyday life, and how they reveal the contingency of naturalized psychiatric practices. The second phase begins with the identification of certain questions that are not prominent among the concerns of political activists struggling to displace the psychiatric system. In the course of articulating a critique of narrative, I introduce the phrase "order of making sense" to describe a moral injunction—to respond and contribute to narrative reason—that acts as a regulative ideal. The third phase consists of fragmentary writing about personal experiences that, in spite of being framed by competing theoretical perspectives, destabilize boundaries. My increasing emphasis on the body, understood as a multiplicity of forces that are not amenable to the formation of coherent subjectivity, opens up the possibility of a revaluation of non-knowledge and the absence of work. The fourth phase concludes a dissertation whose unanticipated discontinuities are both caused by, and a mode of expression of, persistent mind problems. With the delineation of a post-Nietzschean aesthetic of the materialist sublime, the political strategies of psychiatric survivors, including my critique of narrative, are surpassed by the intensities of unproductive expenditure. Until mind problems are no longer pathologized as troubled being that stands in need of direction, the project of overcoming the condition of internal exile remains imperative. Yet it is the anti-project of exceeding sense—through an affirmation of being troubled by eternal recurrence—that most exposes the limits of the age of reason.

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