Add new comment

@critic
various psychoanalytic-inspired contributions

The self in alienated society is fundamentally split, the mind is alienated from the body. In the classic version there's a first split (self-preservation ego from desire-based id) then a second (moral superego based on parent, from the ego) and neurosis happens when the parts are too conflicting. Psychosis seems to involve both more and less alienation. People diagnosed bipolar (also schizoid, schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, etc) are usually pre-Oedipal in character-structure, with a desire-structure closer to early childhood and without the strong affect-blocks and binding mechanisms found in neurosis. So in a way, pre-Oedipal types are less alienated and closer to an anarchic state of being. On the other hand, infantile splitting mechanisms are still at work and there's often early traumas involved, so the symptoms can be more intense, and sometimes the dissociation and derealisation dynamics are much stronger than in neurosis. That's what I've picked up from the literature.

Useful on mania and bipolar states: Klein's papers on mania and schizoid mechanisms in childhood, Deleuze and Guattari's body without organs, Freud's Mourning and Melancholy. Useful on psychosis: Lacan, particularly his sinthome book, Lowen's "Betrayal of the Body" and the last chapter of "Language of the Body", Deleuze and Guattari, Laing, Reich's pieces on schizophrenia in Character Analysis. The Kleinian approach seems to fit with what you're describing: a loss of self-control during manic patches followed by an intense sense of guilt and desire to make reparations. In the Kleinian account this corresponds to splitting entities and people into "good and bad object", harming the "bad object" during periods of forceful affect and self-valuation, then realising one has also harmed the "good object" and being afraid various that you're evil, the world is ruined, you're ruined, you'll be destroyed or abandoned (originally the good/bad objects corresponded to parents or parts of their bodies). Depression is a state arising from the sense of having irretrievably lost the good object, usually as a result of your own actions to destroy the bad object; mania is a kind of defence-mechanism which compensates for depression or powerlessness by positing the self as omnipotent or suchlike, and the "lost" object as intact. "Hallucinations" are perceptions of things which are real either in the virtual field (auras etc) or in the inner life, but are misperceived as aspects of the outer world. For example, a harsh persecuting superego is misperceived as a government agency controlling your thoughts, or an area with bad vibes is misperceived as a literal vortex, or bioenergetic flows such as rising kundalini are perceived as if they are external physical forces literally entering and altering the body. These ways of thinking are quite normal for everyone in dreams.

Pre-Oedipal types fit well with the kind of libidinal radicalism found in (say) Situationism, Bey, Deleuze/Guattari. Not so much with the stuff based on will. I've always re-read Stirner in ways which shift will back towards the id. But I often find assumptions of self-control and ego-directed will even in non-leftist, non-idpol strands of anarchism (e.g. the false assumption that people can hold out from snitching under torture indefinitely). I think the psychoanalytic view that the ego is not the master of its own house, the body is ultimately under the control of the id and the ego only has an illusion of control and some secondary checking abilities of limited strength (and no strength at all if the ego is overwhelmed or the other parts are disassociated), is basically valid. This is juxtaposed to the rationalist, behaviourist and cybernetic view(s) of people as basically rational and self-interested nodes in incentive/deterrence structures.

>What is freedom when one loses control and does shameful things or regrettable things? Who or what within me was free during the psychosis?

Possibly the id, or the aggressive drives, or a dissociated/exiled part of the self. The ego and superego are correspondingly "not free", but they are also typically holding the other part in a state of internal unfreedom - hence why it rebels and seizes power, or basically riots in your body from time to time. Shame and guilt are aspects of the superego, non-moral regret (e.g. for harms one had no desire to cause) is an ego function. We can't talk about the entire self being free unless the parts are harmonised and working together. In a free/wild/disalienated person this is the case, but not for most of us today; the point is effectively to build "anarchist" relations (rather than relations of domination) among the different parts of yourself.

Within psychosis, there can also be a part which serves as the "persecutor" or the source of the hallucinations; this is often a superego variant, possibly modelled on a strict or abusive parent/carer (the superego is precisely the internal part which is constantly watching and judging the other parts, shaming them for immoral actions, etc). Again this part takes such a vicious form because it is drastically cut off from the rest of the parts and excluded from normal functioning. Paranoia works by projecting this part onto other people or things, or projecting it in a mixed state with real persecutors. So if for example you attack someone who you think is about to hit you from behind, you're acting in a perfectly rational and anarchic and ethical way in relation to the information you take to be true, but it might also be an unprovoked attack if your unconscious has projected the dissociated superego onto the other person (who in fact poses no threat).

>How does one apologize, excuse oneself, communicate psychosis and regret?

On a general level, I think people can't be held liable/accountable for acts committed when psychotic because the ego-parts which handle responsible agency are literally not functioning at that time (probably the anterior cingulate cortex in neurological terms); it's no different from how blind people can't be expected to see, or cornered animals might bite even if you're trying to help them. Ought implies can. Plus, psychotic actions are often entirely justified IF the delusional beliefs or hallucinated realities are real, i.e. to the best of the person's knowledge; people can't be judged for an incapacity to form viable reality-judgements, any more than from acting on false information. This status of psychosis outside liability has always been recognised historically - whether as "loss of self-control" in ancient texts, "spirit possession" in the Middle Ages and indigenous cultures, or "insanity" in modernity; it is only with neoliberalism that people start pretending it doesn't apply, because behaviourist bullshit has become so entrenched. People nonetheless will often feel guilty whether or not they are blamed by others, this is built into how the superego functions. You may well have internalised a sense of responsibility for things you logically can't be responsible for, even for things you know are impossible (such as causing someone's death by thinking bad thoughts about them). Melancholic/depressive states often involve this kind of enormous guilt, whether or not the person ever did anything bad; the dynamic is a kind of self-flagellation carried out by the superego (which is gaining some kind of sadistic satisfaction) against the ego (which might be getting masochistic satisfaction), often with the ego being identified with some previous love-object (a person, a social movement or cause...) which has been lost. IMO from an anarchist point of view the melancholic dynamic, which tends to produce a sense that the self is evil and the world is irredeemably lacking, is much more politically dangerous than the manic dynamic.

Communicating is a lot more difficult. It helps if the people you're interacting with have some knowledge both of anarchism and of psychology or psychoanalysis. At the moment we don't really have a language to communicate this stuff, we can narrate it from "at the time I felt/thought..." or from an objectivist "in mania such-and-such happens", and this is enough for some people, though it won't necessarily stop you feeling guilty/responsible.

>Are all regrettfully harmful behaviors a result of illness?

I think it's of limited use to see psychological difference, character-structures and neurotic/psychotic symptoms as "illness", because the structure and causality are very different from physical illnesses. Sometimes they're similar to wounds (particularly PTSD) but this metaphor also has its limits. Your symptoms and problems are parts (or effects) or your personality-structure, which is different from other people's.

"Regretful" implies ego-dystonic (i.e. you don't personally value the action or its effect), though ego-syntonic actions can also have regrettable harmful effects because (for instance) someone acts on incomplete information, and I'm also guessing the manic or psychotic acts aren't necessarily ego-dystonic at the time of the act. Ego-dystonic acts always come from parts of the psyche which are alienated from the ego, and in this sense are likely to be felt as "illness". However, acts of this kind can happen in people who seem quite "normal"; see for example Freud's discussion of parapraxes (slips of the tongue, "accidents", etc). A distinction should also be drawn between psychoses, neuroses, "perverse" acts (in the sense of the Lacanian perverse personality-type), impulsive acts, and masochistic or self-sabotaging acts. Psychotic acts are often so mediated by unusual beliefs or perceptions that there is no real relation between motivated action and social or physical effect. Neurotic symptoms are a lot more illness-like in that they're separate from the main personality and ego-dystonic. Impulsive acts are often "freer" than those of neurotics and reflect a relative weakness of the ego relative to the id. Masochistic acts involve a desire of one part of the self to harm another part. Most of the more serious "crimes" come from the perverse character-structure which rests on disavowal (simultaneous acceptance and denial of particular traumatic claims), and are correspondingly strange in structure; they are carried out wilfully (though possibly in dissociated states) but are felt to be compelled by or on the behalf of something seen as an "other" (a Stirnerian spook deemed to have ontological solidity, e.g. History, Destiny, God) and to this extent non-responsible; however, perverts also typically feel responsible in the sense of being guilty and liable, but in a fatalistic way where they could not prevent either the crime or the punishment, and where the punishment is in a sense existentially deserved (and may even be the motive for the crime). At the same time, this guilt may be disavowed, neutralised, rationalised to varying degrees in line with the disavowal structure. Because of the disavowal structure I find it very hard to decide whether acts of this type are deliberate/wilful or are analogous to neurotic/psychotic acts.

I'd add that as an anarchist I want to eliminate punishment, social-scale normativity, opposition to difference, harsh self-judgement, and expectations of strong self-control and strong integration of self; these ethical commitments affect the way I approach deviance and harm, whether or not they are deliberate/liable by my definition. But there's also issues here with contradictions in, or inability to live by, one's self-chosen ethos, which arise from splits and conflicts within the structure of one's desire (due to alienation). My guess at a way out is to think of the Stirnerian ego as an end-point in which the different parts are working together in a kind of cooperative union or Clastrean balance, and one has to find a way to harmonise the parts to arise at the Stirnerian ego. At the same time, however, the Stirnerian ego is in a flow-state and is not an integrated self or ego-driven in the psychoanalytic sense. Deleuze and Guattari value fragmentation of subjectivity and lines of flight, but also talk about untying the knots which produce neuroses. So a free desire would be multiple but also unknotted if that makes sense.

>Is there anything essential about me, since I have a mood disorder and psychosis?

Not sure what you mean by "essential about me". Is there something different about people with bipolar diagnosis or psychosis, yes but it's not well understood what, and it's a "property" of the Unique One and not its essence. Do you have an essential self even though you go through self-states which are drastically different from each other? TBH I'm not sure anyone has an essential self, everyone has parts, yours just differ in being more dissociated and less repressed. The feeling that you don't exist as a continuous or integrated self is quite common in psychosis from what I've heard; I think this particular feeling is related to dissociation from the lower body (the base chakras) and resultant difficulty forming a sense of subjective meaning. It's also arguably a true claim at a quantum level, so take your pick.

>re: doing bad--i've been thinking a lot recently about how hard it must be to live with having hurt someone badly by accident

Thanks Chisel... yeah I'd also say I feel (retrospectively) about actions in altered states and those arising from gaps between motive and effect in much the same way as about accidents (& also, think how bad this must be if you're dyspraxic).

>and yet also how the idea that we don't bump into people harshly is kind of a bizarre, alienated expectation

Yeah, agreed... I think what's often missed is 1) everyone's different, nobody understands others all that well, 2) everyone's got all this unconscious stuff going on and it's invisible... and when these different, mutually semi-ignorant, control-impaired, self-unaware creatures get together, there's gonna be chaos and nuisance and inadvertent harm, same as when nature throws together any other kinds of living creatures (even if we leave aside the fact that a lot of them want to eat each other). Today people handle this by blaming each other and blaming themselves, most often with the more-different blamed for the harms which result from difference, and the more powerful better able to shift blame where they want it. A better approach is to look for ways to try to make differences run as smoothly together as possible, or else to separate along lines of differences and coping thresholds. Most ethical thought starts from some kind of dogma of prior cosmic/moral order, whereas actually, the order is what results if the contingent process of negotiating differences happens successfully.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
t
#
x
N
b
P
1
d
Enter the code without spaces.