Saturday, 19 July 2014

A strange holiday.

By a long and slightly mysterious process, I have landed in Italy as part of an intensive workshop taking place in San Giovanni Rotundo. I have told friends and colleagues that I am going to join a cult for a holiday, and may never come home.

Some documents I was sent a few weeks ago might give the flavour - here are some quotes: 

Individuals have stopped having a specific and historical value in their own right; instead, their value is now decided by the financial economy according to its own strategies for accumulating money

 However, I believe the disease-based paradigm may prevent us from adequately interpreting the new forms of suffering whose emergence began in the mid 1950s, alongside the momentous and overwhelming anthropological shift seen in western societies.

Disagio diffuso. This refers to the widespread wave of deep malaise manifested by the ancient codes in response to being “estranged” from the overall governance of life and, as a consequence of which, life has been “estranged” from the two most ancient codes.

The three 'codes' are central to the theory, crudely summarised as: 
·                  Bio-organic - bodily, most ancient, particle
·                  Analogical - emotional, life-force, wave
·                  Symbolic rational - logical, most recent, becoming overwhelming

In a matter of months, an individual may go through the stages of oppositional protest, addiction to psychoactive
substances (legal or illegal, including psychiatric drugs), eating disorders and addictions to electronic and virtual reality; after which, they may move into a period of emotional dysmaturity and end up experiencing one of the many so-called delusional-psychotic syndromes that psychiatry has categorised: borderline and other personality disorders, major depression, bipolar disorder, the various forms of schizophrenia, etc.

Today, medical science has confined itself to using "disease words" to label and catalogue the various stages and symptoms undergone by individuals in the throes of disagio diffuso. In fact, medical epistemology cannot and will not be able to make sense of the continuum of today’s malaise, which requires a profounder and more structured approach than banal classification.

Given the lack of a deep-reaching diagnosis and having settled for the convenient genetic aetiology, medical science and psychiatry merely administer the same psychiatric drugs for all the various forms of malaise, tweaking the doses and prescribing cocktails of psychiatric drugs with increasingly enigmatic formulas, often dictated by current fads. Treatment is generic and non-specific, as are the diagnoses adopted. This has led growing numbers of individuals and groups to turn to alternative treatments and/or other medicines. But we must not underestimate the allure of the chemical lifestyle for the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs:  Digital Man can only be held in check, albeit temporarily, by transforming him into a Chemical Man. In fact, life, today, is to a large extent propped up by what we might call a “chemical-financial anthropology".

Watch this space – more to come…

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