Performance, Madness and Psychiatry: Isolated Acts

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Each era approaches madness through its own cultural lens, so that the theatre of a particular period both reflects and consolidates contemporary constructions and aetiologies. These approaches are suggested by two recent book-length studies of madness in the theatre, both written by psychiatrists. The specific difference lies in the fact that the theatre allows an audience member to see madness developing as a result of interpersonal processes, and thereby to place mad behaviour in context 2.

The second, Madness at the Theatre by Femi Oyebode , is a shorter and more straightforwardly historical book. It is striking, therefore, that the disciplines of theatre and performance studies have not yet produced a thoroughgoing study which foregrounds approaches and methodologies specifically suited to the medium. However, there is a steadily increasing body of work in this area. Journal articles by Bartleet , on Sarah Daniels , Fensham , on devising work about madness , Fenwick , on the role of theatre in representing madness , Harpin , on the representation of the asylum , and Kaplan , on language and the use of objects in staging madness speak to the continuing relevance of madness as a topic of interest.

Many of the speakers at this conference have also contributed to a recent book, Performance, Madness and Psychiatry: Isolated Acts Harpin and Foster Building on the insights of Russell Davis and Oyebode about the significance of the theatre as both a cultural response to, and source for, images of madness, it offers a detailed look at contemporary British theatre and performance. By contrast to approaches based in psychiatry, however, I will explore the representation of madness from the point of view of theatre and performance itself.

In particular, I focus on two key elements which connect the histories of theatre and madness: space, and the body. The second section focuses on embodiment, both of performers and audience. It draws on an encounter between continental philosophy and the cognitive turn in theatre and performance studies, in order to give an account of how performers and audiences interact, and to offer an ethical approach to staging madness. By their nature, theatrical productions are conditioned by, and condition, the stage space within which, and the bodies in and between which, they occur.

As a result, an examination of the interactions between stage spaces and embodiment, and their intersections with broader social conceptions of madness, offer important insights into the functioning of both stage representations and social attitudes. The remainder of this introduction will be given over to an account of the methods and contexts which structure and inform this thesis.

This will be followed by an account of the diverse approaches to mental illness which have emerged or been influential during the period under discussion, emphasising the instability of identity common to many of them. Finally, I trace a similar instability in how British theatre has conceptualised itself during this period.

In order to examine this representational nexus in the context of the theatre, I employ both spatial theory and notions of embodiment. In order to facilitate these discussions, the case studies I have chosen are those with a particular focus on these questions. This is not to suggest that other plays could not have yielded similar results, or that the different emphases in other approaches would not be interesting in themselves. Just as space and place have been shown to have an enduring relevance to the history and sociology of madness in the second half of the twentieth century, scholars have drawn attention to the importance of spatial organisation in theatre and performance, especially in relation to structuralist, semiotic and phenomenological approaches to theatre.

Michael Issacharoff and Hanna Scolnicov have both offered taxonomies of theatre space, the latter drawing attention in particular to how changing theatre spaces relate to changing attitudes to women. For an overview of these critiques, see Weinstein In theatre and performance studies, the spatial turn brought the existing work on space into dialogue with critical approaches by theorists including Henri Lefebvre , Edward Soja , and Robert Shields These plays have been chosen because they allow specific focus on key questions about representational shifts over time.

By setting up recognizable spaces and then subverting them, or by refusing a defined space, Kane forces the audience to face the proximity of madness.

sadhguru about mental illnesses, thin line between sanity and insanity

The encounter between these specific theatrical examples and the spatial theories referred to above allows me to focus on a number of key areas. In particular, this first section of the thesis pays close attention to the physical context of representations, and the interplay between representations and space. This in turn suggests the possibility that space can be seen as a representation of madness itself. Embodiment Having foregrounded the importance of space in both theoretical discussions and theatrical representations of madness, this thesis moves on to discuss the role of bodies on stage.

Cross , argues that the conventional portrait of madness is largely inherited from images of madness in the seventeenth century — the last time that madness as an embodied difference was regularly visible in the public square. Since we experience space through the senses, it is clear that embodied experience is key to any interaction with space, and hence to any representation of madness in theatre.

Both implicitly and explicitly, the body has been another key point of analysis in historical and sociological work. The recognition that space can only be experienced by and through bodies means that the body is central to discussions of space. The body has also been important in more orthodox historical approaches to madness. By contrast, there has been a sharper focus on embodiment in theatre and performance studies.

Performance, Madness and Psychiatry

Until recently, the key approach to the role of the body in theatre and performance was drawn from phenomenology. Stanton Garner has expanded on this approach in Bodied Spaces , drawing more attention to the body itself and exploring the interaction between spectator and performer. Cognitive scientists including Antonio Damasio , George Lakoff and Mark Johnson , and Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner have begun to reveal the intimate connections between cognition and the body, asserting that embodied experience is central to our understanding of the world.

These insights have been taken up by theatre and performance scholars including Rhonda Blair , 5 That this focus is more implicit than explicit may be a result of the Cartesian division of body and mind which is seen by writers as disparate as Foucault and the cognitive neuroscientist Antonio Damasio as greatly impeding our understanding of madness. These paradigms are particularly fruitful in approaching contemporary stagings of madness, since they draw attention to the intimate connection between affect and cognition see Damasio , as well as the embodied nature of empathy.

By returning to the same productions already discussed, I draw attention to the fact that the separation between space and embodiment is, at heart, an artificial and analytical one. Again, these performances were chosen for their particularly strong illustrative value of broader trends — while The Fantasist draws on physical theatre and puppetry, Head Hand Head bases its representational strategy on the more overtly politicized form of solo autobiographical performance.

In both these forms the interactions between bodies in space are highlighted and interrogated. Head Hand Head makes much of its own claims to authenticity, and as such seems very different to The Fantasist. However, as I will demonstrate, the contemporary performance aesthetics of which these productions partake both involve an interrogation of representation and authenticity. Clearly, the performances discussed in this second section of the thesis are more recent overall than those addressed in the first section, and this is a result of the shifting trends in performance aesthetics identified by Hans-Thies Lehmann among others.

Performances such as Head Hand Head and Augustine directly interrogate questions of performance and embodiment, and therefore provide ideal ground for addressing different approaches to embodied madness. This does not mean that such questions are absent in earlier plays. In particular, Augustine is valuable as it simultaneously enacts and critiques the psychiatric tendency to locate madness in the body.

By discussing to the role of the body in these particular performances, and in the light of the discussions of space in the first section of the thesis, I am able not simply to discuss the roles of the body and space separately as elements of representation, but rather to explore how they function in combination. As a result, the theoretical approach developed here in dialogue with this specific range of theatrical examples, suggest important ethical considerations in the representation of madness. Mixed methods? In order to explore these interactions between space, the body, and representations of madness, I will draw both on the continental tradition in philosophy, and insights from the cognitive turn in theatre and performance studies.

For McConachie, and for F. McConachie and Hart are here entering a longer-running debate about the status of continental philosophy as an academic discipline. As Critchley goes on to observe, the major distinctions between the two schools of philosophy are largely based on appeal to stereotype.

What interests us here, therefore, is not so much what the distinction might actually be, but how these stereotypes relate to questions of madness and theatricality. Both drama and continental philosophy are here associated with irrationality: for Priest, there is a touch of madness about drama, and a touch of both madness and drama about continental philosophy. This madness, for Quinton, can be excised through the application of Anglo- American rationality, and the scientific method.

Levinas offers a fundamental challenge to the foundations of Western thought which posit the individual Self as the basis of philosophical activity. Rather, it involves assessing the interaction between those elements which can be approached through the cognitive and neurosciences, and the cultural and historical phenomena which have been the preserve of continental philosophy. As a result, the performances discussed in this study will be analysed using approaches drawn both from continental philosophy and from the cognitive turn in theatre and performance studies.

This search for common ground can help to move beyond a simplistic oppositional model in which analytic philosophy is either the Way to Truth or a victim of naive scientism, while continental philosophy is either a comprehensive critique of all hitherto existing thought, or a hopelessly irrational discourse bordering on madness. Ethics and politics While my discussion of the representation of madness in this thesis builds towards a conclusion based on the ethics of performance, it is undeniable that a key valence of these discussions is political — both because they relate directly to legislation, and because they concern the embodied self-determination of individuals within a regulatory context.

The question of labeling, of naming, is central both to the practice of psychiatry and to critiques of it — how are we to identify a condition which strikes at the heart of identity without thereby dehumanising the individual experiencing it? However, the labeling of individuals by medical practitioners is not universally seen as problematic Gove ,6 and not all labeling which occurs is a result of statements by medical practitioners.

This imposes a model of coherent gendered life that demeans the complex ways in which gendered lives are crafted and lived. Although the concept of stigma has been the dominant approach for charity campaigning, this understanding of the issues has been challenged. In focusing on the relationships between bodies in space, this thesis offers both a direct engagement with, and an analytical toolkit through which to approach, these emerging political questions.

Jost distinguishes between mental illness and other disabilities, and argues that: They are not simply different ways of processing information or emotion; they are disorders in the capacities for processing information or emotion. According to this account, stigma itself is a disabling feature of madness. Internet based activism has also yielded approaches which nuance the ideas of the social model. While the social model focuses on external factors, spoon theory draws attention to the compromises entailed by the bio-psychological differences between disabled and non-disabled people.

The differences here come from different experiences of disability: Finkelstein became a wheelchair user after breaking his neck in an accident, while Miserandino has a fluctuating autoimmune disease. Both models are relevant to the experience of madness: stigma and discrimination can cause access issues, as can neurodiverse responses to crowds, noise or darkness; in addition, some conditions and treatments cause symptoms such as lethargy which can physically limit the ability to engage in social activity.

For Cross, simply to address stigmatizing representations of madness fails to engage with the crucial questions of why these representations persist. In addition, both primary and secondary source material was collected relating to the history of mental illness, and various approaches to actor training see chapter 3.

Information relating to individual productions was largely accessed through theatre archives, especially the archives of the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Theatre and Performance Archive of the Victoria and Albert Museum. In the case of some productions, personal interviews were also carried out with performers.

Gjp supplement pridmore madness of psychiatry

Material relating to actor training, and to the history of mental illness, was largely collected through library research. By placing the continuity of consciousness at the heart of identity, Locke implicitly ties madness, not to medicine, but to ontology. In this approach, any disruption in consciousness which constitutes a break with former experiences of self may actually erase that former self. There are two main approaches which can be used to connect Enlightenment notions of madness to those Long identifies in the present day.

Pinel in particular spent a great deal of time with his patients, listening attentively as he recovered their life histories. His was a newly sympathetic attitude toward the insane: he tried to make contact with their remaining vestiges of reason, rationally reconstruct their mental world, and — after a momentary act of identification — lead them back to sanity. The mad patient remains less than human, but the new, liberal-humanist medical approach offers the possibility that humanity identity can be restored to them.

As a result, the question of identity becomes more vexed: What madness gained in precision through its scientific outline, it lost in the vigour of concrete perception; the asylum, where it was to rejoin its truth, was not a place from which [sic] it could be distinguished from that which was not its truth. The more objective it became, the less certain it was. The gesture that set it free in order to investigate it was also the operation that disseminated it However, both these movements relied on a concept of madness which found it hard to distinguish from simulation on the one hand and inhumanity on the other.

This, perhaps, is a result of the theatricality of psychoanalysis itself. However, he maintained his interest in catharsis, describing its function in tragedy in a remarkably similar way to his early formulation of the treatment of neuroses through hypnosis: [T]he question is one of opening up sources of pleasure and enjoyment from within the sphere of life, just as wit and the comic do from within the sphere of the intellect, through the action of which many such sources had been made inaccessible Freud , In my discussion, the continuing importance of performance to psychoanalysis will be explored in more detail in chapter four.

With the development of effective medication, the desire to identify physical, rather than psychological, causes for mental illness returned. This idea of madness as something which can be accurately described, and which is the result of a discrete disease entity, adds another layer to the interactions between madness and identity. The neo- Kraepelinian approach implies a model in which the identity of the disease for example schizophrenia can be defined from the remembered and observed action identity of the patient.

Peter D. It is unsurprising, then, that this renewed shift towards the classification of mental illness, and its associated questions of performance, should be reflected in theatrical representations of madness. The key discursive shift in psychiatry is broadly identified as occurring over the course of the s, culminating in with the publication of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association DSM-III Shorter , 8; Mays and Horwitz With the increased reliance on supposedly objective medical terminology, madness has come to be more closely associated with specific diagnostic terms.

The twin shifts towards psychopharmacology and an increased interest in diagnosis were attended by a continuing conflict over the value of these shifts, and how to accommodate them within medical and legal systems which were themselves fruits of the Enlightenment.

During the s, and partly in response to the increasing use of medication in psychiatric treatment, a disparate group of thinkers began to raise questions about the implications of an uncritical medicalisation of madness. The key authors in this critical tradition include R. Laing and Foucault both have more complex views of the profession, as I will explain shortly, and even Szasz continued to practice as a private therapist despite his own criticism of the idea that mental illness is a clinical entity.

Rather, it is important to pay attention to the actual life of such languages, and to explore how they interact both with earlier icons of madness, with the languages of biomedical psychiatry and, in the context of this thesis, with the conventions and preoccupations of the theatre. However, his criticism of the medical approach comes not from a belief in the inherent coerciveness of psychiatric treatment, but from the dehumanising nature of the psychoanalytically derived theories of mind which dominated the field at the time he wrote The Divided Self.

Broadly, Foucault sees psychiatry as a tool of social control, and a way for society to avoid the more troubling questions raised by the existence of madness.

Method and madness

However, this rather utopian assessment of community care has failed to emerge, for a number of reasons. Lewis and Glennerster , 8 , in assessing the content and impact of the reforms, argue that the changes were in the end motivated by a crisis of funding, and failed to take into account the actual experiences of those using services. It is at this point of crisis that a number of the case studies examined in this thesis take place — Beside Herself, Head Rot Holiday, and Augustine Big Hysteria all emerge from, and in certain ways interrogate, this association between madness and danger.

In addition to debates over community care, culminating in the Mental Health Act which allowed certain patients to be compelled to take psychiatric medication, the s and s saw the introduction of a new class of antidepressants — Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors SSRIs. However, it has never been successfully proved that a lack of serotonin is the cause of depression, and the ease with which SSRIs are prescribed is often cited with alarm in the popular media. The current state of debates around the causes of, and treatments for, mental illness, reflects these debates, and suggests a possible end to the failure of psychiatry as a whole to build on its past noted by Shorter , However, it provides an important lens for thinking about how such representations, which often combine elements from very different ages and understandings of madness, might contribute to the ongoing project of allowing madness to speak.

In this section, I will discuss some possible links between the languages of contingent identity in relation to madness and in relation to theatre, suggesting that madness fits into a larger discourse of health which reflects an ontological concern about theatre itself. Especially in the depiction of madness on stage, what is at stake is the rationality, and social value, of the theatre itself.

This question will be addressed in specific relation to madness in part 2 of this thesis. What remains important, though, is the widespread conception of theatre as a kind of cultural psycho-therapy, a conception which would be taken up and extended by director Peter Brook, in dialogue with the work of perhaps the most famous theatrical madman of the twentieth century, Antonin Artaud. Indeed, the language used by both Osborne and Artaud carries a suggestion of madness, of a disturbance in the processes of thinking and feeling which has somehow prevented culture from being fully alive. Both these conceptions suggest taking the structures of reason to their absurd conclusion, to a form of unreason accessible by passing through reason.

Politics and despair: the s Despite the cathartic claims of Brook and of the New Wave, however, a new period of muscular physicality and psycho-spiritual liberation cannot be said straightforwardly to have emerged by the turn of the s into the s. The spectators may just stare at the spectacle, expecting the actor to do all the work and before a passive gaze he may find that all he can offer is a repetition of rehearsals.

Emphasis added. David Edgar whose plays in this period included a depiction of R. Gethin Price in Comedians eschews cheap laughs gained by exploiting prejudice in favour of a deeply disturbing routine which, in refusing the conventions of comedy, appears very close to madness. Although he sees this as a vindication of socialist ideas dismissed as irrational as fundamentally rational, his logic echoes the idea that rationality is an ideal, and that the theatre somehow needs to be saved from its irrationality in order to have a proper political function.

What is theatre for? Funding in the s This flowering of small companies in the subsidised theatre sector, and the largely Brechtian aesthetics of left-wing theatre groups, was to prove short lived. However, this principle, being broadly social-democratic in basis, stood at odds with the Thatcherite assumption that privately run organisations were inherently more efficient and of higher quality than their taxpayer- funded equivalents.

In her arts minister, Richard Luce, announced that "the only test of our ability to succeed is whether we can attract enough customers. Caryl Churchill addressed the assumption that corporate success and feminism were interchangeable by staging a dialogue between powerful women from history in Top Girls Other plays, however, especially later in the decade, offered a more direct, approach to the politics of the period. Churchill examined the dynamics of police power, in Softcops , and of stock market speculation, in Serious Money Brenton, for his part, worked with David Hare to write Pravda , a play about journalistic corruption in which the South African media baron bears more than a passing resemblance to Rupert Murdoch.

Might it be that the flaws Rebellato identified in basing a left-wing theatrical culture on the reactionary past utopia 12 There is a parallel between the situation of the s and the theatrical climate in which this introduction was written. In yer face? Since this period will be explored throughout this thesis, particularly in chapters 2 and 5, I will for now simply sketch how understandings of the theatre of the s have developed, especially with regard to their political content and its influence on theatrical explorations of madness.

A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed Brook , 11 Madness possesses a double spatiality. In the body, madness is located in the mind, and thus in the head. Conceptually, it is located in medical spaces, whether the asylums of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or the psychiatric hospitals of the twentieth and twenty-first.

The exploration and representation of madness on stage aims at materialising the inner experiences of madness, but attention must be paid to the theatrical spaces within which this materialisation takes place, and how they relate to positive and negative cultural assumptions about madness. Space is thus a key consideration when assessing the representation of madness on stage.

This introduction will provide some background to spatial theories, in addition to the brief overview given above. Looking at approaches both to theatrical space and social space more generally, it will suggest a taxonomy of space specifically in reference to representations of madness on stage. This spatial turn was popularised initially and unsurprisingly within human geography and in relation to postmodernism Soja , marginality Shields , Marxism Harvey and gender Massey, among many others.

The tripartite division of space proposed by Lefebvre in The Production of Space has formed the basis for a number of studies, including a discussion of the process of making a piece of theatre Watkins This triad is roughly analogous to space as it is perceived, conceived, and lived. It is perhaps better to say that, although space has been regularly recognised as central to the theatre, what has been lacking is a period during which space emerged as the subject of concerted and detailed discussion.

Kobialka approaches the historiography of theatre and space by suggesting a parallel between the reconfiguration of space occasioned by the Fourth Lateran Council and evidenced in Corpus Christi processions in the Middle Ages, and that occasioned by the Holocaust and evidenced in the theatre experiments of Tadeusz Kantor. Michael Issacharoff makes some useful distinctions between the kinds of spaces which exist within theatre.

Both mimetic and diegetic spaces are constituted through three related spaces: 1 Theater space i. The taxonomy proposed by Hanna Scolnicov collapses the distinction between stage space and dramatic space proposed by Issacharoff. Carlson, drawing on semiotic theories, explores how the trappings of the individual theatre space both those directly related to the performance and, perhaps more importantly for Carlson, those which are not contribute to the meanings of the performances which take place within them.

This first kind of space has also been treated more recently by Gay McAuley , who takes a semiotic-phenomenological approach to the importance of theatrical architecture, drawn from ethnographic studies of rehearsal rooms, as well as more traditional analyses of performances.

Before moving on to assess specifically psychiatric spaces on stage, it is important to take a spatial approach to the history of psychiatry. Indeed, it continues to apply beyond deinstitutionalisation, at a time when the buildings in which treatment takes place have become less central. However, they relate in important ways to the position of space in cultural conceptions of mental illness. For Lefebvre, therefore, theatre is an exemplary instance of the limitations of dualistic thinking — and the importance of space in articulating these limitations. As we will see, Lefebvre is less confident about the ability to draw such distinctions.

Lefebvre shares this materialist approach. Theatrical space certainly implies a representation of space —scenic space — corresponding to a particular conception of space that of the classical drama, say — or the Elizabethan, or the Italian. The representational space, mediated yet directly experienced, which infuses the work and the moment, is established as such through the dramatic action itself The theatre is therefore one site at which the mental abstract, ideological space of a culture can be examined at the moment of its articulation into the physical.

As Anna Harpin notes in a recent article, while the asylum looms large in cultural memory, its space is changing shape under the weight of popular representations and Hollywood caricatures. Attending to the conceptual spaces of 14 My own approach to material drawn from psychoanalysis shares this sympathetic yet sceptical approach. As will be discussed in chapters 2 and 4 below, psychoanalysis has a questionable relationship with evidence, and with professional ethics. However, it has also had an important influence by suggesting that the experiences of madness deserve to be paid attention to in their own right.

This focus on first person experience gestures towards what could be called a phenomenology of madness. Drawing on these ideas, the following two chapters will explore the role of space in stagings of mental illness in British theatre since The second chapter narrows its historical focus, to concentrate on plays written by women playwrights between the late s and the present day. The audience is placed in the position of Parisians who have come to Charenton to watch the production, and Weiss uses the play to address political questions of liberty, equality, and repression, staging arguments between the libertarian de Sade and the authoritarian Marat.

The past appears in a different light and hence the process whereby the past becomes the present also takes on another aspect , Our discussion of Charenton as a historical space, therefore, as well as providing important context for the reception of asylum spaces in production, will also change shape retrospectively.

My translation. The various courtyards seen in the diagram are each set aside for patients displaying different symptoms. Thus, there is a 17 An issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences, , 3. The building assessed the limits and types of bodily activities that would define a person as mad or sane. Asylum architecture, in its quest to create sanity, became a disciplinary technology: a space for a clinical gaze. Each patient was to have a place and each place was to have its patients , These issues will be taken up in more detail in the second section of this thesis.

The bedrooms all have windows overlooking the courtyard, while windows overlooking the landscaped terraces and gardens line the corridor. Even for patients less able to pay, the institution now offers greater privacy and solitude. Indeed, the windowed corridor mentioned above is part of a deliberate practice.

This development can 22 It should be noted here that, as Lefebvre argues , 27 , the assumption of transparency serves to elide the ideological content of a space. In this case, what is elided is the fact that, although the asylum now offers the illusion of freedom, this illusion is at the expense of freedom itself. The historical Charenton, then, stood at the threshold of the new treatments so proudly proclaimed by the fictional Coulmier and the historical Esquirol. This is an, admittedly cryptic, reference to the origin of the term asylum itself. Esquirol, in his determination to improve the lot of those considered insane, recognised the negative symbolic status of institutions for the containment of mental illness.

The asylum setting is also important for the metatheatrical possibilities it affords. The question of the historical association between femininity and certain forms of madness will be treated more fully in the second chapter of this thesis. Paris on July 13, , the day of Marat's assassination as shown in the Sade play; 2. Charenton on July 13, , the day when the inmates perform Sade's play; 3.

The first-night date in West Germany , or whenever the Herald addresses his comment to the actual theatre audience of any performance of some variant of Weiss's play , We attend a rite […]. The action is hermetically sealed in Charenton, in the early days of Bonapartism, during which the ideas discussed have become for the moment inert. It never reaches the point, exhorted in the Marxist aphorism, of changing it. Constructed of self-contained scenes, the play forms a series of returns. Marat and Sade retread their philosophical debate.

In an attempt to access these approaches to space, in the case of productions I have been unable to see myself, I have drawn on the available archive materials — largely prompt scripts, archive video recordings and production files. As noted in the introduction, archival material provides an approximation at best of the experience of live performance, but it does provide an albeit partial insight into the decision making process. The Royal Shakespeare Company only arose as a permanent fixture around 80 years after the construction of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford. The National Theatre Company was founded before there was a purpose built institution to house it, and was resident at the Old Vic between and the opening of the National Theatre building on the South Bank in As mental illness has emerged from the asylum, the subsidised theatre has put down deeper roots.

It is alongside the emerging counter-culture that the key texts of antipsychiatry were published. It is clear from his plays that Brook was influenced by the emerging currents in counter-culture although, as his biographer Michael Kustow , 60 notes, not directly part of it. In addition, it is also clear that asylums still existed as a conceptually centralised locus of madness in the s. For Laing, psychiatric treatment is not inherently coercive.

However, he does suggest that the psychiatric and psychoanalytic theories current at the time of writing The Divided Self could contribute to the depersonalisation of the individual patient. The value of the asylum space to antipsychiatric discourse is one of these aspects. Following the history of mental illness in reverse, we can see the early s as a turning point in attitudes, fundamental to the directions approaches to treatment have taken since.

However, reviews at the time did not draw much attention to the stage space, other than to note that it was an asylum. Contemporary reviewers writing in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis of understandably focused on how the debate between Marat and Sade echoed the international confrontation between capitalist individualism and Stalinist Communism.

This opposition is emphasised through a number of spatial distinctions between individuals and groups within the stage space. De Sade is a figure of fluidity and self-determination, moving both around the stage and between metatheatrical levels with ease. As a result, for Laing, the project of refiguring psychiatry is partly one of championing the good of the individual over the survival of the collective. Spatially, the audience is figured as the static recipient of the play, a group of individuals rather than a collective.

Throughout the play, the conceptually closed asylum space has been threatened, but never fully breached, by the actions of both Sade and the inmates. At the very end of the play, this sense of discipline and safety both for and from the patients ruptures, forcing the audience into a new and closer relationship with the stage — the theatre, momentarily, becomes the asylum not only through the process of temporal enclosure facilitated by the text itself, but also through the deliberate undermining of dramatic convention.

The Reading Room: A review of 'Performance, Madness and Psychiatry' | Medical Humanities

The audience is forced to recognise the power- imbalance created by their position as spectators, their complicity with the dehumanising psychiatric processes they have observed — if they held comfortable dualistic assumptions about space, madness, and the theatre when they entered, these assumptions cannot stand afterwards. The inclusion of this material serves to place the National Theatre production within the same historical genealogy as these events.

Similarly, the costumes, with their drab whites and shapeless cuts, show a remarkable attention to detail — the production records at the National Theatre archive National Theatre Costume Department preserve the extensive reference materials provided for the costume designers. Despite the clear commitment to historical research and detail, the production is still bound to the present.

Changing conceptions of the asylum alter the spatial practices relating to asylums, and so affect and are affected by any process of research and representation. A potential reason for this is the changing debate over the questions of deinstitutionalisation, following the killing of Jonathan Zito in They are closing down large institutions but not providing the resources for after care.

The Reading Room: A review of ‘Performance, Madness and Psychiatry’

There are clients who need long-term supervision to ensure that they are taking their medication and to ensure that they are safe - Mr. Clunis was one and I want a 27 But see Neal for a discussion of the representations of gender and race in the media coverage of this story. Jayne Zito set up the Zito Trust, which lobbied for increased powers over mental health service users in the community, in order to protect the public.

Although it is not likely that Sams had the Zito murder specifically in mind when he made his directorial decisions, the increased public awareness of the debate around community care and a renewed media-led concern about the potential connection between mental illness and violent conduct provides an additional symbolic resonance to the asylum.

The extreme violence with which the rioting patients was met occupies an unstable position between wish-fulfillment on the part of those advocating for much stricter legislation, and a reminder of some of the reasons deinstitutionalisation had been advocated in the first place. Spaces of conflict: fluid institutional spaces, fluid theatre spaces In keeping with this heterotopic space, and the general loosening of the association between mental health service-users and institutional space, comes an increased fluidity of the boundary between the spaces of madness set up in the production and the space inhabited by the audience.

Neilson uses this more flexible space to the full, with curved ladders enabling actors to deliver their lines from directly above audience members in the stalls. In part, this more fluid performance space emerges from the more complex dynamics in the interaction between coercion and care which typifies contemporary mental health discourse. This is a psychiatric power based on surveillance, on power exercised from a distance. Conclusions The shifting spaces discussed in this section, along with the historical background to more general thought about asylums, give access to some ways in which the valance of the asylum has shifted on stage.

From its earliest historical development, the asylum has possessed a dual nature as a space for genuine interpersonal compassion and brutal treatment, a space of freedom from the world outside and a space demarking a lack of freedom within it. With this in mind, the next chapter will home in on a more politically specific appropriation of the symbolic spaces of confinement: plays which address directly the question of the relation between madness and gender briefly alluded to above.

The role of space in feminist thought is like so much else a contested one. This is, in part, a result of the relative conceptual absence of women from public space until the last century, and the general association of femininity with the private sphere Darke The picture can be further complicated with reference to Lefebvre, whose concentration on the production of space necessarily considers how space comes into being through time.

In addition to a link between space and time, the quotation from Helene Cixous which opens this chapter suggests a connection between the theatre and the asylum: for Cixous, the asylum is one of the repressive spaces to which a woman must be relegated in order for theatre as traditionally conceived to take place. The historical specificities of theatre space, and of spaces of psychiatric treatment, cannot be separated from the spatio-temporal processes which have preceded and produced them. The vast majority of the plays discussed in this chapter have been produced either at the Royal Court, or in more marginal contexts, through academic departments or charity activism.

These differing contexts have an impact on the spatialities of the plays themselves. Producing plays for the Royal Court, for example, imposes a certain set of expectations on the part of the writer, determined by both cultural and physical space: the Court is known to have a particular centre-left political position, while budget considerations as well as issues of space limit flexibility in terms of set design or the number of actors available. This chapter will address the ways in which space has been used in feminist representations of madness on stage, and the argument will proceed in three stages.

Firstly, there is a brief discussion of some of the theoretical and historical contexts for the feminist engagement with discourses of mental illness. This is followed by a discussion of the ways in which two plays by Sarah Daniels, Beside Herself and Head Rot Holiday, use space to explore the interactions between social attitudes to gender and metal illness. Why is it that it has always been women? His hysterical women patients were surrounded by images of female hysteria. However, both self-harm and suicide are strongly associated with mental ill health in contemporary culture. Aretaeus of Cappadocia , in Chapter IX of his De causis et signis acutorum morborum, 31 provides one of the clearest statements of the idea that hysteria was caused by the womb moving around within the female body: [I]n a word, [the womb] is altogether erratic.

It delights […] in fragrant smells, and advances towards them; and it has an aversion to fetid smells, and flees from them; and, on the whole, the womb is like an animal within an animal. When, therefore, it is suddenly carried upwards, and remains above for a considerable time, and violently compresses the intestines, the woman experiences a choking, after the form of epilepsy, but without convulsions.

These gendered and staged notions of madness have made its aetiology, treatment and politics a contested area within feminism. However, the influence of French post-structuralist thought within the humanities has led to a reappraisal of the value of psychoanalysis, and writers including Juliet Mitchell have used the tools provided by psychoanalysis for more overtly feminist ends.

Of Psychiatry Madness

She has taken her place both in the developing performance histories of canonical texts notably including Macbeth and The Duchess of Malfi , and in more contemporary plays by writers including Pam Gems Dusa, Fish, Stas, and Vi [] and Sarah Daniels Beside Herself []. This perspective is a result both of changing understandings of the nature and location of mental illness, and of the continued influence of feminist critiques.

As Shoshana Felman writes: If madness as such is defined as an act of faith in reason, no reasonable conviction can indeed be exempt from the suspicion of madness. Reason and madness are therefore inextricably linked; madness is essentially a phenomenon of thought, of thought which claims to denounce, in another thought, the Other of thought: that which thought is not.

Madness can only occur within a world of conflict, within a conflict of thoughts , In the light of these approaches, and the co-incidence, in the second half of the twentieth century, of changes in social understandings of madness and widespread debate over the position of women within society, it is similarly unsurprising that feminist playwrights became particularly concerned with the relationship between gender and madness.

The writers who will be discussed in this chapter engage with space, not just within their plays, but also in their own interaction with British theatrical culture. The representation of women writers in the traditional spaces for new writing was limited in the early days of the subsidised 33 In relation to contemporary cognitive science, Philip Barnard has also employed the metaphor of the bridge as a way of thinking about the interactions between theory and practice.

While some were able to work within mainstream theatrical spaces, other had to find locations on the fringes of the theatrical establishment. Mitchell , The status of radio drama in relation to the broader theatrical ecosystem is unstable, since it has the potential reach a large audience, but requires fewer resources to produce and lacks the visibility of a run at a theatre such as the Royal Court, thereby providing a space which can be appropriated for increasing exposure.

Tactical actions are not simply made by the writer in a vacuum, and nor are they imposed by an external force, such as theatre management. As a result of these pressures, and the fact that plays considering the gender dynamics of mental illness are intimately connected to the contested spatialities they inhabit, represent, and attempt to bring into being, special attention must be paid to the forms of tactical engagement at these intersections. By addressing historical discourses of madness from the conflicted positions of individual female patients for example , the best of these plays challenge the binary constructions which 34 Radio drama is also notable for its unstable connection to the body.

For playwright Sarah Daniels, as for Diamond, naturalism and hysteria are connected. Beside Herself is particularly interesting both in its use of space an in its apparently banal setting. The play opens in a decidedly non-naturalistic space, which juxtaposes costume and blocking suggesting an archetypal Renaissance painting with the banality of supermarket shelves. Biblically, the Exodus was a moment of deliverance, in which the Israelites passed through the Red Sea an image of chaos into the uncertainty of the wilderness.

However, the spatial logic of the play also contains the implication that, in order to establish this female community, women must escape the built environment of supermarket, community home and asylum, and return to nature — the open air. However, as a result, it also avoids the trap of abandoning the issues under discussion too soon, giving a narrative appearance of resolution which, by transcending rather than fully resolving the issues, leaves questions uncomfortably, glaringly open, at odds with the artificial neatness of the dramatic denouement.

Promotional image for Head Rot Holiday. This circularity is emphasised by the constant, non-naturalistic set: a committal document which covers both backdrop and stage fig. These approaches will be discussed in more detail in the second section of the thesis. As demonstrated above, however, investing so much discursive weight in the operation of space may fail to take into account the potential of space to oppress as well as liberate.

By utilising a circular plot, and a set which refuses to allow the audience to adopt a straightforwardly clinical gaze, Head Rot Holiday emphasises the specific experience of each character. Later in this chapter, we will see a similar charge of impairment against the dramaturgy of Sarah Kane. The audience, often to their frustration, are not offered a simple recourse to other binary constructions, but are caught in a constant conceptual dialogue between the implicit space of the mental institution, the visual space of the stage, the vocal communication of subjective experience, and the body-presence of the actors.

Beyond feminism, out of space? Have there been further developments? Is feminism even a valid category anymore? Since, as already discussed, changing cultural contexts alter how both madness and space are conceived, it is important to understand the wide ranging conceptual shift within which postfeminism falls in order to assess the spaces and conceptions of madness it has influenced. Postfeminism — development or recuperation? If these examples seem a long way from the combative approaches taken by Sarah Daniels, it is no surprise. Any discussion about postfeminism is complicated by the fact the term is not universally used in the sense identified by Hall and Rodriguez.

Whichever definition of postfeminism we use, however, it is clear that the shape of feminist discourse has changed significantly between the s and the present, and that the terms involved have therefore become more contested. However, drawing from the British strand of writing about postfeminism, it becomes clear that the anxiety surrounding the conception of feminism is powerfully connected to the same questions of madness, spectacle, and gender which have occupied this chapter so far.


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Rather than the aggressive marketisation pursued by Margaret Thatcher, Third Way politics pays lip service to social democracy while its underlying engine drives towards neo-liberal ends. The changed funding structures and associated cuts in arts subsidy over the course of the s increased the tension between subsidised theatre and parts of the press over what kind of theatre should receive subsidy. Sarah Daniels was a particular victim of press opprobrium in the reaction to her anti- pornography play Masterpieces, which was dubbed misandrist for its black-and-white take on sexual violence.

However, this move away from overt feminist writing on the part of the Royal Court and other major theatres neither signaled an end to interest in gender and madness on stage, nor an identifiable moment at which representations suddenly shifted. Identifying this continuity suggests that, although Sierz is right to draw attention to the new emphasis on the experiential in the s, it is important to recognise points of continuity and development, rather than being seduced by a narrative of rupture.

The subjects of the plays become more explicitly focused on the local over time, mirroring the move traced above from plays which make large claims about the nature of madness to those which focus on the spatial specificities of individuals. However, he does identify a shift in the spatiality of madness, and in the discussion that follows I will show that one origin of this shift is in the similarly shifting physical location of mental health treatment.

The centrality of space to the representation of madness, as discussed above, is a consequence both of the inherent spatiality of the theatre and of the spatial history of psychiatric treatment. However, the advent of deinstitutionalisation in mental health care, and of experimental theatrical forms which challenge the conventional divisions of the theatre space such as those proposed by Issacharoff and Scolnicov , suggests a move away from traditional conceptions of space and towards a cultural milieu in which the idea of space is at once brought to the centre and radically undermined.

As a result, any shift into spaces which are very small or very large, or which in other ways complicate the exact division between spectator and performer, both draw attention to the space and radically alter our perception of it. Before the interval, however, the hotel room is literally blown apart, and the casual violence displayed by Ian becomes the organising logic of a nightmarish, war-torn landscape.

By the, Ian has been raped, had his eyes sucked out, and eats a dead baby, while Cate displays a resilience and resourcefulness barely hinted at in the first act. Unfortunately, they find themselves lost in place, wandering within spaces that are transient, porous and constantly under siege , I would argue that this focus on space is present in all her plays, even if not especially in Crave and Psychosis, both of which deliberately refuse traditional markers of theatrical space.

The success of Macdonald's [] production is that Cate and Ian show us the possibility for good, that people ravaged by unfathomable violence can give each other the gift of survival , While this reading is valuable, it is equally important that we do not too quickly collapse the radical discomfort which emerges as much from spatial dislocation as from moral uncertainty. Kane returns us more forcefully to this presence with every formal experiment: by weakening the traditional logic of the dramatic stage-space, she also weakens the sense that her plays are the containers for a message.

For Lefebvre, this logic of visualisation makes space appear transparent — but this is appearance only, based on a tautology or metonymy which assumes that the truth of a single image photograph, advertisement, film is necessarily the truth of space. Non-naturalistic forms, by refusing to consider space as either transparent or opaque, attempt to draw attention to and problematise the logic of the visible.

When a person has paranoia or delusions, but no other symptoms like hearing or seeing things that aren't there , they might have what is called a delusional disorder. Because only thoughts are impacted, a person with delusional disorder can usually work and function in everyday life, however, their lives may be limited and isolated.

Delusional disorder is characterized by irrational or intense belief s or suspicion s which a person believes to be true. These beliefs may seem outlandish and impossible bizarre or fit within the realm of what is possible non-bizarre. Symptoms must last for 1 month or longer in order for someone to be diagnosed with delusional disorder.

Symptoms of paranoia and delusional disorders include intense and irrational mistrust or suspicion, which can bring on sense of fear, anger, and betrayal. Some identifiable beliefs and behaviors of individuals with symptoms of paranoia include mistrust, hypervigilence, difficulty with forgiveness, defensive attitude in response to imagined criticism, preoccupation with hidden motives, fear of being deceived or taken advantage of, inability to relax, or are argumentative.

The cause of paranoia is a breakdown of various mental and emotional functions involving reasoning and assigned meanings. The reasons for these breakdowns are varied and uncertain. Some symptoms of paranoia relate to repressed, denied or projected feelings. Often, paranoid thoughts and feelings are related to events and relationships in a person's life, thereby increasing isolation and difficulty with getting help. A delusion is an odd belief that a person firmly insists is true despite evidence that it is not. Cultural beliefs that may seem odd, but are widely accepted do not fit the criteria for being a delusion.

Two of the most common types of delusions are delusions of grandeur or persecutory delusions. Treatment of paranoia is usually via medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. The most important element in treating paranoia and delusional disorder, is building a trusting and collaborative relationship to reduce the impact of irrational fearful thoughts and improving social skills. It can be difficult to treat a person with paranoia since symptoms result in increased irritability, emotionally guardedness, and possible hostility.


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