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josef k.
09-06-2009, 08:57 AM
Sylvere Lotringer:


"I had just spent a year with Felix Guattari and his group in Paris and returning to New York I thought I should get involved with a group of “radical therapists” and ex-mental patients. I helped them organize a week-end meeting in a brownstone in Chelsea, some thirty people in all, psychiatrists and patients coming from various places on the East Coast. It didn't turn out to be at all what I imagined. It was dull and a bit oppressive, with some people already jockeying for whatever power they could grab. We started by going around, asking everyone to tell briefly who they are, a formal way of creating some illusion of intimacy. At one point one of the participants started telling his life in great details, the hospitals he had been admitted to, etc. No one budged. Everyone listened patiently for a long time, thinking in petto : this must be one of them, a “mental patient.” A radical psychiatrist improvised himself as the chairman and moved behind a little table. He turned around and asked suavely if anyone found anything objectionable in this person taking so much of everybody's precious time. After all, had we not all come a long way to discuss serious matters pertaining to madness, therapy, the politics of the institution. This made sense. Instantly someone rose and told the “mental patient” to just shut up. The man didn't say anything, just smiled and discreetly left the room. I remember thinking: Well, this must be the way one treats mental patients in this country. So it was the accepted code, and I didn't think any further. The rest of the morning went by, a bit stuffy, with the radical psychiatrist and a colleague of his now presiding over the discussions. I felt a bit depressed, I didn't know why, and I went up to the roof during a break looking for a bit of fresh air, a view of the open sky - I was dreading to go back, but what could I do? I was one of the organizers. Suddenly I found the leg of a mannequin lying on the roof. I was doing sculptures at the time and thought I could use it, so I returned downstairs, feeling a bit better, holding the leg in my hands.
Then I saw the little table and the two psychiatrists seated behind. They were looking at me and my leg and without thinking I put the leg straight up on top of the table. I was smiling. That might cheer up the atmosphere. Little did I know. The same little dance instantly repeated itself, but this time it was at my own expense. The psychiatrist now in charge again asked around (he wasn't forcing anything on anyone) whether this was the proper thing to do, putting this leg there, up his nose, while we were having a serious discussion. A woman immediately rose, and objected angrily to the fact that it was a woman's leg I had put on display; then another man silently rose and took the incriminated piece of body equipment off the table. It finally downed on me that I was being treated exactly the way the "mental patient" had been a few hours before. It had taken me to be put in the same position. Suddenly I realized what the “patient” had done a few hours before and what the "code" was really about. It had been some kind of “schizzy” behavior. The man had tested the pseudo-liberalism of the assembly, pulling everybody's leg to force the little power game to crystallize. So I simply took the leg under my arms and left."

See also: Sinnnerman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_BWNzThJY).

nomadthethird
10-06-2009, 02:48 AM
Sylvere Lotringer:



See also: Sinnnerman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6_BWNzThJY).

I really like this story, but it reminds me more of class than therapy.