Too Much Reality, Research Time, 20/03/2018

When I was first reading Anti-Œdipus and really getting into it, I didn’t fully understand all the book’s arguments about psychiatry. I could follow the political philosophy well, but a more experienced researcher on Gilles Deleuze’s thought told me I needed some more background knowledge on the psychiatry before I could really dig into its concepts.

It’s been about 12 years since then. I think I’ve got this down reasonably.

Now, quite a lot of academic philosophy departments don’t consider Deleuze and Félix Guattari credible voices on scientific or medical issues. This is because they’re French philosophers whose major works dropped in the 1970s, so are associated with dreaded postmodernism.

Flying from reality? An excess of reality? By Mathieu Laca
Many university philosophy departments have characters more like Petersonian reaction than popular stereotypes about the discipline would have you believe.

As I’ve said before, Guattari was a groundbreaking psychiatrist, whose clinic La Borde was at the leading edge of creative new ways to treat psychotics and schizophrenics. The reason is because of his thorough materialism.

Under the influence of Freud – as well as Jung and pretty much the whole psychoanalytic model of thinking – you conceive of psychiatry as a rationalist practice. Your paradigm is what was literally called “the talking cure.”

So psychiatric practice is about the patient themselves analyzing themselves – the actual analyst acts as a guide so the patient learns the tools and understands the arguments and inferences to cure themselves. The patient understands the causes, conditions, nature, and the steps to follow in their daily lives to overcome their mental health problems.

That works for some mental health issues, but when Freud himself dealt with schizophrenics, he could do nothing. He described such patients as falling away from reality. Reality on his thinking was a material order of things and processes which you understood with rational human thought, language, and discourse.

Figure out the nature of a problem in clear thinking, after self-consciously exploring it. You can always fix your own mind if you understand its mechanics. Schizophrenics fall or fly from this because they can’t understand the world’s mechanics – empiricism is impossible.

Guattari had a totally different way to describe the schizophrenic state of mind – an excess of reality. Functioning people perceived and understood with a powerful focus. We cut away so much of a chaotic, messy environment.

Everyone is a machine. How fine is your tuning?
By Nychos
We sit on a busy bus without being overwhelmed by the activity around us – people moving back and forth, weaving through crowds in all directions, fumbling with bags and boxes, announcements of the next stop or slow stretches, cute puppies poking out of purses. We can keep our eye on a couple of things at a time.

We’re also doing this actively – making sense of all this mess on the damn bus. We remember who sat where, when our stop is, waddle to the door two or three stops in advance, stick our gloves deeper in our pockets so we don’t lose them, keeping an eye out for seated riders about to move. We can use this focussed attention as a basis to understand what’s going on and what we should do.

Schizophrenia explodes our focus. We can’t discriminate among possibilities because we spontaneously understand more causal processes than really exist. The imagination flies radically from the most trivial details. A passenger on the bus snorts out a sneeze, and it means that he’s part of the clandestine CIA plot to replace citizens with plastic machines.

We generate an excess of reality – an explosion of causes, explanations, and conditions. Unable to cut away any of our thought in perceiving or understanding, we overwhelm ourselves.

Funny part is, neurological research has a good angle on the causes of schizophrenia. It’s a destabilization of inhibitory signalling processes in the brain’s neural transmission. Destabilizing a process that should be in a proper range of inhibition.

Unable to regulate our reality – our thinking and world.

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