Theories about the causes of mental health issues continue to accumulate ad nauseum. I have often ruminated about the root of my own mental distress and long ago, tired of the traditional nature/nurture model. However, I have often been drawn to Satre’s argument that one chooses madness. For, whilst, ostensibly appearing to reinforce the fallacious and reactionary notion that individuals are blameworthy for their own mental health conditions, a further exploration of Satre’s theory reveals a much broader and satisfying analysis.
Satre’s view, represented in his seminal book about the writer Jean Genet, eschews the existence of subconscious and unconscious factors. Negating the theory of the unconscious, Satre theorises about a pre-conscious mind. I believe that this constitutes an unsatisfying compromise in reaction to the one dimensionality of the model of unified consciousness. Thus, I would argue that a more comprehensive theory of the acquisition of a choice to be “mad” would incorporate the influence of unconscious and subconscious processes upon the conscious being. I will, now, support my argument with an example from my own lived experience.
Famously, Shakespeare argued that life merely is a stage. If this is true, twenty years ago I was a player; a student whose performance skills left much to be desired. My projected self, like the Laingian false self, gradually crumbled the weight of its often contradictory inner reality (real self). I firmly believe that inauthenticity in one’s external presentation of selfhood emanates from the presence of conflicting and damaging emotions projected in behaviour which contrasts with the nature of the unconscious and subconscious thought processes of the individual. The longer one manifests inauthentic behaviour, the more likely mental health issues are to develop. Recovery is only possible when one can unravel oneself.
Life is about unravelling; only the moment of death reveals pure self.
To all interested parties. My first novella is finally available. “The General Paralysis of Sanity,” by Louise M. Hart is available from the website of my publisher, CHIPMUNKAPUBLISHING, or from all the usual sources. You would be mad not to read it!
On the day of Daniel Day-Lewis’ triple Oscar success, I would like to recommend a film which, over forty years ago, recieved a nod from Oscar, himself. “Morgan, A Suitable Case for Treatment,” (1966) was a highly successful and much publicised film set in a London that swung to the rythmns of the mini-skirt and Pink Floyd. Directed by Karel Reisz, whom I had the pleasure to see at a Q and A session at university in 1991, the film is shot in grimey black and white and depicts the story of a dreamer amd outsider, for whom psychosis offers an escape from the chaos of his own life.
The film was written by David Mercer who, though largely forgotten nowadays, was a leading British playwrite in the 1960’s. As a young person in the 1980’s-1990’s I discovered and subsequently fell in-love with Mercer’s writing; his preoccupations with social class and mental illness mirroring my own. Nowhere were these preoccupations more evident than in, “Morgan, A Suitable Case for Treatment.”
Hand me some amphetamines and maybe I will write with the speed, fluidity and ease of Philip K. Dick. For my pen is sick with the disease of writers block, induced by a reduction in its intake of unhealthy stimuli and a rejection of manly cock. I have spent the last few days behind a smoke screen of self-pity, my withdrawal from my writerly desk reflecting nicotine withdrawal and caffeine underdose. Thus, I am, currently, contemplating why there has never been a serious analysis of the relationship between writing and smoking. Maybe, when a writer is clean, she cannot write and, when dirty, she has better “things” to do at night than analyse habitual “givens.”
Denying existence is a life choice. Smoking may nullify one’s audible voice, however, it expresses the power of the word, “no,” in symbol and deed. Whilst I am cautious about inappropriate representations of affirmation, the word “yes,” now, whispers upon my breath.
The rasping torment
Of living within
Lungs of smoke.
A cough of envy
The beatrific bobbs
Of life, smoke free
In the transparent sea
The glue that binds
That does not end.
Has ended terminally.
After we lose our sense of taste.
This is the question…
Is it better to feed my addiction
than impede my creativity?
Why has it been three days since I wrote a post? Because I have stopped smoking!
On Sunday night, I inhaled my last drag of a cigarrette. Presently, at six o’clock on Wednesday morning, I am inhaling the sweet smell of despair. In an hour the shop around the corner will open. In an hour I could experience bliss; nicotine filling my lungs with cancerous caresses, yielding diseases like a whore of the mouth. However, I am resistant to the pulling power of a whore, choosing, rather to walk my own path. Celibacy is synonymous with selfhood, celibacy says no to more propositions than sex. But, I am weak and have desires which could satisfied; I fancy a fag.
Currently, there is much debate about whether patients in psychiatric hospitals should be allowed to smoke on wards. Perhaps, if medical practitioners were more attentive to issues relating to the physical health of people affected by mental health problems, there would be fewer patients dependent on cigarrettes. Perhaps, a more holistic approach should be introduced. Surely, in the long term addressing these issues would save the N.H.S. money.
I am recovering, not only from mental ill health, but, like the rest of humankind, from life, itself.
Almost two years ago, my pet dog died. His heart expanded and broke into the ether with his spirit…as did my own. His passing left a void in my life and a sense of quietness in my house. Somehow, I broke through.
In the abscence of dog-kind, a ginger cat became a regular visitor. She accepted our offers of love and affection, and any remnants of salmon we chose to offer her, lapping-up the milk of our humankindess, like serendipity’s Queen. The void narrowed and the house began to purr. I had touched love, again and yearned to touch more. However, Chloe was a visitor, she did not live with us!
Linus arrived via our neighbour’s sister in a cat carrier. A scrap of black kittenhood, his eyes were different colours, like Bowie’s and he liked the sound of his own voice. Part gremlin, part woolley monkey, he was wholley pussy, inside. Immediately, his disposition and behavioural quirks fascinated me. It was joy at first sight. Linus soon became part of our life, the days structured around his meal-times and sojourns into the outside world. One day, a neighbour informed us that Chloe, our ginger cat visitor, had failed to come home. She had fulfilled her destiny as a healer and was never seen again.
Historically, muses were often maidens, fair, or gentlemen, broard and strong. My own muse had become a cat, small and sleek, who seemed to have re-written the dialogue of my mind; an idea (recovery) had been anthropomorphised in feline form. Thus, I re-formed my literary technique and now, encompass the language of the heart in my written interpretations of life of the mind.
If I have to endure hearing/reading another interview with a “z list” celebrity proclaiming the cathartic qualities of writing (alledgedly) their own autobiographies, I think I shall experience the qualities of a mental mind flip, my thoughts transporting me back in time to a realm where “Heaven” was a nightclub favoured by boys in white denim and pubs closed at 11 p.m. Were Foucault alive, today, he would, probably, declare the ascendancy of the will to nostalgia to be attributable to the death of post, post, post modernity. I say that the soul died in 1993. I should know, for I experienced it.
1993. I am a philosophy major at a university in London. My head aches with the weight of its own sanity and over-indulgence in alcohol. I am a writer in search of a subject, a delineater of the mind, who sees nothing beyond the bridge of her own consciousness; a writer in search of breakdown/breakthrough. I searched and found, failing to breakthrough.
This was written by me, not a ghost! If I have learned anything in my twenty year battle with bipolarity and lifelong struggle to free myself from the asylum in my mind, it is that there is no cure. Life is an illness, which can only be eased by the pill of self-medication. Sanity is not always worthy of veneration, for madness sees beyond words and walls into truth. I write and madly, achieve a state of equilibrium. Well, almost, but not quite…must be those cathartic qualities.
A Bit About Me
My name is Louise M. Hart I am a writer and a poet. My poetry has been published in anthologies. My debut novel and a collection of my poetry are shortly to be published by Chipmunkapublishing (thanks Jason et al). I like animals, Morrissey and words beginning with the letter “L.” When I grow-up I want to visit reality and give myself to charity. In the meantime, I shall write.