Do We Choose Madness?


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!

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