Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Psychosis Darkly

(PKD continued):

from "Neuropsychology and Psychosis in 'A Scanner Darkly'":
"""For its insight into altered states, Philip K. Dick's writing is especially noteworthy however; he was highly knowledgeable about mental illness, not only from his own experience - he regularly saw a psychiatrist for most of his life - but also through his acquaintance with key texts in psychology and psychiatry (Carrère, 2004). Consequently, it would be easy to read A Scanner Darkly as a rehash of radical theories of mental illness, particularly those of R.D. Laing and Aaron Esterson (Laing and Esterson, 1964), who viewed madness as an attempt to reconcile roles that have become irreconcilable in modern life. However, Dick was not content with simply repeating the fashionable anti-establishment views of the time and attempted an explanation based on an understanding of neuropsychology."""

The Mindhack most likely errors in his hasty dismissal of the influence of RD Laing and other anti-psychology/psychiatry writers of the 60s. I am not sure whether Dick had read RD Laing or Esterson, but A Scanner Darkly does not exactly bless the psychology business. In the novel the cops subject Arctor/Fred to routine psychological examinations/observations. Doesn't PK Dick thereby suggest the psychology business has become synonymous with the police business (or, police state)?

It's easy enough to read PKD books as explorations of altered consciousness, or drug-related adventures (though, granted, Substance D does sound a great deal like meth), yet many PKD readers tend to psychedelic-ize psychologize when they should ...politicize, or perhaps, politicize the institution of psychology. Given the phenomena of Walmarts, Wall Streets, fundamentalist idiots, and ICBMs, psychosis of various degrees may in some sense be a reasonable choice--if not a result of the Pathocracy, however trite that sounds to the cognoscenti; the Noumenal, even a somewhat crazy, neuro-psychological Noumenal often may be preferable to the Phenomenal (especially for those living in poverty, or war-zones, including those of SoCal).

Like PK Dick, Laing did not approve of a cop-state, whether run by rightist-behaviorists or hip, Lacan-quoting psychoanalysts: both send troublemakers--whether perps or the non-PC--to the Dept's of Behavior Therapy--be good, or....we'll make you good, via dope or a bit of reinforcement--. Laing may have gone a bit too far in his detestation of clinical psych. --certainly some people, including functioning, apparently "normal", are mentally ill, and behavior modification may be successful at times, administered correctly (Skinner was not the most sinister of human beings, regardless of what Laing, Chomsky or other leftists insisted). Regardless, Laing's been relegated to the dustbin of the counterculture, but his criticisms of the mental health bureaucracy still seem relevant to Dick's works, and however cliche, society at large (to be continued).

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