Saturday, February 24, 2007

Guilty Pleasure: Hack Psychology

Eleven popped by the kitchen the other day to say hello. She also recommended The Unsayable by Annie G Rogers. That evening I went by the library and checked it out. I picked it up after dinner, and I didn't put it down 'til around midnight, when I had read the final chapter. Eleven had said it was "intense" and at the time I thought she mean that the subject was heavy, but I didn't think I'd be absolutely glued to it for six solid hours.

I Might Think Twice Before I Post Another Dream

Dr Roger's premise is that language is the first trauma. When we are infants learning language, in the process we lose a big part of ourselves that cannot be put into words, and that piece becomes our unconscious. Because our unconscious is without words it uses the body, dreams, verbal slips, art, events and whole slew of other things to communicate with. Her ideas were influenced by Jacques Lacan, a French psychoanalyst, who said "the unconscious is structured like language". She worked with children and adolescents who were victims of abuse and who couldn't talk about it. She found ways of listening to the clues that slipped past the children's consciousnesses, helped them listen to themselves, and in the process they were able to heal.

The thing that Eleven and I found compelling was that in Quebec there is a Lacanian analysis program that has a high success rate for young adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. After 8 years of treatment 60% of the patients are off heavy medications and are living relatively normal lives. That is huge. My uncle wasn't nearly this lucky. He died last month, after suffering from the disease for nearly forty years. His bedroom floor was covered with loose change, and his mattress was stuffed with newspapers. I wonder what he was trying to say?

I am Intrigued for Entirely Selfish Reasons

The idea of looking for clues to my unconscious in every aspect of my life is very exciting. I can be a more sensitive and reflective reader of "Fat Camille," the floor of my room and this blog. I can begin to unravel why, at nearly every stage of my life, there has been a male person of Hispanic heritage who corrects my English grammar (I can count four at this writing). Maybe some day I'll even be able to understand why I don't want a real job and why I can't seem to date anybody longer than four months at a time. I like the idea that very little separates dreams and daily life, because on a certain level, I experience them as one continuous narrative. Of course, anything that has to do with stories, narratives, symbols and decoding the above is seductive.

This explains why English feels so awkward, as if it is not my native tongue. When I am talking, words come out backwards, in the wrong language, or they don't come at all. I am a language victim! (stop your sniggering, Cab!)


El Caballero said...

You might like the argument of Daniel Heller-Roazen, in his book "Echolalias": acc. to him, all languages are founded not on a creation of sound out of original silence, but rather, on a silencing of an original fullness of sound, the infant's babble in which all possible sounds freely arise. Thus the possibility of language arises from a forgetting of the perfectly fluid infant-babble of infinite sound.

Camille said...

Sounds interesting. I only remember one word of my baby-talk. Leedlelee was "toe."

Poulet said...

You also might like the argument of Joachim Jeremias in his book "The Prayers of Jesus." Jeremias tries to finesse an argument in which Jesus' use of abba is unique as an address to God and echoes baby talk, i.e. the babble of filial familiarity. As attractive as this argument is, it is difficult to maintain as abba is no longer just baby speech but has entered adult speech (having done so well before the 1st century A.D.). How then does one distinguish one's inner child, as it were, from the overlay of adult conventions?

If only Jesus had comics...

Poulet said...

This was an exceptional post. I also enjoyed your Ash Wednesday post... even the dangling participle in the first graf!

Anonymous said...

I am intrigued. I shall check out that book, but your escapades at the Muttonham library has scared me off...

Camille said...

Hey Poulet! I thought I was the copy-editor! :P (it only took me three days to come up with that stunning return)

Hey H! Don't be frightened of what you may find at the MVPL. Mutton skims off about a hundred and fifty bucks every year from my paycheck with a fake "tax" so you better get your money's worth, Nietsche or no.

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