INTERPRETATION OF MADNESS AND POSSIBILITIES OF NON – MODERNITY

G.M.Subhasree iyer

This paper attempts to explore the non- modernity of psychology and the interpretation of Madness which can be extracted from the writings of Foucault and Girindrasekhar Basu and other articles by Anup Kumar Dhar. My attempt in reading these makes me wonder as to what Madness is and what is Reason and Non- Reason. Further, in this reaction paper I would mainly existing “Indian Psychology”. I would not waffle to name Psychology as a “Uncritical Pedagogy: Thoughts without a thinker?”  With various instances from works by Foucault and also various other articles scripted by Anup Kumar Dhar and articles on Girindrasekhar Bose, I would try to rethink psychology in India by debating the past and future. However, this attempt may not ensure a complete cloture of all the articles but attempts to capture a few instance and interpret them.

Interpretation of Madness:

Quoting the words by Pascal from the “Preface to the 1961 edition’: “Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness.” And Dostoievsky, in his diary of a writer: “It is not by confining one’s neighbor that one is convinced of one’s possessed sanity.”

We can interpret it as a show where we still have to write the history of that other face of madness, by which individuals, adjust to their neighbors, and communicate and recognize each other through the merciless language of non-madness as an act of sovereign reason. However, we could try to travel back, in history, to that null point in the course of madness at which madness was an undifferentiated experience, may be not yet even having an experience of division within itself.

However, undoubtedly madness remains an uncomfortable dimension. To explore it, we must abdicate the convenience of terminal truths, and never let ourselves be guided by the knowledge of what madness is. What are important and constitutive are the pathway and the ‘Kriya’ (action) that divides madness and not the science that elaborated once this division was made and calmness restored. Thus, the cynic here tinned be that the world sinks into universal Fury and that Victory is neither God’s nor the Devil’s: it belongs to Madness.

Madness fascinates man in all the ways. The fantastic images it generates are not fleeting appearances that quickly disappear from the surface of things. In a very predominant way, then, madness is not linked to the world and its subterranean forms, but rather to man, to his weaknesses, dreams, and illusions.

In History of Madness, Foucault gives an idea of Madness by comparing it with Silence and also gives a few phases in history where he gives Madness a fresh stand. Firstly, reducing Madness to mere disease and then to unreason and further to silence and how this silence causes a difficulty and reams a difficulty! Indeed, Foucault’s mention of the conversation between conclude and madness in the renaissance period and later how madness and reason was “radically separated” which he calls the ‘classical age’ gives us an image of the beginning of the genuine separation of Reason and Madness (Non- reason) and how prevalent this division started right from then.

In reference to the article ‘Science(s) of the Mind: Fort-Da between the windscreen and the rearview mirror’ by Anup Kumar Dhar, it makes me ponder and believe Non- reason as a child forsake and deprived, crying under the scorching heat of surpassing generations, for justice! Moreover, it seems certain that Reason and Non- Reason have been put in to two different entities, with no proper stand for Non- reason to substantially arise (the aspect long forgotten)

Again, in reference to the article by Anup Kumar Dhar: Tracing back to the time of Freud and his theory of Psychoanalysis, it helps us think whether it is a theory instituted through the attention to language of irrationality- phantasm- dreams and also when we term him as a philosopher sensitive to silence(s); it leads in to a grave situation of what was Freud’s relation to silence and what was the institution of silence as a separate language- discourse- entity- treatment- reason and non- reason (otherwise madness).

One classic statement stated by Foucault some the role of madness is that “the role of madness is to indicate a discrepancy between what men are and what they pretend to be.” This can be interpreted as the wise man’s vision towards reason and what he justifies as ‘madness’. If we take this statement further, we can relate it with the colonial domination. Sources in the history of colonial psychiatry reveal an outstanding deal about what psychiatric practitioners, judges, police, families, and neighbors reasoned “pathological” in the compound context, thereby shedding light on the “normal” as well. While compound psychiatric work may reveal little scientific truth” about psychology, the practice of colonial mental health care provided a venue for discussing colonial psychology explicitly, and therefore constitutes an essential location for scholars grappling with this important historiographical problem

As psychiatry occupies an unique space between the social and natural sciences, the discipline constitutes a crucial locus for study of the relationship between knowledge and power in colonial domination. The asylum in any context functions as both hospital and prison, and psychiatry’s medical applications render the mental institution the ultimate “correctional facility.)

When we take a close look on Foucault’s work (1988); we can see as to how silence was imposed on Non- Reason, and how Non- Reason was personified in to an object of knowledge clearly tells us the denial of accepting Non- Reason as a separate entity in par with Reason. Thus, I don’t regret to state that science and psychiatry —- are as dubious as Non- Reason, as these disciplines (‘strangely’) deal with what is called MAD- otherwise called SILENCE- otherwise called, NON-REASON, which remains a Herculean task to be solved in its true sense.

The experience of Madness in the 17th and 18th century is perceived an unreason, or an absolute opposite of Reason!

The Possibilities of Non- Modern Psychology:

The very brain of the normalists lie in coercion with the other called abnormal. The fundamental principles of the disciplines like psychiatry, psychology lie in this discrimination of abnormal from normal. With the issue of the reason and non- reason unsolved, how are all these discipline ruling their sphere efficiently?

The history of psychology in India has been interpreted in only one way. The development of modern psychology has always been seen, especially in colonial and post-colonial times, through the prism of a western science which makes evolutionary and linear progress and where we are perpetually located in a situation of lack. This reductionism and positivistic way of interpreting a past needs to be questioned. To explore how the past of Indian psychology is represented, the interdisciplinary method of social science is required and historical texts selected from colonial and post-colonial times need to be gleaned.

Further, the ahistorical and acultural understanding has prevented us from exploring the conceptual issues that are specific to Indian psychology. We are still struggling to erase the lack in Indian psychology in relation to the Euro-American one. Different perspectives of historicism have helped us to look at the epistemological struggles that took place at various levels of discourses of Indian psychology; one such example is Girindrasekhar Bose. This critical investigation hints at the forgotten or silenced knowledge of Indian psychology that contributes to its conceptual development. If we need to know why the outcome of treatment of schizophrenia is better in our country compared to the developed ones, then we not only have to study the history and culture of schizophrenia in India, but also how schizophrenia is constructed in our society. Perhaps it is not too late to develop theoretical concepts of Indian psychology by exploring interdisciplinary historical studies visible at the horizon. As psychiatry/psychology occupies an unique space between the social and natural sciences, this discipline constitutes a crucial locus for study of the relationship between knowledge and power in colonial domination.

Further, I can pull the strings ahead and call psychology of the present day as an Uncritical Pedagogy: Thoughts without a Thinker? As unfortunately amongst the psychology courses offered in India today no paper or course work is devoted specifically to reading, thinking, critically engaging with the historical past and future directions of the discipline in India. As a consequence, one does not get to know the founding members of discipline, where, when it was introduced and why and how its need was felt, and how past developments and innovations shaped or mis-shaped the destiny of the discipline in the country. There is no time-line drawn to demarcate the evolution of the discipline (and it is no linear best-fit line that one is talking of – it is a history of progression and movement that one has to painstakingly evolve). It is here that explorations within the fields of cultural history, pedagogy, philosophy, post-colonialist and sociology that are much needed today to fill in gaps; similarly explorations within medical sciences such as epidemiology, public health and psychiatry are required to trace antecedents of the paradigms and practices prevalent within psychology in India.

Rethinking Psychology in India: debating pasts and ulterior:

Can the god, being used to Calcutta, not ramping the climate in Vienna?

Freud’s note in his diary about Bose, (Cited in Christiane Hartnack, 2005:10)

The quote above is Freud’s mentioned about the Be