As I’ve almost certainly mentioned before, I have extremely ambivalent feelings about “first person accounts”–accounts which, all too often, “reduce [their author] from a whole and usual [thinker/citizen] to a tainted, discounted one.” (Yes, I’m intentionally riffing on Goffman.) The conviction that recovery stories are empowering, to some extent understandably, endures, and yet from the vantage point of an academic trainee immersed in the discourse of the health and social sciences, the painful, almost tragic, irony of this “empowerment” is all too clear. Viz: the theoretical chasm–truly a chasm–between “generalizable” and “non-generalizable” knowledge (FPAs will only ever be the latter, not the former, although they may “inform” it).
My indirect (“oblique”) purpose here is to explain why I decided not to publish the [my] Schizophrenia Bulletin “first person account” available here (“Externalizing Injustice: Madness is Never Here“). Let me be very clear that I am not attacking or criticizing first person accounts and narratives, but rather cynically commenting on their devalued status in the reigning social science “hierarchy of discourse.” I have a secret (or not so secret) desire to shame the research establishment, but no matter how keen this desire is, I know or think I know–I have thoroughly internalized the post-positivistic panopticon, if you will–that it is just not the way to win the game.