This past Saturday I had the opportunity (alongside Giovanni Stanghellini, Tim Thornton, Matthew Ratcliffe, and Angela Woods) to present a paper concerning (roughly) the past and possible future role(s) of the first person in phenomenological psychopathology.
My (very brief) reflections on my presentation and the larger symposium are roughly as follows:
(1) Having endeavored to write a paper as attentive to the complexities of theorizing psychosis as possible, it seems now that I erred much too far on the side of complication, subtlety, performative ambivalence and oblique meta-critique. Or, to put it much more simply, I’m afraid most of the audience walked away with only the most obvious ‘points’ (“service user inclusion is important, or at least Nev thinks it is”) while ignoring what I personally see as far more important arguments concerning power, the (present and) historical conditions of possibility of discourse, and the challenges posed by the inaccessibility of mad experience. (To say nothing of the demand that we move past analyses of content to analyses of performance and effect–what texts (speakers, presentations, talks) do (and naturalize and reify and sediment) in addition to what they “say.” [At least, I hope, if I was wholly misunderstood, I nevertheless "sounded smart."]
(2) In a mixed audience (read: majority analytic philosophers), respectful invocations of Foucault and Derrida are apparently not the way to go. In spite of having encountered this attitude myriad times in the US (in many circles the bitter feud between continental and analytic philosophers seems to revolve around no single figure more strongly than Derrida), I find myself more quite dismayed by a continuing refusal to seriously engage with philosophical poststructuralism and deconstruction. (“Obscurantists” was a phrase I heard, whispered or in passing, no less than three times over the course of the day.)
(3) As indicated in my last post, tokenism, tokenistic forms of inclusion, and tokenistic gestures of inclusion, seem everywhere to substitute for a more robust analysis of the mechanisms of physical and intellectual exclusion in academia and its consequences. And yet even such tokenism seems a more hopeful sign than the occasional academic who is actually willing to explicitly and very publicly defend the wholesale exclusion of service user perspectives. (Yes, this happened too.)
We (and who are we?) have a long way to go.