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Grafting and De-Grafting Mental Illness: The Identity of Madness

Sforza Tarabochia, Alvise (2008) Grafting and De-Grafting Mental Illness: The Identity of Madness. Skepsi, 1 (1). pp. 67-74. ISSN 1758-2679. (doi:SKEPSI_1_1_2008_SFO) (KAR id:33782)


I wish to begin my paper with a statement by Foucault, how considers, in concluding his Histoire de la folie, madness as a graft onto the world of reason. The social implications of this thesis cross all of his work: as a plant grafted onto another plant not only produces a new species but also depends on the host for nutrition, so happens with madness. There is no autonomous space for something like an identity of madness in the contemporary culture. The social body defines its reason setting against an excluded background and affirming itself in a negative fashion. This social graft has an important echo in each individual be it sane or insane. The age of the asylum opened the gates to the so called positivist psychiatry. In turn, this current could be said to graft onto man’s nature mental illness, rendering him corrupt and dangerous in his very essence. In order to overcome this discriminating reductionist naturalism, phenomenological psychiatry introduces a new relationship between the physician and the patient, modelled on the idea that both their subjectivities have to be called into question. This is achieved primarily through and epoché: the psychiatrist has to bracket all his illusions of objectivity, as well as any organicist categories, in order to approach a fellow human being. This perspective is adopted and yet surpassed by Franco Basaglia, the psychiatrist who reformed Italian psychiatric health care. Not only should the psychiatrist bracket his assumptions in order to avoid treating madness as a graft onto the nature of man, but also he has to fight the asylum, that physical and metaphorical space from which madness could live only grafted, according to Foucault, onto the world of reason. Therefore, if there is something like an identity of madness, from these three perspectives we understand that it has to be sought to a paradoxical return: a return from a state in which it is grafted; a return to a state in which it has never been.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: SKEPSI_1_1_2008_SFO
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > PB Modern Languages
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA790 Mental health
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Alvise Sforza Tarabochia
Date Deposited: 02 May 2013 13:15 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:11 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Sforza Tarabochia, Alvise.

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