EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W123)

Ambiguous states of mind and crises in their management: imaginative approaches to the self and emotions in four postindustrial societies

Location Arts Classhall A
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenor

Agita Luse (Riga Stradiņš University) email
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Long Abstract

The workshop brings together representatives of medical, political and feminist anthropology to discuss trends, recently observed in four postindustrial societies, in dealing with the states of mind and feeling that occupy the borderland between the routinely familiar and the worryingly uncertain, the ordinary and the idiosyncratic. Traditionally, some of the reported states have been framed as symptoms of the individual's mental abnormality and delegated to psychiatry for treatment. Others have more readily clashed with politico-ideological expectations and/or been subject to moral critique. Five ethnographic studies from Canada, Denmark, France, and Latvia, however, document the ways in which a number of such ambiguous modes of perception and feeling are currently being redefined. The conventional approaches to them undergo a crisis and are challenged by more imaginative solutions that seek to balance (at times conflicting) values of authenticity of feeling and meaningful communication with the others.

Discussant: Livia Velpry and Katerina Ferkov

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The cunning of communication: human resources management, the flexible self and the invention of 'work rage'

Author: Kim Turcot DiFruscia (Université de Montréal)  email
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Long Abstract

In the present communication, I wish to discuss the recent appearance of the concept of "work rage" in human resources management and work therapy discourses, and map how the emergence of this concept corresponds to a transformation in the neoliberal understanding of the place of emotions in conceptions of selfhood. As it reveals the limits of communicational ethics and its dual demand for an authentic and flexible self, "work rage" is paradoxically presented and used by human resources managers and work therapists both as a radical exception to the communicational ethics and as its necessary residue. Drawing from E. Povinelli's critique of the legitimization of deliberative rationality's exceptionalism as externalisation of internal limits, I will argue that the invention of "work rage" simultaneously puts into question the legitimacy of the demand for authenticity of self in the work place and that of a communicational management of emotions in crisis. The fieldwork from which this communication emanates is conducted in private international HMR firms and firm branches in Canada with human resources managers and work therapists.

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Listening to French workers's suffering: how to pacify the crisis in labour management

Author: Samuel Leze (ENS Lyon)  email
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Long Abstract

France is now facing a social transition that disrupts the organization of labor and economy: this is done via the so called "French exception". The theme "suffering in the workplace" has become a political issue following a spate of suicides in France Telecom in 2009 (32 for two years by December 2009). The "value of work" campaign theme of the current French president was suddenly threatened.

The aim of my paper written from the perspective of political anthropology is to analyze what is at stake in the crisis management of French workers' mental health. Based on a multi-sited ethnography where psychiatrists are implicated, I study a number of proposed solutions to the problem: tools designed to implement mental health expertise, emergence of the concept of psychosocial risk within French companies, techniques elaborated to overcome employees' "psychological resistance" to transfer and helping them "mourn" the parting from the old work organization, and the paradoxical way in which the problem has been demedicalized by the Department of Labor.

From medicalization to psychologization: coping with voice hearing in self-help groups in Denmark

Author: Sidsel Busch (University of Copenhagen)  email
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Long Abstract

The hearing voices experience primarily appears as a diagnostic measure of serious mental illness in need of medical treatment. With this paper I would like to offer an example of how popular ideas about psychology and, in particular, a cultural idea about trauma, have been adopted by a user movement who is radically trying to change the status of voice hearing.

The matter in question is the international Hearing Voices Network. This network sets up self-help groups to provide a space within which people can focus on their voices, discuss and give meaning to what they are saying and find ways to influence and improve their experience of voice hearing.

In this paper I would like to explore social and cultural aspects of voice-hearers strive to cope, and show the significance and function of the psychological framework in this process.

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The crisis of French psychiatry through the case of autism

Author: Céline Borelle (PACTE, IEP Grenoble)  email
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Long Abstract

The associations of parents with an autistic child emerging in the nineties have rejected the dominant psychoanalytic approach as making the mother responsible for the child's disorder. They have been promoting the definition of autism as a neurological and cognitive disorder that implies disability. They refuse to consider autism as a mental disorder that should be cured in psychiatric institutions and propose alternative ways of caring for autistic children inspired by behavioural and educative methods imported from the United States. Some parents consider that those methods are more efficient in terms of normalizing the child's behaviours and they value the fact that they can get implied in their child's care. Through analyzing trajectories of parents with an autistic child, we intend to show how the psychiatrists are questioned in their conceptions and practices, how conflict may emerge between different approaches and how practical arrangements of care are imagined. The case of autism reveals that French psychiatry is confronted with the lost of its monopoly over the psychiatric field's ordering.

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New ideologies versus old practices? The politics of being mentally ill in Latvia

Author: Agita Luse (Riga Stradiņš University)  email
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Long Abstract

Psychiatric patients' voices have only recently started, mostly through advocacy organizations, reaching a wider audience in Latvia. Since stigma has traditionally surrounded mental distress, Latvian service users have always been wary of defending their interests publicly. The circumstances seemed to change as the country was preparing to join the EU: a policy of social integration tailored to the European guidelines needed to be in place by 2004. An ideological framework was created for social integration of marginalized groups, including sufferers from mental disorders. How are the chronically ill responding to these developments? Are they imagining a different future for themselves now? To what extent have the new ideologies engendered novel practices? The paper aims to answer these questions drawing on a qualitative study that comprised interviews with patients and their carers and participant observation/listening in advocacy organizations

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.