It begins with AIDS, our master teacher on illness and dying. The first responders, family, friends or lovers, become caregivers…not by choice. Values are tested. Mothers defy husbands, church, and community to care for their sons…or not. In the US, one man, Cleve Jones, living in San Francisco, makes his grief public. The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is born. Calling it a quilt activates the women. Many panels are made at home, privately, using ancient skills. With quiet, steadfast love, women stitch. Feminine power is released. Then each panel joins another publicly. I am a quilter. I go on this journey of terror and grief. I translate thoughts onto fabric. I listen to the stories as we stitch. I cry alongside others for over ten years. They teach me what it feels like to be loved. As I travel with the Quilt, stories are shared. I receive new ones as hearts open. Professional caregivers deal with the physical complexities of the disease and share their knowledge. But if kept in the thought realm attitudes don’t change. When the heart is engaged through story, everything shifts. Years pass. I am asked to write the stories down, but resist for many years. I keep my focus on the direct, emotional experience the Quilt elicits. One evening I write, ‘Once upon a time and not very long ago…’ What is this? The emotional response of a direct experience is duplicated in the written word by fairy tale! They both activate the heart. Love is not a thought. ‘Once upon a time not very long ago Queen Eladora lived in the land of Meld. She grew up in a palace surrounded by many, yet she was very lonely. One day…’ A new, nature-based story unfolds…the feminine. I am awake.
Deborah Eve Freedman
Andrea-Mariana Marian and Valeriu Budeanu
Romania is in the third quarter of recession recorded since the beginning of 2014 and the Romanian economy has not yet recovered due to the effects of the financial crisis initiated in my country since 2009. The number of the Romanian companies that are still operating shrinks continuously. The fiscal measures launched by the government empowered in 2012 have not produced the expected effects, as the fiscal authorities locked the bank accounts of the companies that are recoding unpaid debts to the state budget, paralyzing the blood system of the economy. An important effect is also the reduction of the liquidities necessary for the payment of the employees’ wages – which can become a demotivating factor inside the company. In this context, we believe that an analysis of how individuals assign different aspects that make them happy or unhappy at work can provide information on the motivation or lack of motivation of the employees. Our research is based on examining the interviews provided by current and former employees, managers and shareholders of Romanian or foreign owned companies that operate in Romania. The analysis of the interviews revealed the employees framing: what is the link between happiness/unhappiness and work? Also, we have tried to find answers about how the employers can develop an organizational culture in which happiness is authentic. In the same time, we have analysed which is the link between happiness/unhappiness and the working place depicted in the scientific literature.
Maria Schlachter and David Rastas
Art can essentially disturb those with even the tightest grip on reality, temporarily removing the mask of sanity. The reason why the experience of art is able to give us an impression of what it must be like to be mad, is that it activates our imagination in such a way as to launch into the unknown. What we contemplate in contemporary art often reveals more about who we are, how we think and what brings us here than revealing an objective meaning present in the artwork. This chapter will discuss the potential for a crossover of psychotic symptoms and features of a mystical experience. In order to demonstrate how art can be a trigger for changing perceptions of reality, a series of installations of contemporary art in churches will be discussed. Art can be a comfort for the disturbed and disturbance for the comforted. Art can simulate the sensations and provoke a similar overwhelming of the mind available to those affected by any of the common features of religious madness or symptoms of psychotic disorder. As much as Art is a Sanctuary for the Mad, it also offers a glimpse of madness to those who have become comfortable in their freedom from having to question their experience of reality.
Monte Verità and Glastonbury are two significant representatives of the ‘alternative wave’ that has been developing in Europe from the beginning of the 20th century. Rooted in the 19th-century Romantic rhetoric, it nowadays survives within the New Age culture. The alternative community and later sanatorium Monte Verità, ‘Mountain of Truth’ (Switzerland), founded in 1900, became a meeting point for naturism, anarchism, occultism, theosophy (‘Eranos’), and the avant-garde during the first half of the 20th century. Just the same, the Christian pilgrim place Glastonbury (England) has gathered mystics, Hippies, New Pagans, Ley-Line Hunters and New Agers, especially since the 1970s. So called ‘alternative’ healing through ‘natural’ methods became an integral part of both programs. Their treatments ranged from air- and sunbaths, gardening and agriculture for self-sufficiency, vegetarian/vegan food, nudist gymnastics, yoga and Asian massage centres, homeopathy and energy-healing schools. Actually, both communities show the same conception of ‘ill-ness’: a symptom of the lost connection to ‘Mother Nature’, or rather to the primary source of being. Being a ‘matter’ of balance between macro- and microcosmic energies rather than of scientific calculation, the way to ‘well-being’ for the Western industrialized, capitalized, science-obsessed and stressed society is: ‘Back to Eden’ – to a lifestyle in harmony and cooperation with the ‘other-human’ source, beyond the profit-oriented approach. Still, over the years these ‘alternative’ isles of healing have experienced an increasing process of commercialization and medialization. Thanks to the local myths and narratives (the South myth for Monte Verità and the Celtic past for Glastonbury) used by advertisement, such ‘alternative’ businesses have become a great touristic resource for local economy. Both places constitute therefore a starting point to discuss: a) the ‘alternative’ ways of life that are becoming more and more popular; b) the related conceptions/representations of ‘ill-/well-ness’; c) the economization of such healing practices.
Madness in all its expressions has equally fascinated and terrified human beings across the ages. It is, therefore, unsurprising that madness has been a consistent topic of various cultural discourses and art-forms. Not only, however, is madness frequently represented in the arts, there also seems to be a connection between madness, imagination, and artistic geniality. The Hellenistic idea of the furor poeticus, a mixture of divine inspiration and poetic madness, marked only the beginning of this connection. The Romantic poets, for instance, abused substances to achieve altered states of mind - temporary madnesses - in order to reach greater heights of artistic prowess. The list of mad artists is abundant and includes names such as Vincent van Gogh and Sylvia Plath. Indeed, the connection between art and madness seems to be so self-evident that even Freud and Jung in their respective approaches to psychoanalysis described madness as a prerequisite for the artistic act. While madness and creativity is a thematic complex that is frequently explored in literature, Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Diary goes even further in its attempt to illustrate the connection. Not only is the protagonist of the novel, Misty, a failed artist, the text also skilfully blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction, between sanity and insanity. Everybody, characters and implied readers alike, seems to be insane, and when Misty returns to her art, inspiration comes at the cost of madness - a madness that simultaneously liberates and constrains her. While Misty finds new meaning in madness, she learns that not only is all art madness, but also that good art can result in it. Diary is, therefore, a prime example of the (fictional) exploration of the connection between art, inspiration, and madness that discusses the madness-art compound that has concerned so many authors in great depth.
This research aims to analyse how the body changes as a result of the development of a physical disability and how it affects the gender identity of the subject. Specifically, it seeks to investigate three areas: femininity and masculinity imaginaries, relationships and affective-sexual practices, and body image. It starts from the assumption that there is a gender difference which is key to understanding the experience of the subjects – women – in these three areas: the development of physical disability, experiencing more barriers to satisfactorily building and reshaping their emotional and sexual life, and sustaining a positive body selfconcept. In all these three areas womens' experiences differ from those of their male counterparts. Moreover, physical disability involves the transition from possessing a ‘valid’ body (capable, productive, and reproductive) to a ‘non-valid’ one (conceived as incompetent, unproductive, and non-reproductive). This research puts forward as a hypothesis that the resulting transformed bodies challenge the dichotomous model of a sex-gender binary as they do not meet the defining precepts of hegemonic masculinity and femininity. To test this hypothesis I applied a qualitative methodology: the body iteneraries of six subjects, three men and three women with spinal cord injury (SCI), were reviewed.
Andrew Shepherd, Caroline Sanders and Jenny Shaw
Experiences traditionally associated with madness, or psychosis, for example hearing voices or delusional belief, are increasingly being recognised within healthy populations. Such findings raise the possibility of madness existing on a continuum with other mental states. However, this is not in keeping with the application of classic diagnostic systems, commonly used by mental health services, which utilise categorical descriptions, including symptom lists, and a normative component in terms of impact on the individual’s capacity to maintain social roles. Such systems are atheoretical and risk stripping experiences of its phenomenological impact. In contrast, recent clinical guidance, such as Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia from the British Psychological Society, emphasises the importance of individual meaning in relation to experience and the pertinence of this in relation to working with individuals seeking clinical support. In distinction to diagnoses such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder, often referred to as major mental illness, the experiences of individuals in receipt of a personality disorder diagnosis sit more clearly at the frontier between madness and normality. Indeed the commonest such diagnosis, borderline personality disorder, was so named in recognition of its straddling the psychoanalytic divide between psychosis and neurosis. The experiences of individuals with personality disorder diagnoses may therefore offer a window and framework through which the division between sanity and madness can be viewed. To explore this phenomena in more detail a research study, underway at the University of Manchester, seeks to capture the lived experience of people with a personality disorder diagnosis; including the manner in which they make sense of their personal experience and seek help in relation to distress. Through the use of narrative interviews this study seeks to make sense of the conceptual space existing in the borderlands around madness; and so inform the manner in which mental distress can be understood.
‘It was this stupidity that was so outrageous. Eichmann was perfectly intelligent, but in this respect he was stupid. […] There’s nothing deep about it—nothing demonic! There’s simply the reluctance ever to imagine what the other person is experiencing’. These words by Hannah Arendt defined her concept of ‘banality of evil’, related to the extreme ease with which millions of human beings were murdered in Europe during the Nazi era, with the participation, the complicity, the indifference (the ‘not to see to not know’) of millions of individuals. Within this context, ‘stupidity’ refers to some people’s incapacity to think and judge, due to the absence of an internal dialogue with themselves, a condition that prevents the development of a real and deep awareness about their own and others’ interior experiences. Such psychological processes as incapacity to think, indifference, dehumanization might determine a general and catastrophic collapse of morality, along with crimes against humanity. Nowadays, worldwide conflicts, huge migratory movements, social inequality and injustice strain a peaceful coexistence among human beings. This chapter aims to show how the contemporary risks of the inability to think (due also to non-stop activities, such as social networking) and inadequate attention to others’ feelings must be countered by strong educational efforts. The threats of dehumanization and annihilation of human beings have not been eradicated, as shown by the renewed phenomenon of racism in Europe. Therefore, it becomes vitally important to educate individuals to develop awareness about human vulnerability and to exercise critical thinking and imagination, by reflecting and recognizing their own internal experiences, transforming states of mind into words. Thus they will be additionally provided with the capacity to comprehend those of others, preserving this ability in the presence of overwhelming mass phenomena.
How does deviant art affect the artist? Do artists knowingly break the law to create or does the slide from legal to illegal behaviour happen unconsciously? I explore the motivations behind the creation of deviant art, the public’s reaction to that art, and the potential creative and social impact on each artist. This research draws on primary sources, including interviews, digital curation, observation, and modelling. I will discuss the relationship between the artists’ work and the impact of the public’s reaction on each artistic persona and their place on the Duane Creative Deviancy Scale.
The African American discourse has frequently converged with that of disability studies as both seem to have much in common. However, the intersection of race, gender and disability is not additive, it points to forging multi-layered identities that must endure marginalization, pain and stigma on myriad levels. African Americans have been linked historically to disability since the time of slavery to justify their racial oppression and 19th-century slave narratives teem with such disabled characters. The African American canon continued to display disabled characters whose physical impairments symbolized the violence and institutionalized exclusion blacks have been subject to. Throughout the 20thcentury, disability in African American literature became a politicized metaphor for victimization and isolation, and grew into another oppressive social construction like race and gender. Published in 1980, Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters delineates a plethora of African American characters suffering from disabilities or illnesses. The novel focuses primarily on the healing of its traumatized protagonist Velma Henry and her sessions with Minnie Ransom the district healer. This chapter is trying to answer the following questions: how does Velma’s narration of her story help her therapeutically? Is the novel a narrative of overcoming or an expression of the protagonist’s alterity and otherness as a literary invalid? Is Velma’s disability from that perspective oppressive or liberating? Hegemonic systems of representation have featured a lot of mad women in the attic who are negatively pitiable and stereotypically undesirable, how does Bambara conceptualize and negotiate disability in her novel for an African American woman: is she racializing and gendering disability or does she conceive race and gender themselves as disabilities? And how does the black woman, who had long been seen as the ‘mule of the world’ to borrow the phrase of Zora Neale Hurston, handle her disability and express her pain?