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Psychosis and Power: Threats to Democracy in…

Psychosis and Power: Threats to Democracy in the Self and the Group

by James M. Glass

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Glass's analysis bridges contemporary psychoanalytic and political theory and centers on case studies as well as small-group interactions at the hospital. Focusing on psychotic patients' own perceptions, he describes the loss of their ability to participate in consensual reality and to sustain the respect for rights and tolerance of differences which make reciprocal relationships possible. Their experience, Glass maintains, vividly illuminates larger political issues and points, in particular, to the psychotic bases of political tyranny. Pursuing omnipotence, closing off dialogue, creating scapegoats, and promoting violence - the tyrant elevates to matters of public policy those patterns of behavior that in an individual would be considered psychotic. Glass finds not only scenarios of domination in the hospital, but also stories of individuals who are able to reestablish the social contract. As essential to the health of the nation as to the health of each citizen, he suggests, is the constant struggle to maintain reciprocal forms of power that defuse the solipsistic impulses of the self. In the world of psychosis, the rejected misfit becomes a revered leader; the powerless dominates galaxies. Exploring a microcosm of tyranny within the psychotic self, James Glass maps the psychological origins of domination. As he documents forms of social participation that promote the healing of individual psychotics, Glass considers whether the practice of democracy itself might diminish the threat of obsessive power. Psychosis and Power is the final book in an innovative series examining through the lens of mental disorder the relationship between psychological experience and political life. As in two earlier books - Private Terror/Public Life: Psychosis and the Politics of Community and Shattered Selves: Multiple Personality in a Postmodern World - Glass bases his discussion on the first-hand accounts of patients at the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, Maryland.… (more)

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