Monday, August 20, 2007

"Out of contact"?

"Psychiatrists have failed to provide us with a systematic framework for identifying and describing the type of delict represented by psychotic behavior. At present there is a rather special and hardening language in psychiatry, involving terms such as 'flattened effect', 'posturing', 'manneristic movement', 'out of contact', and others, which solves the problem of having to write up clinical notes in a hurry but which provides the practitioner with a handful of thumbs. The moralistic language in the social sciences built around the incredible notion that persons should be in good, clear, direct or open communication with one another is, if anything, worse - as if communication were a pill one ought to swallow because it was good for the tummy.
Few professions, may I add, have so well been able to institutionalize, to sell on the social market, their own fantasies of what they were engaged in doing."

Erwin Goffman, Interaction Ritual, Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior, Pantheon Books, New York, 1967

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