This profoundly thoughtful tract by Samia the nutty English Palestinian - and packed with personal experience - was written sometime in the mid 1980s and as a A4 photocopied sheet handed out in Kilburn, north London. It remains an extremely sane reflection counterposed to those growing banal scientistic tendencies limiting 'madness' to gene pools and DNA which, in the 1980s marked the onset of neoliberal economics. Later Samia was to help in a very sympathetic critique of Shulamith Firestone: The Fire, The Fury, The Madness: The Inspirational Magnanimous Despair of Shulamith Firestone
A FEARFUL SOCIETY
It seems generally accepted that there is an over-lap between Manic Depression and Schizophrenia or schizophrenic-type symptoms. The symptoms I refer to are inner voices and promptings plus hallucinations. If these symptoms can be linked to a relevant train of thought indulged in by the sufferer and in time disappear they are not necessarily straight schizophrenic symptoms.
When people are in a highly emotional state the emotion tends to colour and influence all other thoughts and events they experience. When we are in an elated mood or 'high' we automatically dismiss all negative thoughts and happenings and only concentrate on the good ones. In the same way while we are depressed all the bad or negative influences around us are absorbed and things which we formely found pleasing or neutral appear grey and dissatisfying.
During moments of extreme elation our senses are so transfixed it is possible to hallucinate which can be explained as the imagination taking us one step further beyond what is strictly tangible. When people are in a depressed state anxiety is usually present in varying degrees until there is sometimes more anxiety than depression. The reason anxiety and depression go hand in hand seems logical yet is not easily explained, but if we accept that elation is the opposite to depression and while we are 'high' we are full of confidence and positive thoughts, then it follows that when depressed we indulge in negative thoughts, fears and anxieties.
While in the grips of anxiety we are paralysed with fear. We become fatalistic and there is nothing we can do to ward off our impending doom. The only action we can take to 'do' something about our terrible position is to appease the powers that be. Thus we enter into one of the oldest rituals known to pagan man and try to please some unseen all-knowing god or power, the last resort of desperate man. We wear a 'hair shirt' of the mind, make mental and physical sacrifices, keep crucifying and torturing ourselves with unlivable thoughts to prove we are suffering. We participate in rites and rituals; inner voicings and promptings tell us to twist vases and pictures into certain positions, leave objects on the table at funny angles. The imagination holds nothing but images of pain and suffering causing physical panic attacks during which we cannot breathe. We become super-sensitive and feel almost plugged into the universe as we search for signs and symbols from 'the gods'.
Most of the fears and anxieties are a possibility though not necessarily a likelihood. The fears are usually of a serious nature but people can be so overcome with anxiety smaller fears take on momentous proportions.
At the moment stress and worry seem to be at epidemic proportions among parts of society. It's to do with fear of losing homes, jobs, benefits, pensions, health care through government legislation etc plus the pressures of living in a more violent, less caring, sometimes hostile society.
A group of doctors from a famous London hospital recently did research into the amount of mentally ill people there were among 'down and outs' in a large refuge for the homeless. The doctors recorded a staggeringly high number of mentally ill men especially schizophrenics, or people with schizophrenic-type symptoms. Of course much of this high figure can be explained by the new practise of 'community care' whereby patients are taken out of the asylums and absorbed back into the community, and end up on the pavement. As I said this accounts for much of the high number but is it the only answer? Is not government legislation and the hostile, isolative atmosphere they have created causing a fearful anxious schizophrenic-prone society.