Yesterday I attended a creative meeting looking at creating art around the theme of hysteria, and the invitees were asked to talk a few minutes about their take on hysteria. This was my talk:
I look at hysteria two ways.
Firstly, I see hysteria as performance, applauded by psychiatry and society. Make your madness entertaining for sanity, make it a separate, strange phenomena for us. The body and mind might be at war with each other, but although we may sympathise, we will support that war and revel in our voyeurism.
Both my mind and body don’t feel they belong to me, I feel the solidity of neither. What I do feel is the fight between them. My body looks the way it does because of my mind.
Trauma was inflicted on my body, taught my brain to hate myself for it, which in turn taught my body to hate the mind.
My mind feels under constant threat. My body is a burden to me. The only time they can work together is through art.
Dualism is a stand off, when it should be a dance.
I use creativity to explore that conflict, and be the first footsteps of that dance.
The second way I look at it is as an angry woman.
The female body is not allowed to get angry, not allowed to protest, not allowed to be different, not allowed to be free from external control. Hysteria is easier to deal with than rage. If you say this woman is justifiably angry, what can you do, if you are part of a system that solicits that anger? You have to demean and pathologise, to make the person inferior, manageable, disempowered, so you can help her feel empowered, and less inferior. What are we going to do about psychiatry as social control? Blame it on the patriarchy; don’t put the blame on my pussy.
When I was on the ward once, I had an epiphany. Here were people screaming at the world that hurt them, but they were not allowed to. The aspiration was to be silent and passive whilst being fucked over. That is recovery.
It is about enforced silence so maybe it’s time to make some noise. Or give rage a camera, so it can shoot and shoot and shoot. Or dance and dance and dance.
I made connectiions at the meeting and look forward to the dance.
Posted by Dolly Sen, 10 July 2015
Last modified by Dolly Sen, 15 July 2015