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Wouter Kusters and the Philosophy of Madness

Kerome

Kerome

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I came across this article in Vrij Nederland about author Wouter Kusters which I thought deserved a post. He suffered two psychoses, ended up med free and wrote three books about it, in Dutch, not sure if they have been translated. They are called the Philosophy of Madness (in Dutch "Filosofie van de Waanzin") and some years ago Pure Madness ("Pure Waanzin: Een zoektocht naar de psychotische ervaring" and Alone ("Alleen: berichten uit de isoleercel").

Just to briefly summarise some things from the interview, he believes that the psychotic experience, far from being meaningless ramblings generated by a sick mind, has its own deep meaning, that it is a reflection of your fears and to some extent the subconscious mind without the barriers that usually impede it. Further, by calling it an illness and using that as an excuse for your behaviour you avoid taking ownership of its meaning.

He calls a psychosis a flight away from reality, because it has become unbearable in some way, but which opens you up to wider influences that are usually barricaded away behind the certainties of the waking mind.

He is largely sympathetic with anti psychiatry, which is quite strong in the Netherlands anyway, and argues against a lot of the principles of neurobiological psychiatry. The article made a real impression on me, he seems very insightful, I may look up his books.
 
SarahD

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That does sound interesting. Not too far from Mad in America.

I had a quick look on Amazon and found several of his books - in Dutch. I quite like his ideas as you have described them, especially as he has been through psychosis himself.

Oh and Kerome, how come your English is so good??
 
Kerome

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The books do sound good, I went and reserved a couple at the library. They don't have many copies and there were people waiting already, so I'm going to have to wait a while. He seems to be quite respected, he's a professor, has a PhD and things.

My English is good because my parents emigrated to the USA when I was young, and I spent many years in England before finally coming back to Holland a couple of years ago :) I'm properly bilingual and have an English Literature A Level even...
 
Kerome

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For those who are interested, the original interview which I read about him is online, in Dutch only I'm afraid, here:

Waanzin is Geen Ziekte
 
Kerome

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I've gotten hold of one of his books and am finding it very interesting. He writes about what happened to him internally during his psychosis, literally what he was thinking and doing, and alongside that presents his medical notes which he got hold of. It gives you a very immediate impression of how much interpretation there is in those notes, and how little the medical profession truly knows about what is going on in the head of a psychotic person. For example, there is one case where he is experiencing a great enlargement of his consciousness with visions and things, and the medical notes state "narrowing of consciousness and presence... Seems to be staring and doing nothing, not present."

Then later on he goes into more depth about what the psychosis means in terms of the mechanisms of his thinking. He is very familiar with the work of many psychologists, and so knows what tests have been done on people in psychosis, and uses this alongside his own experiences to build a theory of psychosis as a different kind of thinking, subject to far fewer of the usual constraints that we apply to our thoughts. It's good stuff, although the language is a bit stuffy and not always easy to read.
 
Kerome

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Have finally gotten hold of the main book, Filosofie van de Waanzin, or the Philosophy of Madness, from the library and am doing a bit of reading in it. It's massive, nearly a thousand pages of tiny text, and covers the subject of how psychosis seen from the eye of an actual psychotic relates to other areas of philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and so on. .

Throughout Kusters argues almost a Jungian standpoint, that the contents of psychosis do have a certain relevance to the psychotic and speak to his condition, which often leads him to contrasting viewpoints with other authors such as John Nelson, a transpersonal psychiatrist discussed in a section where I have just been reading. In such cases the book gives in depth both the standpoints of transpersonal psychiatry, and Wouter Kusters observations and arguments as to what part of it is correct or not.

It's a fascinating book containing a wealth of information and perspectives, which places Wouter Kusters ideas of psychosis as a new kind of thinking alongside the work of many other philosophers and thinkers. Unfortunately there is no way I'm going to be able to read it all in my two week library lend, and someone else has already requested the book so I can't even extend it. May have to buy this one in the end.
 
Gajolene

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Thanks for that information will have to look that one up myself Kerome. Does sound like a fascinating read. You folks here should start a book club page for MH books and Alternatives info.
 

cpuusage

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It's a fascinating book containing a wealth of information and perspectives, which places Wouter Kusters ideas of psychosis as a new kind of thinking alongside the work of many other philosophers and thinkers.
Sounds great. i couldn't find an English translation?
 
Kerome

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It's been out for about a year and a half, maybe there isn't one yet. I did a quick Google search and there was no mention of an English translation.
 
W

Wouter K

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Hi Kerome and others,

Thanks for the nice comments on my book! - I just wandered in here, when googling myself, and want to say:
Yes! I would like to have my book translated into English! But that is quite a job, and costs a lot of money when doing it properly. But me and my editor are trying to get funds.

Cheers,

Wouter
 
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cpuusage

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Hi Kerome and others,

Thanks for the nice comments on my book! - I just wandered in here, when googling myself, and want to say:
Yes! I would like to have my book translated into English! But that is quite a job, and costs a lot of money when doing it properly. But me and my editor are trying to get funds.

Cheers,

Wouter
Welcome to the forum & i hope that you can stick around & join in with the discussions.

i hope that one day it is translated as i would like to read it.
 
Kerome

Kerome

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Hi Kerome and others,

Thanks for the nice comments on my book! - I just wandered in here, when googling myself, and want to say:
Yes! I would like to have my book translated into English! But that is quite a job, and costs a lot of money when doing it properly. But me and my editor are trying to get funds.

Cheers,

Wouter
Excellent! I am glad to see you have found this forum, it's a valuable resource and a nice community, and you are of course very welcome.
 
V

Viktoria

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Hi Wouter, your books look very interesting. I see that my local library has them all so I will definitely give them a read. I am writing a book myself about my experiences of psychosis and the reaction to it of psychiatry and hospitals.
I hope you find the funding to get your books translated as I think they will be interesting for a larger audience.
 
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