Schizophrenia, modernity, postmodernity

Angela Woods

in The Sublime Object of Psychiatry

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199583959
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754692 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Schizophrenia, modernity, postmodernity

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The first task of this chapter is to discuss the relationship between Sass’s critique of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and antipsychiatry, and my reading of the schizophrenic sublime. I then elaborate the theoretical and metatheoretical originality of his account of schizophrenia.1 As I will argue, Sass’s nuanced analysis resolutely resists repeating or reinforcing any association between schizophrenia and sublimity; rather than merely opposing or inverting the dominant paradigm, his model remains exterior to its logic. We then return to an issue foregrounded by the antipsychiatry movement, namely, schizophrenia’s relationship to modern culture and subjectivity. Sass’s argument—that there are strong affinities between madness, modernism, and modernity—is certainly persuasive, but his assertion of a contiguous relationship between modernism and postmodernism, modernity and postmodernity, is, I suggest, less so. Drawing on Zygmunt Bauman’s sociological studies of the substantive structural differences between modernity and postmodernity (or ‘liquid modernity’), in particular his analysis of the shift from a panoptic to a consumerist regime of the self, I will argue that the affinities Sass identifies between modernity and schizophrenia invite reassessment and reconceptualization for the postmodern era.

Chapter.  9036 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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