THE DON QUIXOTE OF PSYCHIATRY (1919)

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He thus gives himself a new name and dons the armour that invests him as the knight-errant Don Quixote. Columbia University Libraries Digitizing Sponsor: Clevenger, is, as stated by theauthor, intended to direct attention to atrocities, continued until this day againstthe most helpless of human beings, it has a most commendable object, but it isdifficult to understand how the author reconciles his expressed purpose with thesatirizing—expressed mildly—of so many eminent members of the medical profes-sion, most of whom have crossed the Great Divide, thus doing violence to that gen-erally heeded maxim: Among the candidates are the following: Support Center Support Center. This influence of literature and, indeed, of language after all, language speaks to us, as Heidegger would say , is a human condition, as is also perhaps a certain element of madness.

For the time being it suffices to say that the melancholy corresponds to aesthetics, and thus to artifice —which does not mean, of course, that it is not a real experience, only that there is no experience without aesthetics regardless of culture , nor subjective reality that is not constructed even though it be by the name it is given. In the case of Don Quixote, this style or form adopted by his melancholy is taken chiefly from Amadis de Gaule, his model.

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The experience of life, and particularly, in what concerns us here, the experience of desire, does not spring from some supposed self-originating source as we are frequently led to believe by romantic novels , but is taken from the desire of others, desiring what is desired by others. The novel intercalated in Don Quixote I, , El curioso impertinente, is a paradigmatic construction of this process which, moreover, functions as an analogy of the main action. In this sense, the melancholy of Don Quixote, while not a comedy, is nevertheless artificial, though artificial here involves real construction, poiesis, poetry in this case the poetry of identity.

Consequently, mimetic melancholy, while it may involve imitation, is all the same a true melancholy. On this view, mimetic melancholy would be not a type of melancholy, but indeed the prototype of all melancholy, since melancholy would be a learned experience as all experiences are learned. The difference is in the fact that bad novels, like bad clinical manuals, would have us believe that melancholy is a natural experience as though it came directly from humours or neurons.

But melancholy does not emerge as teeth do. First of all, because it requires a culture that includes it as a model Bartra, Who would be melancholic if they did not know that melancholy existed? But melancholy in itself does not mean madness, and Don Quixote was mad. So, what is the solution?

Two highly interesting questions for our purposes arise from this theory: The relationship between fiction and reality raises the specific question of how Don Quixote comes to confuse the fiction of novels of chivalry with historical reality, to the extent of making himself "a knight-errant, roaming the world over in full armour and on horseback in quest of adventures, and putting in practice himself all that he had read of as being the usual practices of knights-errant" I, 1. The novel gives no more explanation than "what with little sleep and much reading, his brains got so dry that he lost his wits" I, 1 , which is undoubtedly in line with the treatises of the period.

Naturally, the novel needs no further explanation, and in what concerns us here the necessary explanation can come only from the novel itself. That of Don Quixote is, more specifically, an imitation of life taking as models fictional characters which he believed to be real. It is of little matter in this context whether the model comes from fiction or from history. Hamlet is probably more influential than the majority of real English people, while the model of Alexander the Great owes more to literary invention than to historical record.

And what can we say of the imitation of Christ? Is it not so that one only really loves the idea of love that one has? Where Don Quixote goes too far is in taking such fabulous models and trying to imitate them literally. And he tried to do so, moreover, in an artistic way, leading his life like a novel. Even so, in living his life like a work of art, Don Quixote is doing no more than following the aesthetic precepts of the times. Life as a work of art involves the protagonist being the free architect of him or herself Avalle-Arce, , which would be the destiny of the novel and of the modern individual Weiger, Apart from other highly important implications of this freedom of character among them the fact of an apparent independence from the author is that of the Quixotic freedom to go mad not to feign madness.

For the madness of Don Quixote is real while at the same time having much of the artificial. How can we characterize the madness of Don Quixote? Indeed, such analyses are somewhat ridiculous. His is a case in which mimesis confusing fiction with reality is taken to extremes, but a certain mimesis occurs even in those reading the novel today, insofar as they become involved in their reading.

Everyone who knows how to read, or even just to listen, will believe in fictions, even if it be because what is said is not always said from reality if indeed reality is not what people say, which would already situate us in some degree of Quixotic madness. Almost all the characters in Don Quixote are readers of chivalric novels, and to a greater or lesser degree do accept as real some sort of fiction.

Sancho himself, who has not read a book in his life, ends up becoming Quixotized. This influence of literature and, indeed, of language after all, language speaks to us, as Heidegger would say , is a human condition, as is also perhaps a certain element of madness. In fact, while all the characters in the novel may say that Don Quixote is mad, few are free of some degree of madness, and those who are free of it are guilty of a vulgar sensitivity.

Who sets the tone for normality? Sancho, apart from becoming Quixotized, is himself a carnivalesque figure. As for the priest, the barber and the bachelor, though reasonable men, they trust more in fiction to save Don Quixote than in sound reason. Of the innkeepers, Juan Palomeque believes in novels of chivalry I, What can we say of the Duke and Duchess, who live by appearances II, 30? And that would leave the housekeeper, the niece and the odd innkeeper and muleteer. But Don Quixote is also capable of displaying the greatest good sense, outside of his mania.

The Don Quixote of Psychiatry - Victor Robinson - Google Книги

We should understand this to mean, of course, without any other cause or reason than believing in what he had read, taking fiction as a model for life, and thus living life as a work of art Avalle-Arce, Naturally, literary madness implies believing in everything one reads and hears and sees on the screen , and is even more complete if one turns it into a way of life. Clearly, Don Quixote is more than a simple parody of chivalric novels, as we would have children believe.

The psychology that emerges from Don Quixote already has a name. As regards the personality as a work of art, we should not harbour aesthetic prejudices. Moreover, whatever the eventual result, the final "work" involves its ethic, so that we are talking not about mere superficial posturing, but indeed about a genuine attitude towards life.

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The Quixotic Principle is contained in the narrative as a root-metaphor for psychology Sarbin, and, specifically, for contextualism as a conceptual framework of psychology Sarbin, In any case, the narrative does not refer here to life as discourse, but rather to life as action or as continuous current of behaviours drama. Hence, drama is actually the most appropriate image of this conception Scheibe, The point is that life unfolds through action, with the contingencies that arise.

The Quixotic Principle provides, in the development of the literary character in the novel , the actual constructive principle of the person in life.

And this, for a start, raises two problems. One, within the novel, consists in the conjugation of the fictitious character with the person, also fictitious, but representing a greater reality suggesting that fiction is also constructed with realities. The other problem, between the novel and life, consists in the legitimacy of taking literary principles as valid principles for life suggesting that life is also constructed with fictions. This second problem can be solved, through Aristotle, by considering that the novel already incorporates life mimesis and contains more truth than history itself.

After all, history gives an account of what happened in a real case, and the novel tells of what could be, without limiting itself to a particular case. However, what most concerns us here is the first problem, that of the conjugation of the character with the person in the novel, even if the eventual interest lies in perceiving the constructive principle of the person in life. Given that we have to concern ourselves with Don Quixote, what we start out with is the nobleman Alonso Quijano, the origin of whose name we know little, not to mention his life.

We can speculate about the nature of a nobleman at the time, and about the identity of Alonso Quijano in particular. Thus, Don Quixote becomes the character and Alonso Quijano the original person a nobleman who launches himself as a knight-errant. Although both are literary characters, Don Quixote is more literary, not only because he is steeped in literature, but also because he is in fact fictitious feigned with respect to Alonso Quijano, who is closer to historical reality.

In any case, person and character are both him, even if they are not both the same thing. The person Alonso Quijano takes on a character Don Quixote and the character reworks the person. As Don Quixote would say, each is the child of his works. The comfortably settled nobleman Alonso Quijano begins by feigning the person he wants to be. He thus gives himself a new name and dons the armour that invests him as the knight-errant Don Quixote. His feigning is serious enough to lead the people he comes across to follow his game, with greater or lesser seriousness in the case of Sancho, with total seriousness.

But it so happens that Don Quixote triumphs and continues his adventures, until, with the same strategy taken more seriously, he is finally vanquished by the Knight of the White Moon, in reality the bachelor, who had already made a previous attempt II, It is worth pointing out in this regard that as the story progresses, Don Quixote is more deceived by others than by his own madness.

Victor Robinson

We should not forget that all the people in the second part of the book had read or heard tell of the first part, so that they already know his story. And real life is indeed far from immune to the deceit referred to here. In truth, whether we use the term deceit, politeness or political correctness is merely a question of style. Whatever the case, this feigning and pretence in Don Quixote do not cancel out the original person of Alonso Quijano, whom if anything they transform, as I shall argue. First of all, it should be borne in mind that Alonso Quijano remains present.

Thus, the retreats into the woods that Don Quixote makes from time to time for example, I, 28; II, 9 could be seen as a retreat from the public character to the person alone with themselves, which occurs when a failure casts doubt upon the effort invested in an enterprise. In this regard we might recall the numerous characters that Don Quixote himself finds hidden away in the woods Cardenio, Marcela , seeking refuge in their own person after a disappointment. In truth, more than an appearance, it would be a descent by Don Quixote to the principle of reality.

In this sense, we could say that the cave of Montesinos, among others possible interpretations, is also, and even above all, an allegory of the descent of the character to the person of origin. Thus, Don Quixote recovers somewhat the proportion between the ideal that guides his life and the modern world that imposes its reality. Although Don Quixote continues on his way, there begins a metamorphosis of the character which heralds the reappearance of Alonso Quijano.

Consequently, putting the character into practice does not cancel out the original person. Indeed, we might say that the person, in this case Alonso Quijano, is the condition of possibility of the character, and hence, its limits. However, the ups and downs of the character do not leave the person unaffected. The feigning and pretence lead to the forging of a change that transforms the person in such a way that nothing is any longer like before.

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Although, in the end, Don Quixote loses the wager of his life, he will not turn back into the same Alonso Quijano. A promise that means dying, as a final heroic act. Alonso Quijano dies through what remains in him of Don Quixote. He does not die as a poor nobleman, but as a defeated knight.

In reality, he lets himself die at the hand of melancholy, and his death is thus a thoroughly positive act.

Don Quixote

If his character were not forged by the efforts of the knight, he would remain at home looking after his hacienda, as his housekeeper wanted him to, or he would become the shepherd Quixotize, as Sancho would have wished. But recovering his sanity involves surrendering to melancholy and, in practice, to death: This duality manifests itself in many forms: In any case, the very notion of person already involves this dual aspect: Strictly speaking, we would be as many persons as the number of people we know.

It is not a question here of deceiving others which, of course, could be the case , but rather of the multi-faceted performance learned according to the context. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Summary [ edit ] Description Shobal Clevenger. The Don Quixote of psychiatry.

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