Representing to intervene: the "ontopolitics" of early psychosis in the negotiation of mental health and illness in contemporary psychiatry
Stefan Reinsch (University of Lübeck)
Paper short abstract:
Early psychosis is a new label for being mentally healthy and at the same time having a strong probability of developing psychosis. We explore the normative and ontological aspects of the enactment of this label in debates between researchers and the daily practice of specialized consultations.
Paper long abstract:
Early psychosis is used today as a label for a condition of being mentally healthy and at the same time having a strong probability of developing a severe mental illness. It represents a space of liminality or, as we call it, a "grey zone" between pathology and health, illness and non illness. We understand this grey zone of early psychosis as a constitutive third space which brings stability to dichotomies in contemporary psychiatric and social practices, while being itself fraught with practical uncertainties. This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork in german speaking highly specialized psychiatry. It will explore how early psychosis is brought to life - or enacted - in two situations. First, in debates between researchers and second in the daily practice of specialized consultations. Through representing patients at risk for psychosis, early psychosis researcher and clinicians are concurrently creating a space to do research, a clinical category and a group of patients to be intervened on. To analyse the normative and ontological aspects of this process, we use the term ontonorm newly proposed by Mol (2013). We discuss how this analysis might be valuable in helping medical anthropologists to better understand the logics informing re-assembly of clinical knowledge, new technologies, patients as well as of illness/disease and mind/body distinctions in current psychiatry.
Repositioning health, illness and the body: the challenge of new theoretical approaches to medical anthropology