Accepted Paper:

The performative self-construction of people with mental disorders  


Hiroshi Sugimoto

Paper short abstract:

This study aimed to clarify how individuals with mental disorders form self-constructions. Performers express experiences through activities like reading poems. The performative expression of experience is not a representation of failure of self-acceptance but a way of self-construction.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of this study was to clarify how people with mental disorders form their self-constructions through performance activities, including music. These individuals perform their experiences mainly by reading their own poems accompanied by music. The contents of the poem do not necessarily represent the experience itself. They are sometimes works of fiction, and the performers sometimes put more weight on performativity than on the expression of the experience itself. People with illnesses or disorders often injure themselves; therefore, it is necessary to reconstruct their identities (Corbin and Strauss 1985). Although admitting self is generally regarded as being truly desirable, performers use fiction and performances to express themselves. The way of expression should not be regarded as a failure of self-construction; rather, it should be regarded as the knowledge and skill of accessing experience deeply and continually. It is difficult for these individuals to accept that they have an illness, but performance activities enable them to accept themselves indirectly through the act of performing. They can adjust the balance of weight of performance versus expressing the experience itself, depending on their intention or the degree of acceptance of self. People with mental disorders can form self-constructions through activities, including musical performances or poetry reading. Performative self-construction is not thought to be pathologic; rather, it is a way to build knowledge or gain skills in order to access the self.

Panel P114
Anthropology of music, popular music scenes, performance practices and challenges of the present