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Nature

Inmate takes over the asylum

One Republican senator said after the historically “extraordinary” unpresidential press conference this week, “He (@realDonaldTrump) should do this with a therapist, not with the country” (The Hill). The occasion came across as an open and public catharsis. The rest of the world got drenched in the outpourings of his singularly troubled unconscious.

Long term care institutions (asylums) for psychiatric patients are mostly a thing of the past in the USA, UK and elsewhere. They have come to stand for an oppressive bygone age where “difficult” people were locked away — particularly depicted in comics, dramas and films. The term “asylum” is now usually reserved as a safe place for political refugees. “Sanctuary” sounds even better, and apparently some cities in the US set themselves up as “sanctuary cities,” now under threat. It seems that the troubled demagogue bearing his soul at the press conference is the one adding to the woes of those genuinely seeking  asylum.

I’m drawn to sanctuary as it’s one of the characterisations of home, garden and nature. Nature settings provide spaces not just for protection, but to restore, recover and prepare for whatever is to come. See blog post: Refuge.

The current situation of the US leadership causes disquiet for many, if not stress. Even before the election, therapists reported increased distress amongst people who were emotionally vulnerable, in particular due to the language used by the soon-to-be president (Time).

The rest of us look to humour and satire as our safe place. By all accounts satire is undergoing a resurgence (Guardian). Thank goodness for the relentless media and the channels of sanity through which we still find reasons to laugh — and through which to channel our anxieties.

Some US satirist-therapists worth a look on YouTube: Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Bill Maher and the SNL (Saturday Night Live) team.

Stress test

EEG. Some random data generated while trying out the Emotiv Insight gear and smartphone app …

eeg_2

Egg …

egg_2

Bibliography

  • DeNora, Tia. 2013. Music Asylums: Wellbeing Through Music in Everyday Life. Farnham, England: Ashgate
  • Foucault, Michel. 1964. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. London: Vintage
  • Goffman, Erving. 2007. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transactions. First published in 1961.

About Richard Coyne

The cultural, social and spatial implications of computers and pervasive digital media spark my interest ... enjoy architecture, writing, designing, philosophy, coding and media mashups.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Inmate takes over the asylum

  1. Astute observations, Richard, and great recommendations for satire. When I can’t laugh in relief anymore, I go into my garden for sanctuary.

    Posted by composerinthegarden | February 18, 2017, 2:27 pm

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  1. Pingback: Politics as art | Reflections on Technology, Media & Culture - April 29, 2017

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