Summary: This paper centers on representations of madness, and specifically, the authorial role of those representations, asking the question: are authors limited to representing their own mental health in their literary projects? Critics of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003), have accused its author, Mark Haddon, of stealing the trope of autism for his commercial gain. Moreover, his representation of autism asserts the very order that the autistic subject has supposedly foreclosed.1 Applying the logic of the cultural economy of representation, wherein Haddon’s exploitation of a subject who is mad is a literary crime because Haddon, the author, is neurotypical, what do we make of a psychotic’s representation of neurotics in their literary oeuvre? I am thinking of James Joyce and his oeuvre, because his psychosis has been an issue since Carl Jung first identified that he had a form of schizophrenia, and Lacan followed up on that question of Joyce’s psychosis in Seminar XXIII. How could Joyce be a psychotic if he could write an apparently neurotypical story such as Ulysses? And yet, he did write the chaotic punning universe of Finnegan’s Wake, a project that one would think would affirm his psychosis. Lacan resists diagnosing Joyce and instead explores Joyce’s role of author in his sinthome. This paper does not resolve the debate around Joyce’s possible psychosis but uses the debate to highlight the problem arising from policing creative authority.
Throughout the twentieth century, autism has been variously interpreted and as a result has become a flexible signifier. Over the last decade, both the academic world and popular culture have paid particular attention to the self-expression of people living on the spectrum. On the occasion of the most recent exhibition in the Dr. Guislain Museum in Ghent, which put numerous autistic artists in the spotlight, Leni Van Goidsenhoven reflects on conceptual changes within autism discourse, the danger of the savant-rhetoric, cultural interventions and the category of “autistic art”. She moreover shows how Museum Guislain’s project experiments with autism and outsider art by incorporating playful elements.
This contribution sheds light on Françoise Dolto as an inspiring pioneer of preventive work with children. A question that informs our discussion is the extent to which “extramural psychoanalysis” can, or should, be creative. Two projects illustrate the inventiveness and the power of psychoanalysis beyond the boundaries of the classical cure. The first project, “Les Enfants du Jeudi”, in which choreographers work with autistic children, reveals how the “unspeakable” can manifest itself through music and dance. Our second project, “Villa Ou-ki”, demonstrates how parents and children can be held within, or evacuated out of, their symptom by applying short-term psychoanalytic interventions with the focus on the relational aspect in the context of childcare. We present these two projects referring to the four key theoretical aspects of Dolto, namely, the relational, the unconscious body-image, the play of desire, and respect with regards to the subject aspects. The ideas of Jean Laplanche are used as supplementary theoretical tools.
There are currently three main research trends on the disorder of autism. The first (theory of mind) supports the idea that autism is a deficit in the capacity to generate a theory of mind, which allows the child to develop social relationships (a reinterpretation of Kanner’s loneliness). This capacity is understood to be modular (J. Fodor). According to the second theory (theory of control), the autistic symptom of sameness as described by Kanner, is crucial, although these authors do not reject the theory of mind. The third theory based on lacanian thinking, proposes that autistic disturbances are caused by the subjects’ difficulty in knotting the imaginary, the symbolic and the real. We argue that this theory leads to more differentiated and precise therapeutic strategies.