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#1 | Back to Top12-11-2009 09:58:51 AM

Precious One
From: Boston metro area
Registered: 11-02-2006
Posts: 289

SKU and psychosis

I just found this in notes I took the last time I was working on a schizophrenia project for work.

From Hirsch SR, Weinberger DR, eds. Schizophrenia, 2nd ed.:

Conrad (1958), studying 107 young German soldiers, distinguished four stages of developing schizophrenia.
1 Trema, characterized by depression, anxiety, tension, irritability, and mysterious experiences.
2 The transition from trema to apopheny, which corresponds to the transition from the non-specific prodromal phase to incipient psychosis, is characterized by phenomena occurring without a visible cause.
3 In the third phase, which he called anastrophae, these new experiences were attributed to external causes; delusions and hallucinations. Reality control and insight into illness will be lost.
4 With full-blown psychosis, the stage of apocalypse has begun, which refers to the complete loss of structure in perception, experience, and thought.

After this psychotic stage the episode may remit in mental consolidation, with patients showing various degrees of functional impairment and residual symptoms. A rare outcome is a further increase in the severity of the psychosis and a transition of the apocalyptic into an often final stage called catastrophae, e.g. febrile catatonia, but modern treatment is capable of preventing this stage and its lethal course.

(Note that no one refers to Conrad and his stages any more in clinical practice.)

It was stage 4 that caught my attention, of course.  And then I started thinking about the four story arcs.

The Student Council arc as trema : depression, anxiety, tension, irritability, and, especially, mysterious experiences.

The Black Rose Saga as apopheny: a transition from the vague weirdness of the non-specific prodromal phase (Student Council) to phenomena occuring without a visible cause.  No one else experiences -- or seems to notice -- what's happening in the Black Rose Saga.  Mikage and Mamiya are near-invisible agents.

The Ohtori or Akio arc as anastrophae: new experiences attributed to external causes (like Akio).  Reality control and insight into the illness (the situation) are lost (to Akio).

And then, of course, the Apocalypse arc as, well, apocalypse.  Loss of structure in perception, experience, and thought.  Everything is upturned for Utena in this arc.  She's walking through a world without any basis in reality.

What do you think?  Is Utena psychotic?  Or is the anime an analogy to the process of psychosis?



#2 | Back to Top12-11-2009 10:06:20 AM

From: ...the space between your ears
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 1108

Re: SKU and psychosis

It certainly fits. Utena is great for Epileptic Trees.

I stopped seeking to be sought after. That wasn't being true to myself.
I want to become someone who can exercise power. I want to become a prince. - Ikuni



#3 | Back to Top12-11-2009 02:30:56 PM

no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328

Re: SKU and psychosis

Anthiena wrote:

It certainly fits. Utena is great for Epileptic Trees.

Which is just one click away from Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory, which includes SKU as an example.  Which of you clowns wrote the part about the penises? emot-rofl

Oops, sorry, serious thread deserves serious answer.  I think the first thing to observe is that there's nothing obviously psychotic about Utena's experiences in the structured way tohubohu laid out.  The Mikage arc was not a delusion, or at least not Utena's delusion; it "really happened," at least until it didn't anymore.  Phenomena occurred without a visible cause, but there were perfectly good invisible ones.  If noticing things happening without visible causes was a sign of incipient psychosis, I'd have to question my mental wellness every time my dogs barked at the darkness outside the patio at night.  The Akio Arc would show developing psychosis if Utena were misattributing the events of the Black Rose Arc to leprechauns or something, but she doesn't; she forgets all about it.  She doesn't lose control of her perception of reality; she has no delusions beyond the ones she started the show with, although she is under some illusions as a result of Akio's lies and seductions.  If that were a sign of psychosis, everyone who's ever been sweet-talked into bed would be psychotic.  As for apocalypse, it seems to me that the final arc is indeed characterized by a mental breakdown on Utena's part, but it's a breakdown followed rapidly by a reconstruction as Utena discovers her core values and acts on them in the final episodes.

If we want to worry about Utena's mental wellness, we should instead wonder about the inner tensions she comes to the academy with -- I want to find my prince, but I also want to be a prince, for example -- and how those evolve through the show.  The series might, however, be providing an example of a natural parallel between an individual becoming psychotic and an individual (Akio) manipulating another (Utena) by controlling their exposure to reality.

Last edited by satyreyes (12-11-2009 02:47:55 PM)



#4 | Back to Top12-11-2009 06:30:35 PM

Faceless Master
From: Yuma, Arizona (USA)
Registered: 11-26-2006
Posts: 8282

Re: SKU and psychosis

satyreyes wrote:

Which is just one click away from Everyone Is Jesus In Purgatory, which includes SKU as an example.  Which of you clowns wrote the part about the penises? emot-rofl

Five Internets says that OITL did it. emot-tongue

Roses have thorns to stop those who would dare deny their right to live.
Razara's Postulate: For every lover of lesbians out there, there is an equal and opposite attraction to Dippin' Dots.



#5 | Back to Top12-12-2009 12:52:11 PM

Miki Molester
From: Eugene, OR
Registered: 10-21-2009
Posts: 31

Re: SKU and psychosis

I think another way to formulate this question could be, rather than asking whether Utena herself is psychotic, asking whether Ohtori could be understood as a psychotic zone. One need only think of Freud's case study of Senatspräsident Schreber, whose psychosis was fueled and accompanied by extreme paranoia, which tends to be preceded by some degree of narcissism. The narcissistic subject fears persecution and becomes paranoid, and along the way, in the case of Schreber, became convinced that he was chosen by God to fulfill some sort of messianic role. (Is it improper to relate Schreber's delusion of becoming a woman to Utena's conviction of becoming a prince?) That aside, one of the defining traits in psychosis is the delimitation of the ego; by this I mean that the ego ceases to be a mediating space between the id and external world, but rather becomes fused with the external world, so that all thoughts and sensations which affect the subject's psyche are perceived as also occurring in the physical world around him. This is where the schizophrenic hallucinations appear. Rather than thinking something to himself, the psychotic subject believes there are disembodied voices speaking to him, because the line between self and other, self and world, has been either blurred or completely erased. Taking this into consideration, could we describe Ohtori as a psychotic space in which the limits of self and other/world are transgressed or dissolved? Or perhaps could we consider a psychotic space for specific characters (in particular Akio and Anthy)? I'm too tired to try to answer right now, but it's fun as hell to consider.

"The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism."
-Walter Benjamin



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