Philosophy Hammer
Philosophy, Economics, Politics & Psychology Tested with a Hammer

45: Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari part V:

Summary by: Jeff McLaren

         The authors made no secret of their disdain for Freudian psychoanalysis and the harm they believe his thought has caused. The authors proposed a solution which they called schizoanalysis.
         Where Freud believed in a certain duality of mind and body, the authors accept only a purely materialistic psychology (Q1).
         Freudians believe that all our psychological temperaments, characteristics and problems began in childhood fantasy: desiring and investing in what we lack. The authors claim that investment is sound but not for lack rather investment is part of the nature of our being. We desire to regulate flows, partial objects and syntheses (Q2).
         Freudians claim civilization requires the repression of fantasy and the sublimation of desire. The authors claim that all investment (of which Freud's repression and sublimation are two) results in paranoia and schizophrenia (Q3).
         The Task of Schizoanalysis
         “The first positive task consists of discovering in a subject the nature, the formation or the functioning of his desiring-machines, independently of any interpretations.” A desiring-machine is anything that draws a flow, regulates the flow and expels the flow. Your desiring-machines are anything that you control that allows you to draw a flow, regulate the flow and expel the flow (Q4).
         In analyzing desiring-machines the authors claim that we have to identify their: “...three parts: the working parts [the smaller scale machines], the immobile motor [the physical object or whole], the adjacent part [the connections it has]; their three forms of energy: Libido [withdrawal or starting energy], Numen [detachment or inscribing energy], and Voluptas [residual or blissful energy]; and their three syntheses: the connective syntheses of partial objects and flows [the new machines arising out of new connections], the disjunctive syntheses of singularities and chains [the responses of breaking machines]and the conjunctive syntheses of intensities and becomings [the new paths of flows and partial machines].” (Q5)
         Investments and Their Price
         From the authors' perspective it is very difficult to give up anything because we are built to regulate flows: it is what we desire. Our desire is to be plugged into and regulating a flow. However as we plug into more and more flows more and more of our energy is invested in the flow. Every time we plug into a flow we are in a way different: one way that we are different is in the new forms of tension between competing flows that new flows initiate. We experience increasing amounts of paranoia and schizophrenia when we invest in a new flow regulating machine: paranoia and schizophrenia are the body's natural mechanizes to regulate flows (Q6). The author's hint that in the modern world we have access to so many flows that we are reaching the limits of what is humanly possible to handle (Q7)(Q8).
         The price of our modern capitalist society is perpetually increasing access to more and more flows. Or in other words the price of our modern capitalist society is perpetually increasing signs of paranoia and schizophrenia (Q9).
         Q1 Modern Freudians claim that the Id, Ego and Superego are in the mind separate from the body in an analogous way as software is separate from hardware. We cannot see the Id, Ego and Superego by analyzing the brain anymore than we can see the software in a computer by analyzing the hardware. The authors claim that there is no need for positing such fictions because there is only brain: the mind is a heuristic to describe certain aspects of the brain's functions. Changes in brain chemistry and/or the environment can produce and explain all the range of behavior that Freudians attribute to the Id, Ego and Superego. Are either of these claims believable? Which of these claims sounds more reasonable to you?
         Q2 For Freudians we invest our time and energy in fantasy (movies, books, delusions and daydreams). The authors claim that we invest our time and energy in regulating the flows we have access to through social activity. Outwardly both are accurate from their own perspective; but which one sounds more believable or more accurate?
         Q3 The authors claim that Freud's analysis is just one special and case of their analysis. Fantasy's repression and the sublimation of desire are one one we cope with paranoia and schizophrenia not the only way. Could the reverse be true: fantasy and sublimation are a way we deal with paranoia & schizophrenia? Do you believe that the authors are correct in that their theory is much more general than Freud's?
         Q4 Some examples of desiring-machines: 1) your body is full of them: your eyes draw a flow of light, regulate it and expel a flow of information and every organ in your body does something similar. 2) Your cellphone, computer and any other tools which draw a flow of electricity, regulate it and expel images, information or some other product. 3) Your job or hobbies which take in a flow of energy and/or money, act on some things and expel a finished product or money. Do you see any benefit to identifying and cataloging the nature, formation and functioning of these social investments?
         Q5 Consider 1) Stevie: He has a new iPhone on which he spends 4 hours everyday. His iPhone is made up of hundreds of little parts (working parts) that function together as one unit (immobile motor) and that makes Stevie spend time and money (the adjacent parts) looking at and playing with it. Consider 2) Jacky who is in love with Jillian and can't think of anything else. Jacky is full of libidinal energy; when he spends money or resources on Jillian some of the libidinal energy is transformed into Numenal energy as it flows out of him; as Jacky daydreams some of the libidinal energy is transformed into Voluptal energy leaving him in a blissful and happy state. Consider 3) Marky: he has just started up a facebook account. He has formed a new network that didn't exist before (a connective synthesis); his grandmother is a little upset because her e-mails are not being read as often because he does not check his e-mail as often as before (a disjunctive synthesis); Now Marky spends more time on facebook than he ever did on his e-mails with the consequence that his time for other things is reduced (a conjunctive synthesis). By analyzing in this way the authors claim we get a much more complete and value neutral sense of how someone is living their life. Do you accept this?
         Q6 When people invest in the stock market they experience a fear of loss (a type of paranoia) and they act very differently when their stock is up compared to when it is down (schizophrenia) – this is THE natural response. Whenever we take on a new responsibility or get a new machine we have to make investments of time, effort, money, etc. These investments also induce the natural response: paranoia and schizophrenia. They are the solution which makes us work most effectively in the world. Do you accept that paranoia and schizophrenia are natural and right? Can we ever have too much paranoia and schizophrenia?
         Q7 The authors believe that there are more and more mental illnesses today than ever before because there is a greater diversity of flows and investments that we can make. But the “mental illnesses” are not exactly mental illnesses. In reality they are our bodies' ways of coping with the increases in the stress of the modern world; our bodies' ways of coping with paranoia and schizophrenia (only from one point of view can they be considered as mental illnesses – the psychiatric view). Do you believe that there are more mental illnesses today than in the past? Is it believable that mentally ill patients are coping with reality in a different way than the rest of us – and that this way is not necessarily better or worse than the way the rest of us cope with reality?
         Q8 Do you ever feel that you have too much on your plate? If so do you think that disconnecting from some of your flows would make you feel better? Consider for a moment what it would take for you to disconnect from some of your flows. How easy is it to act on that? Would you be better off with fewer connections to things and/or people? The authors' suggest that we are all collectively closer to being crazy or committing suicide than previous generations. Do you see any truth there or are they crazy? How close are you to going crazy or committing suicide?
         Q9 Do you believe the authors' analysis of the nature of our capitalist society? Are the conveniences and beauty of the society worth the psychological costs? Do you think your kids will be more plugged in and at the same time more mentally ill than you?

© 2008 - 2017, James Jeff McLaren