Kerstin Kempker
Dear/Expensive Lack of Understanding: The Language of Madness and the Response of Psychiatry

(= Teure Verständnislosigkeit – Die Sprache der Verrücktheit und die Entgegnung der Psychiatrie)

Kerstin Kempker Closing word by Thilo von Trotha, 128 pages, 18 illustrations, 15 x 21 cm, ISBN 978-3-925931-04-8. Berlin: Peter Lehmann Publishing 1991. Published in the German language! € 7.90 / Selling price in CHF / Selling price in other currencies / instantly deliverable / Order No. 4 for the Pfeil Order form [Please mention the order no. 4 when you fill in the order form]

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"What drives people mad? What is the reason, that people don't go mad? I am particularly interested in the second question, less frequently asked." At their spots of touch Kerstin Kempker brings to speak the psychiatry, that ist setting limits, and the border-crossing world of madness. She uses the art of the collage, to let clash literary, philosophical, psychiatric as well as antipsychiatric discussions, which usually are held separately. Just the literary voices – such as Ingeborg Bachmann, Antonin Artaud, Sylvia Plath, Unica Zuern, Robert Walser – show: the anachronistic and non-mitigated observations, perceptions and manifestations can be a skill, which, indeed, has its price, but has nothing to do with illness. Price of madness is the risk of psychiatrisation and the loss of the mutual language; price of adaption nevertheless would be the abandonment of one's identity.


Kerstin Kempker In part 1, "Language and Power", Kerstin Kempker (see photo) lets describe psychiatrists the functions of their labelings; in part 2, "Language in No Man's Land", she is searching for other sides of reality. She uses literary and philosophical quotations and statements from people which are labeled psychiatrically. In a frightening way it becomes clear how strange and uncomprehending the psychiatric thinking is opposed to the world of madness, and how unfounded it presumes to judge its object and ›heals‹ it even with chemicals. The opponents in this book are not ›the bad psychiatrists‹ and ›the poor socially damaged victims‹, but – much more exciting – the psychiatric logic and the mad obstinacy. "Dear incomprehension, to you finally I shall owe being myself." This quotation of Samuel Beckett's "The Nameless" provided the title of the carefully designed book, and Kerstin Kempker recapitulates: As a dear good and a great value – the mad, the folly, the misunderstood doesn't want to be understood by everyone, at all costs. For proper reasons it is on its guard. The text includes statements of inmates of madhouses and of Franca Basaglia-Ongaro, David Cooper, Michel Foucault, Erving Goffman, Ronald D. Laing, Thomas S. Szasz and Paul Watzlawick, among others. It provokes thinking lateral, for questioning the matter of course; it doesn't want to deliver answers.