|—||Gilles Deleuze, “Mediators”|
|—||Gilles Deleuze, “Mediators”|
Deleuze and Guattari introduce A Thousand Plateaus by outlining the concept of the rhizome (quoted from A Thousand Plateaus):
1 and 2: Principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be
3. Principle of multiplicity: only when the multiple is effectively treated as a substantive, “multiplicity” that it ceases to have any relation to the One
4. Principle of asignifying rupture: a rhizome may be broken, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines
5 and 6: Principles of cartography and decalcomania: a rhizome is not amenable to any structural or generative model; it is a “map and not a tracing
What does it say about the field, our culture and our beliefs about self and other that it seems so radical to graduate students to consider the client's experience?
- Julie Tilsen
|—||Foucault, Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life|
Narrative ideas are often promoted with promise of respectful, collaborative, multistoried, non-colonizing practice. Yet, precisely through a promise not to colonize, Narrative Therapy can achieve a normalizing and colonizing re-invigoration of familiar and abusive social beliefs (Fisher, 2005, 2008). This complexity is particularly present within the DVI field, where the “problems” are largely predetermined through a singular analysis of “dominant masculinity” and “gender power” (Fisher, 2012).
It's that whole singular analysis thing..
As part of a 2-day Advanced Training presented in partnership by Southern California Counseling Center and the Association of Batterers Intervention Programs, renowned Canadian Narrative Therapist Art Fisher, who focuses on community conversations about violence, returns to Los Angeles. He will be here all day on Friday, March 22, at a location to be determined soon. For all the details contact the SCCC. I hope to see you there. Some more info:
In Art Fisher’s work in the DVI sector, which includes a wealth of on-going, front-line
practice experience in the field, together with youths, adults, and diverse families, he has
become passionate about several issues, including:
• Citizen-Focused practice that investigates all operations of social power,
including our own
• Trauma-Informed responses to violence
• Transdisciplinary collaboration among workers, youths, adults and families
• Imbedded “Intervention”, situated within an intensively Preventative, Community
Using examples from Art’s work as well as the work of participants, the workshop will
offer collaborative, large group and small group practice explorations, around translating
these issues into everyday practice, within assessment, consulting conversations, team
work, peer supervision, community conversations, and anti-violence education. The
ongoing translation of these issues into practice within the non-profit Art Fisher directs
www.alternativesinstitute.com has significantly reduced stigma, and generated statistical
shifts in the past thirteen years from 1% voluntary community DVI participation to 60-
70% voluntary participation, and from annual rates of 30 referrals to 370-400 referrals.
|—||Bruno Latour, “Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame” or How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate (Via Shrinkrants)|
“The reason why we want to be cautious with any social explanation is for the simple fact that hidden variables have become packaged in such a way that there is no control window to check what is inside. Explaining in ‘instant sociology’ has become a cinch, much like ‘instant psychoanalysis’. Their accounts have become as impossible to probe and repair as a block-boxed electronic appliance. It’s because the very success of social explanations has rendered them so cheap that we now have to increase the cost and quality control on what counts as a hidden force.
-Bruno Latour (From Reassembling the Social)”
Yesterday I received an email from Dr. Andrew Cashin who resides and works in Australia. I had first contacted Dr. Cashin a couple of years ago when I found myself tasked to work with a young boy whom had been diagnosed with Autism. I immediately went searching for articles or sources for how to work from a narrative approach with people diagnosed with Autism. I found only one article and it was Dr. Cashin's. I used his article as a guide for my work and found it to be quite successful. The mother of the child was quite pleased with the work we did together and toward the end of our time together (they moved) told me that my client "had his best IEP meeting ever." After that I reached out to Dr. Cashin to ask him if he knew of other sources for my work and he was quite helpful and told me that they were starting some new work and that he would keep me informed.
Yesterday in his email he sent a new article that he authored with Graeme Browne, Joanne Bradbury, and Ann Mulde that was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing titled The Effectiveness of Narrative Therapy With Young People With Autism. The aim of this pilot study was to be the first step toward empirically determining whether narrative therapy is effective in helping young people with autism who present with emotional and behavioral problems. Being a pilot study the authors used a convenience sample of 10 young people with autism (10–16 years) to evaluate the effectiveness of five 1 hr sessions of narrative therapy conducted over 10 weeks. In the study the primary outcome measure was the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) but the study also used as secondary measures the Kessler-10 Scale of Psychological Distress (K-10), the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and a stress biomarker, the salivary cortisol to dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) ratio.
Well guess what he results were? Significant improvement in psychological distress identified through the K-10 was demonstrated. Significant improvement was identified on the Emotional Symptoms Scale of the SDQ. The cortisol:DHEA ratio was responsive and a power analysis indicated that further study is indicated with a larger sample. Leading to the conclusion Narrative therapy has merit as an intervention with young people with autism and of course further research is indicated.
No matter where you fall on the narrative therapy and research question there are some realities to doing the work we do in North America, evidence based practice is king. However there is some hope for those that want to continue to practice narrative therapy in certain settings. There's John Stillman in Minnesota and his work with the Veterans Administration researching narrative therapy and trauma and now Dr. Cashin and his fellow authors providing promising results with narrative therapy and autism. Who knows, with me starting a PhD program next month, I might throw my name into that research hat as well.
In recent decades, both postmodern and feminist perspectives have had a significant impact on the family therapy field (Moules, 2000; Osmond & Thorne, 1993; Sanders, 1998). These two broad philosophical positions have engendered an intriguing set of challenges and opportunities for proponents of both ideologies. On the one hand, the assumptions embedded within these positions overlap and support each other in combating the patriarchal, hierarchical, oppressive modes of thinking about and working with families. On the other hand, they have also taken divergent, sometimes antagonistic, paths. For example, the feminist agenda propagates an activist clinical stance on issues related to gender, whereas postmodernists caution about the relativity of our so-called “Truths” and the potentially adverse impact of imposing our values on clients.
- I have no interest in trafficking in this trade.
- If I am consulting with a person who prefers to use such labels, then I am interested in honoring what they experience this to be doing for them, and I am interested in actively exploring with them what speaking in this way makes possible.
via Hedtke & Winslade
- I have not taken a position on the so-called anti-psychotic medications.
- I have witnessed drugs being used in ways that have a profound effect in opening up horizons in peoples lives.
- I have also witnessed drugs being used in ways that are primarily for purposes of social control.
Via Hedtke & Winslade
This is a reminder that the next event in the narrative and pizza series
takes place this coming Friday, Dec 7, 6pm to 8pm at CSU San Bernardino.
The seminar will be led by Dr John Winslade and Dr Lorraine Hedtke and the focus will be on:
SIDESTEPPING PATHOLOGIZING LANGUAGE
Practices of diagnosis in medicine, education and pyschology have often produced descriptions of people that are designed to help people but often have a totalizing effect. The problem is that, like drugs, pathologizing also has side effects that can impact on a person’s identity. Narrative practice offers some creative ways to help people separate from these side effects and takes account of the power that resides in language. We shall explore some of these and make them practical.
Please see the attached flyer for more details.
The seminar is open to students, staff, faculty, alumni, community supervisors, friends and relatives, and anyone else interested. All are welcome!!!
As usual a small donation will help cover the cost of the pizza.
I will try and blog a bit from this weeks conference Exploring Relational Practices in Peacebuilding, Mediation and Conflict Transformation: From the Intimate to the International being held in San Diego. Tomorrow is the day long workshop Practicing Narrative Mediation: How to be Useful when Stories Clash facilitated by John Winslade and Gerald Monk. Should be a good week of narrative practice learning with Lorraine Hedtke and Jill Freedman/Gene Combs also presenting at the conference. If you're heading down give me a shout. Cheers.
Postmodern irony and cynicism's become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try and talk about ways of working toward redeeming what's wrong, because they'll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony's gone from liberating to enslaving. There's some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who's come to love his cage.
-David Foster Wallace
My first exposure to Michel Foucault’s work was a discussion of the omnipresent panopticon, a sort of always watching big brother that turned us into ‘subjects,’ and even had us working against ourselves in a myriad of ways. This first brush with Michel Foucault’s panopticon happened in the beginning of my narrative therapy training. It was then that I began to consider to myself how might one get out from under this syrupy thick description of power? In these beginning discussions of Foucault and in many discussions after, with more experienced narrative therapists, there was no clear consensus of what resistance might look like under such a totalizing description of power. In light of this view of power, I considered the game over, as was my hope of mustering any kind of resistance to this punitive power, or providing any sense of agency to those who I might work with in the future. I continued on with my narrative therapy training in the nagging shadow of Foucault and his panopticon, getting around my unanswered questions by going underground with my dissatisfaction with Foucault, and basically abandoning Foucault’s ideas around punitive power. I was never quite sure what to do with this highly influential theorist.
I have since discovered that I am not alone in this reading of the midcareer work of Michel Foucault. Don’t believe me? Ask the nearest narrative therapist to explain to you, if power is everywhere according to Foucault, how can we account for any resistance or agency? This nagging question of resistance is one of several Foucault criticisms Jeffrey Nealon’s book Foucault Beyond Foucault tries to reread and clarify in an effort to show how the critical consensus on Foucault got it wrong. Nealon also argues that Foucault is as relevant today as he ever was and presents the narrative practioner, such as myself, a rethinking of Foucault’s midcareer work, late work, and how Foucault’s often misunderstood writings on Biopower and its machinations can be quite relevant to the contemporary narrative therapist’s practice.
Nealon starts the book laying out the historical development and dominant criticism of Foucault. He summarizes the trajectory of Foucault’s work from the early neostructuralist Foucault; the middle “power” Foucault; to Foucault’s late work where his concern was life as a work of art. In Foucault Beyond Foucault Nealon is most interested in revisiting Foucault’s midcareer work and taking on the dominant criticism of Foucault’s work on power as a dead-end with no possibility for any subjective or collective resistance, too totalizing and too demoralizing. Nealon is also interested in Foucault’s late work on biopower and governmantality. Nealon argues that Foucault has much to teach us about the power, and resistance, that saturate our present.
One of Nealon’s main projects in Foucault Beyond Foucault is to attempt to correct what he believes is a misread of Foucault’s late work, summarized as artistic self-creation as resistance. Nealon argues that because so much of present day counter culture has become wholly normative--get a tattoo and “normative power” will shudder--and has morphed into a kind of liberal individualism, or ‘endless, fetishized self-creation.’ Nealon argues that rather than performing its totalizing work through a cultural standardization or repression, discipline now performs its work through the imperative to become resistant to the government, the “man,” or the herd.
It is here that Nealon takes up Foucault’s little understood writings on biopower and attempts to map the trajectory of sovereign power, to the increased intensity of present day biopower. Nealon argues that contemporary biopower is less interested in regulating behavior through panoptic, institutionally based training exercises, and is more interested in targeting life and lifestyles. Nealon makes his case by mapping how biopower’s punitive discourse tracks the subject, whereas traditional disciplinary power is more interested in the act. Nealon believes it is here that biopower steps out of the general formula for disciplinary power and becomes “lighter” and acquires more intense tactics. Nealon describes this as power moving from policing the act to policing the norm. It was here that I found myself wondering if Nealon has replaced one totalizing description of power with another, where could resistance be found when power has become “lighter” and more intense, attacking our very lives.
But what if people are freer than they think they are? – Jeffrey Nealon
In Foucault Beyond Foucault Jeffrey Nealon argues that in Foucault’s work “there’s quite literally nothing but agency,” and believes that the question of agency that often circulates around Foucault’s work is actually a question of “authenticity.” Nealon describes Foucault’s critics as looking for some kind of space that sits outside the workings of power for any kind of resistance that is not an effect of power. Nealon believes there is no need for this space because Foucault is quite clear that there would be no power “relation” without resistance, or the possibility of resistance.
It is here on the chapter on resistance that Nealon makes his strongest statement regarding the dominant critique of Foucault and takes on critics of ideology and the neohumanist political theorists. Nealon imagines that proclaiming “resistance is everywhere” is more damaging than “domination is everywhere” because if people are freer than they think they are, and do not need to be shown the way out, the jobs of pointing out oppression, giving voice to the people, or guiding the oppressed toward freedom would no longer be secure. So Nealon believes the question we should be concerned with is not how to mine and recover resistance from totalized power, but how to mobilize, focus, or intensify practices of resistance already in place. Nealon believes this effort can be best accomplished through what Foucault called subjugated knowledges, or knowledges from below.
Nealon wraps up the book, and his argument on resistance and agency, by insisting that to continue to story resistance as scarce is both expensive and disenabling. Nealon is clear in his belief that most people know their way around power and resistance in their own contexts and to believe the opposite is condescending.
Implications For Practice
At the time of this writing the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose energy captured North America’s attention for several months, is beginning to wane. Is the Occupy Wall Street movement’s 99% versus the 1% just a re-branding of the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie, therefore doomed to failure? Also at the time of this writing the world anxiously awaits to see what the outcome may be of the Arab Spring that restructured several governments in 2011. Will there be “real democracy” in the Middle East, or as The Who famously sings, “here’s to the new boss, same as the old boss.” Are both of these movements failed attempts of resistance to sovereign power in an age of biopower?
Narrative therapists are adept at attending to the sociopolitical in their work. Knowledgeable in gender politics, feminism, queer theory, race and privilege. But if power is restructuring, as human networks have restructured since Foucault’s death in 1984, what are the ethical implications of justice doing in our work in contemporary times? How do we as narrative therapists not fall victim to what Bruno LaTour calls ‘instant sociology’ and position those who seek are help in an us versus them strategy against power, which Nealon claims is a failed tactic for contemporary times.
In the effort of justice-doing do we lead those that seek our help into having to make a decision between ideas born out of the dominant culture, or align themselves with the counter culture. Leaving them with little room to decide for themselves how they might blend all possibilities that might be available to them. Potentially leaving those who seek are help with the feeling that they are “doing it wrong” and therefor colluding with biopower even in our efforts to help. Nealon believes this type of project, holdovers from sovereign understandings of power, can often be a stopping point of “moral condemnation or judgment rather than an ethical provocation or map.”
In the end, Nealon believes it is best meet a problem or problems outside ‘the economies of representation, assured failure, moralizing judgment, and meaning. Nealon believes that resistance is an essential fact of our everyday struggle with power and that in this struggle; new strategies and weapons are born. So what can narrative therapy gleam from this new understanding of how power is restructuring in contemporary times? I think Foucault himself can provide the map:
I concern myself with determining problems, unleashing them, revealing them within the framework of such complexity as to shut the mouths of prophets and legislators: all those who speak for others and above others. It is that moment that the complexity of the problem will be able to appear in its connection with people’s lives; and consequently, the legitimacy of a common enterprise will be able to appear through concrete questions, difficult cases, revolutionary movements, reflections, and evidence…It is all a social enterprise. (Nealon, 2008)
I can think of no more solid and hopeful argument for the practice that is narrative therapy, and the experience near approach of our practice.