The Grice Club


The Grice Club

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grice and Goffman on irrationality


“[T]here are cagtegories of persons who are created by students of society, and then studied by them.” (Goffman, 1963, p. 140).
Goffman writes:

"The fully and visibily stigmatised ... must suffer the special indignity of KNOWING that they wear their stituation on their sleeve, that almost everyone will be able to see into the heart of their predicament” (Goffman, 1963, p. 127).

This may not apply to some type of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, where this self-cognizance is lacking (vide Roger Scruton, "Madness").

Therefore, we may refine the Goffmanian analysis. If we change 'know' by 'believe', we drop the clause requiring the stigmatised from BELIEVING they wear 'their situation under their sleeve'. 

Goffman writes:

"As part of this sad pleasure there will be the UNSERIOUS USE of "STIGMA TERMS OF ADDRESS" that are usually tabooed in 'mixed' society. For example, the use of 'crazy' by mental patients."

The reference Goffman gives here is:

I. Belknap, "Human problems of a state mental hospital" (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1956), p. 196 -- and J. Kerkoff, "How thin the veil" (New York: Greenberg, 1952), p. 152.
Goffman writes:

Goffman writes:

"Normals really mean no harm; when they do, it is because they don't know better. They should therefore be tactfully helped to act nicely. Slights, snubs, and untactful remarks should not be answered in kind."

Goffman writes: "Sheltering can ocvcur in regard to whole categories of the stigmatised: the service shops which are sometimes found in the immediate neighbourhood of mental hospitals may become places with high tolerance for psychotic behaviour" (p. 52). 

Goffman gives the example of

"the case of the mentally hospitalised patient".

He quotes from 

M. R. Yarrow, J. A. Clausen, and R. R. Robbins, "The social meaning of mental illness', Journal of Social Issues, vol. XI, 1955, pp. 40-41. 

He adds that the essay "provides much useful material on stigma management."

The quote is:

"In interpreting the father's illness to younger children, almost all the mothers attempt to follow of a course of CONCEALMENT. The child is told either that his father is IN A HOSPITAL (without further explanation) or that he is in the hopsital SUFFERING FROM A PHYSICAL AILMENT (he has a toothache, or trouble with his leg, or a tummy ache, or a headache)" (p. 40).

The authors quote from a wife of a mental patient:

"I live in horror -- a perfect horror -- that some people will make a crack about it to Him (child)" (op. cit., p. 34).

Goffman gives an example:

"The stituation of some British ex-mental patients who cannot pass as ordinary job applicants at the Employment Exchange because their National Insurance cards have unstamped gaps."

The reference is to

E. Mills, "Living with mental illness: a study in East London" (London, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd,, 1960), p. 110. 
Goffman gives an example of "social personality".

"In general, norms regarding SOCIAL identity pertain to the kind of role repertoires or profiles we feel it permissible for any given individual to sustain -- "social personality," as Lloyd Warner used to say" (p. 63).

The reference is to 

W. L. Warner, "The Society, the Individual, and His Mental Disorder," American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. XCIV (1937), 278-279. 
Goffman writes: "Every ex-mental patient must face having formed in the hospital some acquaintances who may have to be greeted socially on the outside, leading a third person to ask, 'Who was that?' More importantly, perhaps, he must face the UNKNOWN-ABOUT-KNOWING, that is, persons who can personally identify him and will know, when he does not know they know, that he is "really" an ex-mental patient."

"For one case study," Goffman writes, "in the control of information about self, see J. Henry, "The Formal structure of a psychiatric hopsital," Psychiatry, XVII, 1954, pp. 139-152, esp. 149-150. 

"He who passes [for a normal] finds unanticipated needs to discolose discrediting information about himself, as when a wife of a mental patient tries to collect her husband's unemployment insurance."

(Goffman, p. 83).

"He also suffers from "in-deeper-ism," that is, pressure to elaborate a lie further and further to prevent a given disclosure. In regard to concealing mental hospital commitment of spouse, see Yarrow, Clausen and Robbins, op. cit., p. 42. 
Goffman writes:

"When the individual's stigma is established in him during his stay in an institution, and when the institution retains a discrediting hold upon him for a period after his release, one may expect a special cycle of passing. For example, in one mental hospital -- see Goffman's study of St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, DC, partly reported in "Asylums" (New York: Doubleday & Co., Anchor Books, 1961) -- it was found that patients RE-ENTERING the community often planned to pass in some degree. 

"Patients who were forced to rely on the rehabilitation officer, the social service worker, or the employment agencies for a job, often discussed among theeir fellows the contingencies they faced and the standard strategy for dealing with them."

"Patients express the feeling that after staying in a placement job of this kind, long enough to save some money and get loose from hospital agencies, they would quite work and, on the basis of the six-month work record, get a job someplace else, this time TRUSTING everyone at work would BE KEPT IGNORANT of the stay in a mental hospital."

Goffman gives the reference: "for evidence of the frequency of ex-patients employing such a passing cycle, see M. Linder and D. Landy, "Post-discharge experience and vocational rehabilitation needs of psychiatric patients," "Mental Hygiene", vol. XLII 1958, p. 39. 
Goffman writes:

"Ex-mental patients are sometimes afraid to engage in shcarp interchanges with spouse or employer because of what a SHOW OF EMOTION might be taken as a sign of. MENTAL DEFECTIVES face a similar contingency."

Here Goffman quotes directly from L. A. Dexter, "A social theory of mental deficiency", American Journal of mental deficiency", vol. LXII, 1958, p. 923 -- while noting that "for another study of the mental defective as a stigmtized person, see S. E. Perry, "Some theoretical problems of mental deficiency and their action implications," Psychiatry, vol. XVII 1954, p. 45-73.

The quote fom Dexter is:

"It also happens that if a person of LOW INTELLECTUAL ABILITY gets into some sort of trouble the difficulty is more or less automatically attributed to "mental defect" whereas if a person of "normal intelligence" gets into a similar difficulty, it is NOT regarded as symptomatic of anything in particular."
Goffman writes (p. 21):

"Among his own, the stigmatized individual can use his disadvantage as a basis for organizing life, but he must resign himself to a half-world to do so."

"Here he may develop to its fullest his sad tale accounting for his possession of the stigma."

"The explanation produced by the MENTALLY DEFECTIVE to account for admission to the institution for their kind provide an example."

Here Goffman quotes from

R. Edgerton and G. Sabah, "From Mortification to Aggrandizement: Changing Self-Concepts in the Careers of the Mental Retarded," Psychiatry, vol. XXV, 1962, p. 268. 

Goffman adds: "For further comment on sad sales, see Goffman, "The Moral Career of the Mental Patient," Psychiatry, vol. XXII, 1959, 133-134.

"I got mixed up with a gang. One ngiht we were robbing a gas station and the cops got me. I don't belong in here."

"You know, I shouldn't be here at all. I'm EPILEPTIC, I don't belong here with these other people."

"My parents hate me and ut me in here". 

"They say I'm crazy. I'm not crazy, but even if I was, I don't below in here with these low-grades."

Goffman writes (p. 22): "On the boundaries of a willingness to unite are ex-mental patients -- only a relatively small number are currently willing to support MENTAL HEALTH clubs, in spipte of innocuous club TITLES which allow members to come together under a plain wrapper."

The references Goffman gives here are:

"A general survey is provided in H. Wechsler, "The expatient organisation: a survey", Journal of Social Issues, vol. XVI 1960, p. 47053.

Titles of such clubs include:

Revovery Inc.
Search Club
Club 103
Fountain House Foundation
San Francisco Fellowship Club
Center Club

For a study of one such club, see D. Landy and S. Singer, "The social organisation and culture of a club for former mental patients," Human Relations, vol. XIV 1961, 31-41. See also M. B. Palmer, "Social rehabilitation for mental patients," Mental Hygiene, vol. XLII 1958, 24-28. 
Goffman writes (p. 30): "Persons with a courtesy stigma provide a model of "normalisation" show how far normals could go in treateing the stigmatised person as if he didn't have the stigma -- the idea derives from C. G. Schwartz, "Perspectives on deviance -- wives' definitions of their husbands' mental illness", Psychiatry, vol. XX 1957, pp. 275-291. 

Goffman advises to distinguish normalisation from normification. 

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