My parents are both psychiatric nurses who worked their entire careers in state-run mental health facilities. In Casey, there is a line from the Director (on p. 151): “There is pleasure in a schedule…. It calms the mind.” This made me think of conversations I’ve had with my parents about the difference in the states of clients (which is the present term for people who’ve been admitted to state-run facilities) before and after admission/re-admission. It seems to me that in many cases, the pre-admission state, untreated, is the body’s current, tended-toward state (for various reasons… nature/nurture/both/other), and while admitted, clients are being treated to calm or control the pre-admission state, including its effects on the client’s actions and interactions; in facilities, clients are subdued, in a sense, by layers of predictability. During admission, having a schedule is emphasized, as well as taking care of the body and its environment at intervals throughout the day, including personal hygiene, maintaining orderly surroundings, taking medications, and doing both individual and group therapy work. The atmosphere of reliability and constancy is an attempt to engender a homeostasis so that volatility is less frequent, and individuals and groups are less disrupted psychologically than when left to their own previously tended-toward states/environments. Once discharged and returned to their pre-admission environments—which happens for a variety of reasons (family needs, funding, level of remission of symptoms)—many clients relapse for different volatilities, but also because medication and therapy schedules are not continued properly or are often abandoned entirely.
Thinking about travel in relation to the self via our readings this week was interesting in that change in environment can be change in perspective (separation, renewal, etc.). We touched on this notion in class discussion last week, when we discussed how someone might be A in B environment, but X in Y environment. The fugueur seems like an example of change in self via wandering, movement, and/or escape, whether conscious or not; that the fugueur’s travel is the self unanchoring from (at least one specific) place, as well detaching from homeostatic-rich things like (being able to work toward maintaining) a job, home, marriage/family, and/or planning a future. This made me think of Jill Bolte Taylor’s comment about schizophrenics and how their reality is not always linked to a shared/common reality of past, present, and future, or a plan within an overarching framework beyond their own (paraphrased). This idea that someone experiencing a mental illness might be less aware of the self in relation to a greater collection of selves, or that sometimes that experience is characterized by acting to escape homeostasis is interesting. Even when someone is free of the challenges of acute mental illness, certain levels of self-awareness and self-monitoring, as well as trying to adhere to relative homeostatic conditions day in and day out, can be difficult (and/or a struggle to maintain over time).