Healing for Hudsvedt, May, Longden

I went to a conference recently and asked Hudsvedt whether she felt that the act of self-representation through writing The Shaking Woman was therapeutic. She said that writing the book was a process of “integrating the unintegratable” and that the process of writing was itself a form of integration. She said that yes, the movement from the “externalized to the internalized” or the movement from the objective to the “me and mine” was “very therapeutic.” I think  May & Longden’s self-healing was also a process of internalization and integration. This supports Longden’s conviction that the self has an innate drive toward healing. The idea that the cure is inside the patient seems to be a very ethical way to think “psychosis” because it implies that the patient is not a passive recipient of care but always an active agent of healing. Also, it implies that both the conscious self and the unconscious self have agency. The conscious self and the unconscious self must work together to  move toward coherence. Perhaps Hudsvedt sensed this and wrote her novel in order to give the shaking woman a voice? Rufus May points out that we are all a little schizophrenic because we all have multiple and competing aspects of self. We probably all also have unreconciled pain. In William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, he says, “The normal process of life contains moments as bad as any of those which insane melancholy is filled with, moments in which radical evil gets its innings and takes its solid turns. The lunatic’s visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact.” Being “well-adjusted” sometimes means seeking predictability in an unpredictable world or avoiding pain in a world that causes pain etc. Perhaps people who hear voices have special access to the nuanced expressions of their different self fragments? Particularly, their damaged or scared self fragments. Maybe “hearing voices” is a form of access. If so, people who hear voices probably have a lot to teach us all.

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