Bioethics Blogs

Sadeq Rahimi’s Meaning, Madness and Political Subjectivity: A Study of Schizophrenia in Turkey by Ayşecan Terzioğlu

Meaning, Madness and Political Subjectivity: A Study of Schizophrenia in Turkey

By Sadeq Rahimi

Routledge, 2015, 248 pages

This book is issued by “The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis” series, which aims at enhancing the dialogues between social scientists and practitioners, especially in the fields of trauma, attachment relationships in the family, in social settings, and with professionals. Rahimi manages to cover all these issues in detail, analyzing the cases of three schizophrenia patients in Turkey and relating these to historical and social dynamics, ideological debates, and clashes within the country. This rather ambitious project is based on interviews with the patients, their family members and their clinicians in three hospitals in Istanbul. The author is mainly interested in how the patients interpret their own illness experiences. In addition, Rahimi conducted ethnographic research in order to produce “thick cultural analyses” (2), which provides the necessary background information for the analysis of each patient’s case.

Rahimi defines schizophrenia as “one of the most idiosyncratic modalities of subjective experience” and contends that it consists of a “highly private experience” that can nevertheless be associated with the larger political, cultural and historical dynamics (1). Rahimi’s understanding of political subjectivity through the interaction of meaning and power is the key in his analysis of the patients’ narratives, especially in terms of their main themes’ connections to common political and cultural discourses. In his evaluations of “systems of meaning”, Rahimi justifies “certain associations of signifiers” or “certain patterns of associations of concepts” as “more accurate or more truth bearing, and thus more legitimate or more desirable than the others”, rather than firmly establishing and singling out particular associations.

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