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Goldman, D.L. (2012). Theatre and Anti-Theatre of the Mouth, Part Two: Psychotic Glossolalia. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 20(1):85-113.

(2012). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 20(1):85-113

Theatre and Anti-Theatre of the Mouth, Part Two: Psychotic Glossolalia

David L. Goldman

Translated by:
Yolande Amzallag

In part one, the author discussed the “Theatre of the Mouth” as an esthetically inspired, pre-verbal developmental phase, associated with the migration of disparate, prenatal bodily functions to the primitive oral cavity, the structures of which, in union with the mother, facilitate the early stages of symbolization and subsequent links to the outside world. The oral phenomena associated with “psychotic glossolalia,” in contrast to “autistic echolalia” described in part one, are the consequence of expulsive anal elements that attack nascent symbolization.

In the first section of part two, language usage in the psychotic individual will be distinguished from that of the “liar” through an examination of the respective writings of Artaud and Lewis Carroll, whom many have reproached for his wilful distortion of words in Alice in Wonderland. The disconnect between words and inner feeling, an artifice in Carroll, is, in the case of Artaud, an expression of the inability to adequately symbolize and thus contain strong visceral emotions within the context of ordinary social exchanges, leading to the bodily breaking-apart he described in his plague metaphor. Artaud's violent disarticulation of words from meaning, characteristic of psychotic glossolalia, explored in the next section, allows one to get a bird's-eye view of the activity of what Bion called “beta-elements,” as distinguished from “alpha-elements” and their link to the ability to think thoughts.

However, beta-elements do not serve the sole function of evacuation but mysteriously coalesce to form a kind of hedonic matrix. This intriguing cohesiveness, associated with these bits of ego and superego and “shreds of meaning,”

that will be described in the third section, begin to take the shape of a negativistic character-type, the outcome of an alternate Oedipal situation, the attributes of which, like the world of the plague, are dedifferentiation, strange reversibility, and parallelism. Borrowing from Artaud, the author has labelled this character-type “Carrion Man,” the representative of a raw disjunctive universe whose performances are best observed on the stage of the psychiatric hospital in contrast to the often jaded interchanges of everyday life.

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