Object-oriented philosophy and mental health


In a few of my blog posts I have made some modest and probably rather sophmoric attempts to link Object oriented philosophy and mental health. As I’ve said a fair number of times I regard mental illness as one of the most important social and political questions we are obliged to answer, especially as numbers of people suffering from mental illnesses soar (although, it is officially no longer allowed to speak of suffering in this context). I believe, though I’d like to be wrong, that we are set to face even more mh illnesses. I don’t like the word epidemic but its the only one I can think of.

At any rate Levi Bryant of (the brilliant) Larval Subjects has been blogging on the connections between mental health, capitalism and OOP recently. This is the opening of the post, which sets the tone for what follows:

First, anti-depressants don’t prevent feeling, but rather depression prevents feeling. When, in the grips of depression, everything is bland or gray. Nothing interests, nothing motivates, nothing excites, nor is there much in the way of any affect whatsoever. The depressed person is more or less paralyzed or completely numb. It is thus a mistake, I believe, to suggest– if this is what Circling is implying –that if only we weren’t medicated, if only we embraced our depression, we would be capable of acting. The reverse rather seems to be the case. Moreover, when anti-depressants are at their best, far from turning one into a numb zombie, they actually liberate affect and the capacity to engage with the world. It becomes possible to care or be engaged with the world around us.

Here I think it’s worthwhile to be a bit Spinozist in our attitudes towards anti-depressants. Anything that increases our power of acting or conatus is accompanied by affects of joy and we should never sneer at joy.

To read the rest of the texts and the discussion that follows click here


2 Responses to “Object-oriented philosophy and mental health”

  1. do you truly think OOP is saying something substantially different about MH than what many social work theorists influenced by the work of Urie Bronfenbrenner have been saying for years? (Look into his ontology of the mesosystem, exosystem, microsystem, and chronosystem)

    Levi is indeed brilliant, but MH professionals have been using and applying (although not that successfully in my opinion) systems-ontological approaches for years. And thinking about ‘health ecologies’ as biosocial assemblages, although not always explicitly Deleuzian, is quite common in public health theory as well.

    Check out these tasty treats for straters:

    Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The Ecology of Human Development: Experiments by Nature and Design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Clinical Guidelines as Plans: An Ontological Theory

    Fox, Nick J. (2002) ‘Refracting ‘Health’: Deleuze, Guattari and Body-Self ‘. Health. Vol. 6, No. 3, 347-363.

    Aymer, Cathy; Okitikpi, Toyin. (2002) ‘Epistemology, ontology and methodology: what’s that got to do with social work?’. Social Work Education, Volume 19, Issue 1, 67 – 75.

    Pisanelli DM, Gangemi A, Steve G. (2000) ‘The role of ontologies for an effective and unambiguous dissemination of clinical guidelines’. In R. Dieng and O. Corby (eds.), Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management. Springer Verlag.

    all the best,


  2. 2 dronemodule


    Thanks for the comment first of all. I have to admit to a pretty much absolute ignorance of the literature you’ve recommended. I haven’t been working in the field of mental health for very long, in fact I’m still at the early stages of my training. As such, I can’t really comment as to whether what Levi is saying differs from the texts you’ve pointed me to. I am very grateful you have done so though and will definitely review them, even if very slowly.

    In regards to why I’d like to see OOP take on mental health is that I am fascinated by OOP and committed to understanding mental health problems and helping people who require it. It just makes sense for me to want these things to intersect. Again, elsewhere, I’ve also questioned whether OOP wouldn’t be compatible with anarchism (what put me onto this is the fact that both are often accused of reinforcing capitalism).

    I also have to admit that my thoughts are often very vague and tangential largely due to other commitments but also, and here I have to be honest, due to a sickening intellectual laziness that I developed in the gap between leaving my philosophy MA and starting training in mh.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to point me to what you feel is material I might benefit from reading.


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