Sarah Kane s world of depression : the emergence and experience of mental illness in 4.48 psychosis
Fictional narratives of mental illnesses often focus on individual experiences of pain, anxiety and suffering. As such, narratives depict the experiences of illness in a holistic way, revealing the embodied, situated and intersubjective in other words, emer-gent nature of psychiatric disorders. They are thus able to create a different kind of ... understanding of mental disorders than medicalizing strands of psychiatry that tend to reduce mental illnesses to biological dysfunctions of the brain and the nervous system and thus ignore how disorders straddle the brain, the body and the environment.In this article, I discuss how the experiential world of depression is constructed and conceived of in Sarah Kane s play 4.48 Psychosis. Kane s depiction of severe, psychotic depression is in line with phenomenological accounts of the illness, in which depression is understood as an emergent phenomenon that gives rise to altera-tions in the embodied being-in-the-world of the subject. The text refers to common cognitive-affective experiences and folk-psychological understandings of the mind and employs different intertextual, narrative and poetic strategies to convey the phe-nomenal world of depression to its readers. In addition, Kane emphasizes that to treat depression a deeper understanding of this state of emergency is needed than what medicalizing psychiatry is able to provide.
Original publication in
On_culture: the open journal for the study of culture 1 (2016)