David Kessel

David Kessel photographed by Natalie Fonnesu about 2013 with his own drawing of himself as a young man

Poetry butters no parsnips. A fancy excrescence. At best, a mere condiment, a chutney? But poetry could have an inalienable personal and/or social motivational task; the making of substantive hope in desperate circumstances?...

Futility is the emotional mark of serious mental illness and chronic mental poverty. It is painful to have insight into this - its character and origins. The 'painful bits' are the useful living bits...

Existential pain is the personal starting point of healing, of which poetry... can be an essential part. The struggle between the 'deadly' and the 'living' is at the individual and social heart of each and every person...

So a poem is the 'clotted truth' of a personal-or political circumstance problem. A grammatical-emotive nexus... A true poem acts as an affective template for personal growth, healing, transcendence. It confronts the deadly through affirmations, contradictions, discovery, astonishment with the life bearing threads and realities of ones own, and social existence. Hence the importance of the Survivors' Poetry movement.

David Kessel's notes December 2012
Printed on the back of an advertisement for the
Howard Mingham reading 28.10.2014

Toward a Penny Poets Manifesto

The inalienable importance of true poetry
making hope in desperate
circumstances - Poetry's Heartening Work!
See the British war poets - Owen, Douglas et al,
Bitterness, renewal, Tenderness.

Hunger Standing where people, all living things, hunger!

Respect Celebration of the ordinary, especially the common people, individually and collectively.

Awareness Transformation, extension of personal awareness.

Agape Pain and epiphany of others.

Analepsis Recovering of suppressed personal and historical events/ memories, identity and relationships (and psychosis), thisness and otherness (delusions etc), home and world, room and street, bed and work, waking and dreaming.

Metanoia Anxiety of new, emergent, change, transformation.

Chthonic Life, culture of the underworld, subterranean.

Commitment Struggles shared held in common, practical, moral, intellectual struggles.

* Modesty, Comstancy, Poverty, Essentiality

Document (no date) signed David and Joe.


Schizophrenia Salvation Network

"Can't you see buried within all that wreckage he's craving for freedom" (Malcolm Lowry)

Our disability could be a diabetes of the mind, caused by a traumatic disbelief?

Solidarity: Very often invalidated and demonised, and often both together, could become the modern Jews?!

Over half of us, discharged from old asylums, died within a year of dislocation, neglect, cold! the inadequate, friendly simple schizophrenic, the devastated, emotional hebephrenic, the intense, wordy paranoid schizophrenic ... we are not told about them!

Also, probably, 'guinea pigs' for the secret state experimentation- psychotropics, mind-policing and short-wave radiation, etc.

Fellowship: Must associate to counter loneliness and stigmatisations.

Local Groups: Needed for fellowship mutual therapy, political initiatives.

'Full-shilling Club': Hope to have regular central London meetings?


A schizophrenic has an existential duty towards the community in communicating by word, organisation or art his or her particular spiritual richness. As a chronic schizophrenic I want to make a few comments about the nature, politics and treatment of schizophrenia and schizophrenics.


I argue that schizophrenia is not merely a mental illness, it is also a mystical interpretation of the universe. Vicariousness is the emotional half of civilised life. Sometimes it seems that schizophrenia is one long inner and often inaccessible essay in vicariousness, of vicarious suffering. The selfishness of the schizophrenic is an outward reflection of the passivity of this otherness, this inaccessible suffering.

Schizophrenia is a diabetes of the mind due to a failure of expression of a mind-body cohering hormone during adolescence. This may be caused by prolonged lack of intimacy and/or personal invalidation during childhood, as in double-bind theory, in the genetically pre-disposed individual. Onset usually coincides with emotional and/or physical trauma.

Ronald Fairbairn writes about the child taking upon her/himself the burden of badness which appears to reside in her or his objects -unconditional (libidinal) and conditional (moral) badness. As a result of this, she/he

"can have no sense of security and no hope of redemption. The only prospect is one of death and destruction."

In this analysis, Fairbairn sees only the negative side of the problem, for the sufferer seeks redemption in the spiritualising of their ego, of their inner life. Stack Sullivan quotes Ferenczi in this respect: the sufferer is seen to

"permit anything to happen to his body, which has become to him as immaterial as the outer world. His whole narcissism retreats into the spiritual ego which is, so to speak, a citadel which still holds out, though outer and inner forts are lost".

But there is a need to get beyond the dimensions and characterisations of post-Freudian western psychoanalysis. As Christopher Caudwell put it in his study of Freud (Studies in a Dying Culture) -

"The censor, the ego, the super-ego, the id, the Oedipus complex, and the inhibition are mind deities, like the weather deities who inhabited Greek Olympus. Freud's picture of a struggle between eternal eros and eternal thanatos, between life and death instincts, between the reality principle and the pleasure principle, is only the eternal dualism of reflective barbarians, carried over by Christianity from Zoroastrianism, and now introjected by Freud into the human mind. It represents a real struggle but in terms of a western bourgeois myth."

Schizophrenia is dissociated sexuality, the inner war between the unconscious and the conscious. Splits between hate and love, action and dreams, force and tenderness, anger and consideration, fragment the sexuality, draining the body of libidinal association and the mind of carnal coherence - whence the characteristic masturbatory fantasy life or impotence of the sufferer.

I believe this dissociation occurs because of an addiction to a memory taking place at a time of personal crisis. This causes a cybernetic short-cut. This addiction may be the result of a long period or acute episode of thalamic disintegrity and insecurity consequent on the invasion by introjection of a powerful alien will, perhaps that of a parent in an impressionable child, or that of a dead pal at war. This introjection occurs together with the values and experiences of the immediate environment; so that a post-1945 experience in a soldiers child may include the introjection of the experience of the extermination camps as well as battles and the prevalent army bullshit.


At its best, the inner struggle of the schizophrenic to regain his or her individuality approaches the condition of civil war. For the alien will and the compensatory addiction have grained lives and biological forces of their own. But, using the cathexis of good inner intimate objects, the subject may make headway. This is an issue I will return to under treatment.

There is a vast amount I do not understand about the relationship of schizophrenia with time. However, together with the future block which Lidz writes about, there is a general speeding up of time which may be connected with the impatience of suppressed hunger.

The inner struggle of the schizophrenic helps to explain why he or she has the existential duty towards the community to communicating that I have spoken of, but, politically, such is the extent and depth of people's fear of the unknown world of the psyche and madness, that schizophrenics are -or could become - the modern Jews! Not only are we invalidated and demonised; often both at the same time, but we are subject to irrational and perhaps deliberate prejudice by the media. If someone with angina or, more commonly, alcoholism, murders somebody, their illness/disability is not mentioned; whereas if the murderer is schizophrenic it makes the headlines. This may or may not be deliberate. This prejudice is, perhaps, as much due to the projections of psychopathic, schizopid, 'normal' people as it is to ignorance.

I think it likely, especially given the fact that no one believes what we say, that various experiments are carried out on schizophrenics by MI5 - pharmacological, short wave radiation experiments and mind-policing and suiciding experiments.


After the closure of the big asylums many the schizophrenics 'resettled' in the community' died within their first year - of cold, neglect, and dislocation - the inadequate, friendly simple schizophrenics; the emotional, devastated hebephrenics; the intense and wordy paranoids ... we are not told about them!

Any meaningful care has to fundamentally meet the chronic invalidation and sense of futility which mark this condition.

For this reason, the "Therapeutic Community' as pioneered by Sullivan, Maxwell Jones and others is essential. The Claybury psychiatrist Dennis Martin has written a very interesting account of such an experiment in the 1960s - Adventure in Psychiatry - An experiment which survived for several years despite opposition from other doctors and managers.

Finally, I would like to say that the writings of radicals, such as R.D. Laing and David Cooper, whilst truly great philosophically, are downright dangerous, in most cases, therapeutically. Appropriate minimal medication, and even, on occasions, ECT are an essential ingredient of modern treatment, as much as existential, non-Freudian therapy. Forward to the insulin of the mind.

David Kessel 11.1.2008

STATEMENTS ON FEEL NOTICES (Largely written by David Kessel)

2008 [Quote] "I am a sub intellectual - Quasi autonomous - Government experiment" by Jonathan Easterbrook, a local schizophrenic on haloperidol only.

Most psychiatrists, many doctors and nurses, seem to have sold their souls to the drug companies. With custodial care at the new Mile End Unit, most patients sit zonked out in front of the television or asleep on their beds. With all its poverty, the old St Clements at least allowed access to the garden, the OT Department, the canteen, the Social Club and the out of doors, none of which is possible now? Over the summer months, we want to discuss alternative therapies (Sarah Barratt will introduce a discussion on 21 July), what FEEL can do, how we would campaign effectively and legally, and what our main focus could be.

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