Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 24, Issue 1–2, pp 147–158

Being Approximate: The Ganser Syndrome and Beyond

  • Mady Schutzman
Article

Abstract

The Ganser syndrome, or “talking past the point,” (originally identifying symptoms of inmates on remand when questioned by prison doctors), is explored as a form of insubordination against the stigmatizing effects of overdetermined diagnostic categories. The strategies of approximation that characterize the syndrome are likened to comedy routines/vaudeville styles and to their employment of punning, clownery, and ambiguity to challenge the more privileged cultural values of clarity, literalness, and precision. The seeming craftiness of Ganserians is related to the aesthetic tactics of the trickster figure and to the physical buffoonery of hysterics. Stylistically, this paper synthesizes the languages of critical theory, Gracie Allen routines, personal narrative, jokes, and poetic reflections on the notion of being approximate.

approximation vaudeville trickster dissent diagnoses indeterminacy Ganser 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Apter, A. (1993). The Ganser syndrome in two adolescent brothers. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32(3), 3582–3584.Google Scholar
  2. Auerbach, D. B. (1982). The Ganser syndrome. In C. T. H. Friedman & R. A. Faguet (Eds.), Extraordinary disorders of human behavior (pp. 29–46). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  3. Boal, A. (1979). Theater of the oppressed. C. A. McBride & M. L. McBride, Trans.). New York: Urizen Books.Google Scholar
  4. Boal, A. (1995). The rainbow of desire: The Boal method of theatre and therapy. (A. Jackson, Trans.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Brecht, B. (1964). Alienation effects in Chinese acting. In J. Willett (Ed. & Trans.), Brecht on theatre (pp. 91–99). New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  6. Bromberg, W. (1986). The neglect of Ganser syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 937–938.Google Scholar
  7. Doty, W. G. (1993). A lifetime of trouble-making: Hermes as trickster. In W. J. Hynes & W. G. Doty (Eds.), Mythical trickster figures: Contours, contexts, and criticisms (pp. 46–65). Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.Google Scholar
  8. Enoch, M. D., Trethowan, W. H., & Barker, J. C. (1967). The Ganser syndrome. In M. D. Enoch (Ed.), Some uncommon psychiatric syndromes (pp. 41–55). Bristol: John Wright and Sons.Google Scholar
  9. Hyde, L. (1998). Trickster makes this world: Mischief, myth, and art. New York: North Point Press.Google Scholar
  10. Manea, N. (1992). On clowns: The dictator and the artist—notes to a text by Fellini. In N. Manea (Ed.), On clowns: The dictator and the artist (pp. 33–61). New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  11. Schutzman, M. (1999). The real thing: Performance, hysteria, and advertising. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Showalter, E. (1985). The female malady: Women, madness, and English culture, 1830–1980. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  13. Whitlock, F. A. (1982). The Ganser syndrome and hysterical pseudo-dementia. In A. Roy (Ed.), Hysteria (pp. 185–210). New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mady Schutzman
    • 1
  1. 1.MFA Writing ProgramCalifornia Institute of the ArtsValencia

Personalised recommendations