The Perpetual Treadmill
The Perpetual Treadmill
Encased within the bureaucratic machinery of homelessness, mental health, criminal justice and substance use services trying to find an exit point.
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The Perpetual Treadmill is a care pathway devised to ensnare the poor within a never ending treatment system for their “own good,” after they have been labelled with their designated malaise. Once caught within it, similar to Kafka’s “Trial” and “Castle,” they are wedged within its corridors where they are forever signposted between services. This book draws on the analogies of “knights” and “knaves” by building on “Bath of Steel” to focus on how this system has been constructed and then maintained.

To depict its shortcomings, it has been ranged against a psychologically informed perspective (PSIP) to show how those entrapped can eventually exit the “perpetual treadmill.” But there are numerous vested interests which militate against those clients, duly labelled from ever “emotionally recovering.” The interplay between politicians, bureaucrats, academics, practitioners and clients is explored to detail how the poor have become a raw material which feeds this machine.

This book is relevant to psychotherapists, addiction specialists, psychologists, sociologists, criminologists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, social policy experts and nurses.

Upon this endless conveyor belt, the objectified trudges without ever getting off. Each individual is instructed that it is impossible to disembark, as they are stuck due to their genetic inheritance. They are predestined to undertake this endless trudge. Therefore they have to make the best of a bad constitution. Also they must accept the care they have been given and adapt to it, because it is being undertaken for their best interests. All of these sentiments provide a “moral right,” a soothing of the conscience for those who tend the machine. It legitimises (Weber 1922) the machine world. Due to the rational world being filled with an empirical comprehension, utilising the positivistic divorce of the self from the object, these figments of belief (when viewed through Nietzsche’s reflections), have allowed an intelligentsia to delineate - those who are not of its kind, as alien beings. They are the Sartrean (1943) “other.” The ability to construct a world and live within it were outlined in 1873 in Nietzsche’s “Truth and Lies in an Extra Moral Sense.” Belief in this world is part of the hegemony of ideas constantly replicated within the social sciences. They are upheld as “truth in itself.” “The Perpetual Treadmill” analyses a treatment system which operates to keep itself in operation. Through its unconscious narcissism it has failed to engender emotional recovery. Instead it functions according to the tenets of Max Weber’s (1922) concept of the iron cage of bureaucracy. Alternatively I focus on how making a human connection sparks a positive change in the person on the receiving end. By describing an alternative the current stasis becomes visible. I will provide a critique of the philosophy of the various rationalist, empirical and positivistic belief systems to detail how an academic investment has crushed those who are inspected. The current treatment system reflects the “scotoma’s” the blindspots operating within the social sciences, in particular sociology and its offshoots criminology and psychology along with psychiatry. I will outline why radical change within academia, bureaucracies and practitioners is required to enthuse emotional recovery within clients. This critique also extends to politics and how it is conducted. The leadership also fails to ignite any vision. It also encompasses the work currently being undertaken on artificial intelligence, as the gaps which emerge are seismic within the philosophy which underpins the science. By positing the end goal of “emotional recovery” this insight aims to cause a reflection on the nature of scientific research in all its formations. A teleological belief is required that people who are marginalised can recover. But recover to do what? Who is to say there lifestyle is erroneous? However as the case histories in “Bath of Steel” (Whittington 2012) and “Beaten into Violence” (Whittington 2007) detail, the angst ridden worlds where the marginalised populations inhabit are not just a lifestyle choice. These individual worlds have been constructed to fend off an Adlerian (1956) “social interest” because connecting to others is deemed painful. To be isolated and denigrated as Fromm (1950a) outlined in “The Pathology of Normalcy” is viewed as being less than human. However this is not just pushing recovery so that everyone can join the middle class throng. Every individual wants to eventually escape their current predicament, but what is offered to them does not allow them to shed the resonances of the past, only to camouflage it. Camouflage is integral to the middle class “habitus” (Bourdieu 1984); a world without emotions. Working therapeutically with homeless men illuminates that the standard rote mechanistic perception of the world arises from a very human emotional amnesia. After being involved in praxis (Freire P. 1970) (action and reflection) I believe I haven an ability to stand back and critique the static systems which thwart “emotional recovery.” By viewing a teleological end point, a world yet to be born and then working backwards a new vision can introduced. However this is no “five year plan” but a lived vision of a world yet to be ushered in.

Reflective Practitioner, Author, Writer and Psychotherapist, Dr. Dean Whittington has pioneered a therapeutic approach with marginalised populations drawing on a relational method.  Based in South London he previously worked with gang members, armed robbers, people with complex mental health diagnoses and migrants to show how an emotional recovery can be actualised.

He provides a unique insight into how the current system thwarts those who are caught within it from rebuilding their lives, as too many people with a vested interest keep the money go round turning incessantly.


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