Research Output

Fatigue and the mind-body relation: a Lacanian exploration

  This thesis explores the symptomatology of fatigue based on interviews conducted with seven people who are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. The thesis starts by examining how a biomedical view of fatigue — the dominant perspective in contemporary Western society — is underpinned by aporetic divisions, such as mind/body and individual/society. In pursuit of a more rigorous approach to fatigue, which explores rather than disavows division, the interview transcripts are analysed through the lens of Lacanian theory. The analysis commences with an exploration of the onset of the participants’ conditions, drawing on Lacan’s notion of alienation. This brings to light a common experience of a confrontation with the capitalistic demand to ‘keep going’, as well as experience of facing contradictory demands. Lacan’s notion of separation allows us to appreciate the emergence of fatigue as one way of unconsciously refusing these demands. This refusal consists of two intertwined but contradictory forces: the drive (which articulates to pain/tension and signals presence) and a defensive desire (which articulates to fatigue itself and signals disappearance). This allows us to understand a complex of phenomena related to the experience of fatigue, ranging from anorexia to mourning. The thesis then turns to the relation between the onset events and the participants’ responses to them. Here Lacan’s theory of the clinical structures is utilised in order to illuminate details around the function and structure of fatigue. This returns us to the conventional separation of the mind and body, showing how current medical and psychological approaches are unable to adequately account for the current findings. The thesis concludes by elucidating how the main points are situated within a larger sociocultural context, arguing for a view of the mind-body relation which moves beyond the aporia while refusing any reduction to either pole.

  • Type:

    Thesis

  • Date:

    31 July 2021

  • Publication Status:

    Unpublished

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded

Citation

Diserholt, A. Fatigue and the mind-body relation: a Lacanian exploration. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2701703

Authors

Keywords

chronic fatigue syndrome; Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; symptomatology; Lacanian theory; mind-body relation

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