On limits

by Julia Evans on July 27, 2011

The Sadeian position on limits is that anything goes.  You can have anything you want – Wellbeing or Health which the Government promises to protect – anything.  This position is explored on other pages by Jean-Louis Gault and Pierre Naveau who comment on Jacques Lacan’s ‘Kant with Sade’.

In his ‘Thought for the Day’[i] BBC Radio 4 (26 July 2011), the Revd Canon Giles Fraser explores this idea of limits in relation to the United States of America’s financial debt.

In his argument, Giles Fraser firstly questions the premise which seems firmly in place:  But what I do regard with a great deal of suspicion is the idea that prosperity must always be premised upon continual economic growth. For this suggests a world of perpetual expansion, a world in which there are no limits.

Reason for Giles Fraser’s suspicion:  And I am instinctively suspicious of this because the fantasy that human beings can wipe away all their limitations is at the heart of what the church means by original sin.

The choosing of a Sadeian position:  What Adam and Eve got so very wrong was their desire to press beyond the constituent conditions of their own humanity by reaching for a God-like perspective. Unsatisfied by what they had, they were driven beyond themselves, and in so doing sowed the seeds of their own destruction. In other words, they failed to recognize the reality of limit. 

In economic terms, this story advises that there really is such a thing as enough.’

Instead of working within the limits of what is in place, more – of a better standard – is commanded:  ‘Adam and Eve lived in the garden of paradise. But they never appreciated how good things were for them. They wanted more – and in so doing destroyed the good that they already had. It’s absolutely a parable for our times.’

So human limitations and imperfections are ignored and we overreach ourselves: Original sin warns that it’s an extremely destructive part of the human condition to resent the limitations of being human, that we are always over-reaching ourselves. The current expression of this over-reaching hubris is the build up of huge financial debts in Greece and the US and elsewhere. And so it is that the fiscal sins of our generation will be visited upon our children and upon our children’s children.’

So why do I draw these arguments to your attention?

The Government has used the Sadeian position to rule over us for decades.  In Mental Health, they promise impossibilities.  They link ‘safeguarding health and wellbeing’ with centrally defined standards driven by top-down authoritarian control. They define standard mental health or wellbeing, and then go on to implement this standard in their Mental Health or Wellbeing Factories.  The Government ignores their limitations – what is proper for Government policy and what is beyond their control – and resent that their being human means limits to what they can achieve.  The Government boasts of the amount of money they are giving to Mental Health, as if this proves they can diminish the number of their subjects with dis-being.  The Government, truly, ‘presses beyond the constituent conditions of their own humanity by reaching for a God-like perspective.’

So the issue is: what do you do about it?  From what principles doe you operate?


regx2 works in relationships with others to:

Enable sufferers from symptoms of psychic or mental distress to choose the treatment or practice which works for them rather than the One prescribed by the government.

Resist the top-down imposition by the law of the One Standard driving practitioners’ training, development, practice, ethics, complaints procedure, etc that produces unhealthy uniformity.  N.B.  The DoH Scoping Project (July 2005) found 571 training organisations.  This strategy seeks to support this healthy diversity rather than protect or prioritise one or a section of its variants.

[i] The transcript of 26 July 2011 ‘Thought for the day’ is available at St Paul’s Institute.   The original broadcast can be heard at BBC Radio 4.