Welcome to Social
Science in the City
Homelessness, Dangerousness
and Disorder. The View from
Diogenes’ Barrel?
Homelessness, Dangerousness and
Disorder. The View from Diogenes’ Barrel?
Christopher Scanlon
Consultant Psychotherapist & Organisational Consultant
[email protected]
To think about the ways in which some of
us find ourselves (neither forced into nor
by choice?) taking up our membership of a
group either in opposition to it, by means
of refusal to join in (the ‘anti-social
position’), or at its edge, involving a
‘tightrope’ walk of fear and ambivalence
(the ‘borderline position’) …
Our society and your world: the
difficulty holding onto “we”
‘Though a simple aspiration for most socially isolated
people … the sense of belonging to a community with all
this can imply for mutuality and participation remains
stubbornly illusive in spite of community care’ (Morris,
‘... find themselves pushed to the margins of our society.
Almost all encounter prejudice, bullying, insensitive
treatment and discrimination [that leads to] your world
becoming smaller, opportunities more limited, a
withdrawal from wider society ...’ (Tony Blair, foreword to
Valuing People, DoH, 2001) [our italics]
“We are at war with one another”: Foucault’s Caesura
… and - there’s a darkness of the edge of town ... (Bruce
Foucault: Rupture and Caesura
“We are at war with one
another; a battle front
runs through the whole of
society, continuously and
Society Must Be Defended, from
Lectures at the Collège de France,
Disturbances of ‘Groupishness’
“The individual cannot help being a member of a
group even if his membership of it consists in
behaving in such a way as to give reality to the idea
that he does not belong to a group at all”
“[man is] a group animal at war, not simply with the
group, but with himself for being a group animal and
with those aspects of his personality that constitute
his groupishness”
Bion, Experiences in Groups (1961)
Foulkes – Location of Disturbance
Each individual – itself an artificial though
plausible abstraction is basically and centrally
and inevitably determined, by the world in
which he lives, by the community and the
group …
disturbance is between people – e.g.
inclusion/exclusion and discourse of power
‘Symptoms’ are manifestation of what cannot
be communicated between people
Personality Disorder and
“an enduring pattern of inner experience and
behaviour that deviates markedly from the
expectations of the individual’s culture” (DSMIV)
“represent[s] either extreme or significant
deviations from the way the average individual
in a given culture perceives, thinks, feels and
particularly relates to others” – “for different
cultures it may be necessary to develop specific
sets of criteria with regard to social norms, rules
and obligations” (ICD-10)
Diogenes of Sinope
Agora – Forum (Forensic)
“I brown-nose those who give me alms, I yelp at
those who refuse, and I set my teeth on those
who are rascals”
‘practising disappointment’ ...
In search of one honest man ...
The Diogenes Paradigm ...
‘If I were not Alexander ...’
longing for and profound fear of
attachment (Glasser, 1996)
The day came when the risk to remain tight in the
bud it was more painful than the risk it took to
Anais Nin
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Stevie Smith – Not Waving But Drowning
‘In search of one honest man’...?
“Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club
that will accept me as a member”
‘The existing social order is a swindle and its cherished beliefs
mostly delusions’ (Orwell)
‘They sleep safely in their beds because rough men stand ready
in the night to visit violence on those who would do them harm’ (Orwell)
The ‘sturdy vagabond’
“The proletariat created by the breaking-up of the
bands of feudal retainers and by the forcible
expropriation of the people from the soil ... were
turned in massive quantities into beggars, robbers
and vagabonds ... Hence a bloody legislation
against vagabondage was enforced ... Legislation
treated them as ‘voluntary’ criminals, and assumed
that it was entirely within their power to go on
working ...”
1530: Beggar’s licence for the old and infirm – the
‘sturdy vagabond’ is tied to the cart-tail and
whipped and then made to swear on oath to go
back to their birthplace, or domicile of the last 3
years, and ‘put themselves to labour’ – three strikes
and you’re out – executed as a ‘hardened criminal
and enemy of the common weal’
Karl Marx: Das Kapital
Foucault: The Leper and the Lazar-Houses
“... the leper vanished, or almost, from memory ... Often, in
these same places, the formulas of exclusion would be
repeated ... Poor vagabonds, criminals and ‘deranged
minds’ would take the part played by the leper, and we
shall see what salvation was expected from this exclusion,
for them and for those who excluded them as well.”
Excluding by confining leads to fear of contagion
“... all those forms of unreason which had replaced leprosy
in the geography of evil, and which had been banished ...
now became [via the presence of asylums in and near large
cities] a visible leprosy ... Unreason was once more
present; but marked now by an imaginary stigma of
disease, which added its powers of terror.”
(Foucault, 1961)
Slavoj Zizek:
‘Objective Violence’
Subjective violence: violence performed by a clearly
identifiable agent
 Symbolic violence: embodied in language and its
forms, ‘imposition of universe of meaning’
 Systemic
consequences of the smooth functioning of our
economic and political systems’
“Objective violence is invisible since it sustains the
very zero-level violence against which we perceive
something as subjectively violent”
Anti-social people or anti-social society?
Behavioural violence and the antisocial
position - injurious and offensive acts caused
by specific actions of excluded individuals
(clinical, psychological perspectives)
Structural violence – the culture and
organisation of groups, communities & societies
that make it acceptable/desirable … increased
rates of deaths and disability suffered by those
(epidemiological – Gilligan, 1996)
… ‘For the poor always ye have with you ...’
John 12:8 (we might add: violence ye will
always have)
The Sadistic Society …
“…we hate them, and we hate them because
they refuse and in their refusal are
experienced as mocking everything that the
mainstream of society holds dear: hope, selfbetterment, personal relationships, procreation, bringing up children, and even
simply getting up in the morning. They are
dirty, smelly, incontinent, and unsociable, and
as such are an insult to our aspirations and
our narcissism”
(Declerk, 2006)
Fear of Contagion
“… the people here who, though they have an instinctive
craving for human contacts, can’t bring themselves to
yield to it, because of the mistrust that keeps them apart.
For it’s common knowledge that you can’t trust your
neighbour; he may pass the dis-ease [our hyphen] to you
without your knowing it …”
Camus, La Peste
Perceptions and projections of dangerousness
Real and imagined threats to psychic survival
Plague, exile and quarantine
Gated(?) communities and (in)security walls
Border guards, quarantine officers and the surveillance
‘Nursing dangerousness and dangerous nursing’:
reciprocal violence and hostile dependency
Fences  Offences?
“Every limit concept is always the limit between two
concepts” Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer (1998)
“One is inside
then outside what one has been inside
One feels empty
because there is nothing inside oneself
One tries to get inside oneself
that inside of the outside
that one was once inside
once one tries to get oneself inside what
one is outside: ....
But this is not enough.”
(RD Laing, from Knots, 1970)
“[The madman’s] exclusion must enclose him ... he cannot and
must not have another prison than the threshold itself ... He is put
in the interior of the exterior, and inversely”
(Michel Foucault, from Madness and Civilization, 1961)
‘The road to Hell is paved with good
intentions...’ St. Bernard of Clairvaux (C11)
Intentionally homeless - “not really homeless”
– so not offered housing - threatens ideas of
what it is to be ‘housed’ (lock ‘em out)
Intentional self-harm [DSH] - “not really ill” threatens our idea of health - not offered
healthcare (lock ‘em in – throw ‘em out)
Intentionally unco-operative – ‘powerful’
helplessness (throw ‘em out)
Intentionally anti-social – threatens our idea
of social security – not offered treatment
(lock ‘em up) … Intentionality Disorder?
The road to Hell is paved with good
intentions ..(St. Bernard of Clairvaux C11)
Intentionally homeless - “not really homeless” – so not
offered housing - threatens ideas of what it is to be ‘housed’
(lock ‘em out)
Intentional self-harm [DSH] - “not really ill” - threatens our
idea of health - not offered healthcare (throw ‘em out)
Intentionally anti-social [ASBO]– threatens our idea of social
security – not offered treatment (lock ‘em up)
Intentionally ‘fat’: threatens our sense of ‘free-will and choice
(send ‘em away)
Intentionally stateless: seeking asylum and refuge from
excesses of global greed – not seen as persecutory or
traumatic (send ‘em back)
… Intentionality Disorder?
Knowing one’s place ...?
Anti-social people who do not see themselves as
patients, clients, services users, consumers and not
in need of ‘treatment’
Incapacity to take up sick role – be in their
‘proper place’ -‘unpopular patients’, ‘pds’,
‘inappropriate attenders’, ‘heartsink’, ‘revolving
door’, ‘patients that psychiatrists dislike’
Structural violence at heart of this cycle of
- intensifies distress and maladaptive behaviour
- impacts upon and impoverishes the capacity of
services to engage the excluded
The unremembered are dis-membered and
exiled to realms of Unthought known
Shame on who …?
I have yet to see a serious act of
violence that was not provoked by
the experience of feeling shamed
and humiliated, disrespected and
ridiculed, and that did not
represent the attempt to prevent or
undo this “loss of face” no matter
how severe the punishment
… (Gilligan, 1996: 110)
Evil doing …?
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return
W.H. Auden - September 1, 1939
“The centre cannot hold?”
‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world …
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are filled with passionate intensity’
W.B. Yeats – ‘The second coming’
Mere anarchy is loosed
upon the world …
Shame turns to contempt
Grief turns to grievance
Nihilistic as a defence against
Violation turns to violence
Violence is addictive and Addiction is
violent (DSH)
Leaning out last midnight on my sill
I heard the sighs of men who have not the skill
To speak of their distress, no nor the will …
Wilfred Owen - The Calls
(In)Security in a Time of Terror?:
Bauman and Liquid Modernity
Solid and liquid modernity and compulsive modernisation
 The emptying of the ‘agora’: “intermediary, public/private site where
.... private problems are translated into the language of public issues
and public solutions are sought, negotiated and agreed for private
 Post-Panoptical modernity: the end of the era of mutual engagement
 Liquid modernity: the revenge of nomadism over territoriality and
“it is the mind-boggling speed of circulation, of recycling, ageing,
dumping and replacement which brings profit today – not the durability
and lasting reliability of the product. In a remarkable reversal ... it is
the high and mighty of the day who resent and shun the durable and
cherish the transient, while it is those at the bottom of the heap who ...
struggle to force their possessions to last longer and render durable
“... Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9

Homelessness, Dangerousness and Disorder. The View