Doctoral Project Artistic Research

Alcheothapy – The Myth of Psychotherapy and Alchemic Alternatives for the Avoidant

Imani Rameses

Alcheothapy – The Myth of Psychotherapy and Alchemic Alternatives for the Avoidant

Are you going to therapy? Usually shared only with the closest of confidants, the need for therapy has transversed through history from being an indication of insanity, a social taboo, to being a badge of honor worn to display one’s own mature choice to “get help”. Even though psychoanalysis, originating in the Jewish culture, provided insights to challenge the predominantly Christian rationalized mind, its popularization within Western liberal societies rendered it exclusive to benefiting “certain” bodies/minds (able-bodied-cis-white bourgeois) while overshadowing other forms of knowledge, including ancient alchemical practices.
For the Ph.D. in practice, I intend to use my participatory performance practices (PPP) as a platform from which to explore the interweavings of my background knowledge in cognitive science with my ancestral ancient alchemic knowledge to design what I call alcheopathy, an alchemic alternative to present-day psychotherapy.
Therapy has become ubiquitous in its societal impact yet rarely does one ask [1]: how have modern psychotherapeutic developments epistemically impacted and consequently imprinted upon the societal models of the human mind and culture? How would alternatives such as alcheopathy be executed if its ontological roots were grounded in other indigenous notions of being human? Furthermore, what are the epistemic and cultural implications of using PPP to make alchemic-based alternatives to psychotherapy?
The development of alcheopathy will be contextualized within the everyday, enabling explicit engagement with the quotidian body/mind when it enters states of discomfort. I will be researching the particular commonplace of everyday life: the mirror and mirror-gazing [2]the prolonged act of looking in the mirror which induces various states of discomfort and consequential avoidant coping mechanisms. My body/mind will be used as the foundation of bio-ethnographical investigation of how the combination of cognitive psychological research on mirror gazing and Black Atlantic/Native American alchemical practices with reflective surfaces can function as a basis from which I build choreographic scores that play with the discomforts of mirror gazing. The research’s aim is two-fold: 1) analyze and critique the assumptions of the psychoanalytic narrative of the human mind and suggest alchemic alternatives to the social, psychological, and cognitive scientific discourse, and 2) provide accessible game-like embodied-based alt-therapy tools in the form of (PPP) that can be used in therapeutic and broader social environments i.e. organizations and institutions so as to diversify the contemporary mental and physical health narrative.

 

[1] Marks, S. (2017). Psychotherapy in historical perspective. History of the Human Sciences, 30(2), 3-16.

[2] Mirror gazing is a meditative technique in which you spend a lengthened period of time looking at your reflection. Although this technique is thought to be a modern meditative practice it was used by many ancient cultures as a part of the ritual and spiritual traditions.