Chronicle of an illness | Profile

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A sensation of acid burning in the limbs, twisted and burning muscles, the impression of being glassy and fragile, a miedo, a retraction before the movement and the noise. An unconscious disarrangement of the march, of the gestures. Numbness located in the epidermis, but felt as the radical amputation of a limb and presenting to the brain only images of thready and cottony limbs. A paroxysmal pain of the skull, a sharp pressure of the nerves, a head kicked by horses”.

Bad Words, Less Words, this is more escuchó from a psychiatrist to receive the marselles poet Antonin Artaud, author of Descripción de un esta estado Financeiro, in his consulting room. And the incognita becomes automatic: was this anomaly of psychic origin, organic chance?

Son of cousins ​​hermanos and hereder of a venereal disease, the first disorders of a “nervous” nature began in the condition of a probable sequel to syphilitic meningitis that he had suffered during the five years of his life, in 1901. his family) was affected by a stutter, a “heaviness of the tongue”. Advanced in adolescence, he experienced what he described as “cerebral pain” (the brain mass lacks pain receptors). At the age of 19 and a strong depression resulting from a traumatic sexual debut, he was hospitalized for the first time in a mental clinic. Shortly after, he joined the army as a conscript and was licensed for a few months with a diagnosis of “sleepwalking”. For then, the malaise that afflicted him seemed to have become complex, perhaps now he could specify it: “An active void that translates into a vertiginous imagination of the front part of the face”. The facial neuralgias that accompanied this emptiness resulted in a “mental crushing” that prevented him from coordinating ideas. “Desperately abnormal psychological and physiological circumstances”, he would summarize, años later, in the open letter “A la gran noche o el engaño surrealista”.

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They started hospitalizations in different clinics for the mentally ill (including one in Switzerland), with a cure of nerves in the Pyrenees and attempts to calm the pain in the thermal waters of French cities such as Bagnères-de-Bigorre. This period would culminate in a mental hospital in Villejuif, in charge of an avant-garde psychiatrist.

In 1922, he was addicted to opium, a substance that, also under the form of laudanum, he used to relieve his malaise. The remedy would end up overcoming the illness, according to the various detoxifications he would attempt.

“There is a strange relationship between my mental dispositions and the consistency of my flesh”, he said in a letter to his beloved in 1923. After the periods of improvement, there were now flashes, palpitations and paralysis in the legs. Consultations with neurologists and “inyecciones” took place. She compared herself to Poe’s Roderick Usher. In 1927, when he was convinced of the organic origin of the illness (¿Neurosyphilis accident?), he gave an opportunity for psychoanalysis. The exégesis of the book of letters Correspondance avec Jacques Rivière, by then published, would serve for a pair of psychiatrists to diagnose his schizophrenia. In 1929 he told his head doctor, Dr Allendy: “Violent bites move from arms to legs. The vertebral column is filled with crujidos”. He adds a mental weakness caused by “la compresión insoportable de la cabeza y los omóplatos”. In 1932 he tried acupuncture.

In the midst of a mystical delirium – he believed he was in possession of the mythical “staff of San Patricio” – he traveled to Ireland in 1937. . He floated off the boat in Le Havre in a shirt of strength, sporting a supposed psychotic state with ideas of persecution. Interned by court order, his mother found him months later in an asylum in Normandy. The deterioration was such that she did not recognize her son.

In the Sainte-Anne asylum they diagnosed “megalomania”. In the hospital of Ville-Evrard it was declared “incurable”. He spent his days punished in a dungeon, in a state of malnutrition. He had lost teeth, babeaba al hablar. He blamed the hechizos who launched against certain sects of initiates. He intended to send to the “initiate” Adolf Hitler, in the midst of the Second World War, a copy of Las nuevas revelaciones del ser, a booklet of esoteric poetry published in 1937, accompanied by a letter in an ironic tone. In 1932, the Führer and Artaud became acquainted in a bar in Berlin, during a residency of the latter as a film actor.

He took it four years ago when his friends were transferred to the asylum for the insane in Rodez, where a psychiatrist named Gaston Ferdière promised to treat his “chronic delirium” with humanity.

Without doubt, the art therapy that implied a return of Artaud to the sketch formed part of a “human” treatment, but it could not be decided that the same thing as the shock therapy with cardiazol, a derivative of camphor used to provoke convulsions that, it was believed , could counteract schizophrenia. Also from the decades of electroshocks that Doctor Ferdière decided to give him (one left him as a result of a fractured vertebra). He would write in the poem Alienation y black magic: “Pasé por eso y no lo lo voy a olvidar./ The magic of electro-choc supura un stertor, / ahoga al conmocionado en ese stertor por el que / se deja la vida.” Artaud, in addition, was prohibited, ni siquiera could sign the contracts for the edition of his books without authorization from his official curator.

Empezó el uso de la glossolalia en sus poems (“the reche modo/ to edire/ de za/ tau dari/ do padera coco”), which Ferdière, perhaps confusing him with the neurological upheaval of the scansión, in the dudó en consider un síntoma más of your illness. A visit to the manuscripts revealed the work of his patient with the phonemes.

In 1946, his friends managed to raise funds to move him to a “house of health” in Ivry-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, where a completely relaxed system of exits was guaranteed.

Then came the days of “Artaud el Mômo”, an appellation of his invention, which some understood as “loco”, others as “niño” or “sacred idiot” in the marselles dialect, and which él mismo defined as “between the child (môme) and la momia (momie)”. He wrote, published, led a bountiful social life and maintained his pain with periodic doses of opium and chloral hydrate, a hypnotic drug that wiped him out in a comatose state. But the use of these substances is not free for any organism, and the deterioration of a 50-year-old man with the appearance of an old man is not stopped.

After the disgust that it implied that the radio broadcast of his controversial poem was prohibited. The death was ready, March 4, 1948. He found him in the morning with the gardener at the clinic, sitting at the foot of the bed, naked and holding a shoe in one hand. He had once said in public that he would not die accosted.n

*Writer. He is the author of the novels Petite morte y Dormiré cuando est muerto. He has just published Cloacina (Del Fondo).

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