Labyrinths of the Mind

The Self in the Postmodern Age

By Daniel R. White & Gert Hellerich

Subjects: Psychology
Series: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture
Paperback : 9780791437889, 221 pages, April 1998
Hardcover : 9780791437872, 221 pages, April 1998

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Table of contents


Introduction: Into the Labyrinth:
The Self enters the Postmodern Condition

A Sketch of the Labyrinth

The Metaphysical Triad of Modernity

Chapter 1. Nietzsche at the Mall:
Deconstructing the Consumer

The Church of the Consumer

Decentering the Consumer Subject

Learning and the Self-Transformation of the Consumer

The Will to Power and the Will to Play

New Forms of Empowerment

Interlude: Nietzsche Goes to Hell (and so do we)

Beyond Good and Evil: fröhliches Kulturmachen

Chapter 2. They Might be Giants:
Mental Patients in Rebellion

Psychiatry in the Labyrinth: Deconstructing Deviancy

Postmodern Reflections on Modern Psychiatry: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)

The Foundations of Modern Science

The Lineage of Modern Psychiatry

Dissidents from Scientific Orthodoxy


Choose a Case

Postmodern Critics of Modernism

Insanity, Autopoiesis and the Opening of the Lifeworld

A Rose by Any Other Name

Chapter 3. Postmodern Metamorphosis:
The Transformation of the Self from Modern to Postmodern Forms, or The Power of the Uninterpretable in Kafka's Verwandlung

Marxist Criticism

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Deleuze and Guattari: Toward a Postmodern Landscape

Postmodern Metamorphosis

Chapter 4. Nietzsche at the Altar:
Situating the Devotee


Event-Scene I: The Situation: A Rock Concert

Event-Scene II: Situation: War Rages

The Neocapitalist Imagology of the Sacred, or, Bush Does Baghdad : The TV Mini Series

Event-Scene III: The Dionysia

The Devotee of Life, or, God Quits Moralizing, Gets a Gender Change and Cultivates a Sense of Humor

Event-Scene IV: Encore

The Philosophy of Laughter, or, Adam Flushes Money and Eve Ditches Bridge when they discover Jouissance

Chapter 5. Nietzsche's Joyous Health and Dionysian Ecology

Nietzsche on the Table? Critical Narratives of a Postmodern "Im-Patient"

Nietzche's Case

The Narrative of Illness and Well-Being in Nietzsche's Autobiographical Writings

On the sick Bed?: Nietzsche's "Joyous Illness"

"Diverse" versus "Normal" Health

Die Fröliche Gesundheit: Toward a New Philosophy of Health

A Genealogy of the Sick Bed: The Birth of the Clinic

Climbing the Magic Mountain: Der Zauberberg as the Cultural Construction of Illness/Health

Nietzsche Breaks out of the Sanatorium

Off the Table and On the Road: The Will to Power

The Ecological Self: Humanity and Nature in Nietzsche and Goethe

The Ecological Sensibility: Nietzsche and Goethe on Mind and Nature

Will the Genuine Übermensch Please Rise?

Ecological Premonitions: Nietzsche, Goethe and Dionysian Ecology

Romanticism and Classicism: Toward a Genealogy of Cybernetics

The Ethical Self: Beyond Good and Evil

Toward a Poststructuralist Cybernetics

The Will to Life: The Ecological Übermensch


Creating Alternatives: Toward a New Joyous Science


Works Cited


Applies postmodern theory to the working assumptions and consequent practices of therapy in various disciplines, from clinical psychology to schooling.


Labyrinths of the Mind critically engages and creatively transforms the patterns of postmodern culture. It envisions strategies of self-discovery emerging in our era as a labyrinth, whose design evolves as we explore it. Nietzsche serves as our guide throughout the book as we wander the shopping mall, travel on an odyssey with Franz Kafka, critically explore the disorders of psychiatry and psychotherapy, attend a Nine Inch Nails concert during the Gulf War, wake on a medical examination table, and contemplate ourselves in the mirror of the biosphere.

Daniel R. White is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of Postmodern Ecology: Communication, Evolution, and Play, also published by SUNY Press. Gert Hellerich is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bremen, Germany. He has published two books in Germany on social and postmodern issues.


"Labyrinths of the Mind traces the archaeology of 'the self' within the context of shifts in communication and culture and breakdowns in modernist institutions. Drawing on Lacan, Foucault, Kafka, Kristeva, Bateson, and, especially, Nietzsche, its central move is to open up ideas of self-formation, what it terms, in its central metaphor, 'the postmodern labyrinth of the self. ' At the heart of the book is a critique of the human sciences for what Foucault has termed its 'technologies of control. ' Situating postmodernism as 'a radically enlightened diversity of movements,' the authors explore the effects of this decentralization on the 'self. ' Their particular interest is to move the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and therapy in postmodern directions. White and Hellerich offer a masterful discussion of Nietzsche's seeming contradictions in his revaluations of consciousness and will, reason and truth. " — Patti Lather, Ohio State University

"This book is full of provocative flashes of brilliance, of odd juxtapositions of various authors, ideas, outcomes. " — Mary Gergen, Pennsylvania State University