Submitted by Hibiscus_Syrup in Architecture

In Psychoanalysis and Transversality (1972), which assembles Guattari’s papers and interventions from the 1960s, Guattari reflects on the difficulty of bringing genuine change to the structure and operation of psychiatric institutions. He identifies two dimensions in psychiatric institutions, “a verticality that you find for example in an organizational diagram with a pyramidal structure (directors, subdirectors, etc.),” and “a horizontality like that which takes form in the hospital courtyard, in the ward for the disturbed, even more so in the wards for the senile, that is, a certain state of affairs in which things and people arrange themselves as best they can in the situation in which they find themselves” (PT 79/17). The problem, as he sees it, is to change both vertical hierarchies of authority and horizontal modes of interaction, to put into effect a “maximum communication … among different levels and above all in different directions” (PT 80/18). In a hospital, “the ‘coefficient of transversality’ is [measured by] the degree of blindness of the staff,” and the modification of the institution involves an intensification of transversality such that blindness decreases and there is “a structural redefinition of the role of each individual and a reorientation of the whole group [ensemble]” (PT 80/18). Transversality is “a contrary and complementary dimension to the generative structures of pyramidal hierarchization and sterilizing modes of transmitting messages” (PT 84/22). By increasing an institution’s coefficient of transversality Guattari hopes to form a “group-subject” (as opposed to a “subjected group”), one capable of shaping itself according to its own needs and desires.

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