Psycurity, 2014-2018

Psycurity: Colonialism, Paranoia, and the War on Imagination

Explanations for white supremacist attacks typically direct attention toward an unreasonable, paranoid state of mind and away from the neocolonial security state that made them. In response, I read paranoia as a ‘dis-ease’ of coloniality by following its circulation through the ultimate place of reason, indeed a key arbitrator of it: Psychology.

With participant observation and interview material, I trace the spinning cogs and affective coils of the prodromal movement – a program of research that, capturing potential psychosis, illustrates the serpentine workings of a contemporary control society. I argue that, within a context of ‘psycurity’, paranoia is able to hide as reasonable suspicion, predict the future, brand threatening bodies, and grow through fear, thereby seeping into the cracks of white supremacy, stabilizing it. Recognizing this itself as a paranoid reading, I then engage Coatlicue – a goddess of the serpent – to show how paranoia may contain a decolonizing potential: imagination. With this ‘otherworldly correspondence’ detained at the gates of psycurity, I undertake a creative apprenticeship to learn how to re-turn paranoia’s roots and breathe new life into a suffocating milieu. Demanding both servitude to decolonizing movements and a ‘weaponless’ praxis, the tactic that emerges offers to revive the psykhe – breath – of psychologies, too.

In calling for psychologies to leave Psychology’s comfort zone and make space for imagination, my spiraling, reflexive process attempts the same. Pushed by the genocidal legacy of my settler and intellectual ancestry, I take guidance from decolonizing scholarship, feminist science studies, and visual art – as well as my own activist experiences – to experiment with response-ability in times of intensifying white supremacy, of breathlessness.