IV    About the method of the SPK

13.    Agitation as implication of "therapeutic", scientific and political work

The necessity to grip and to handle the economic, sociological, psychological and also the medical and political elements [Momente] which are involved in the reality of illness as a unity is indispensable for the agitation in the SPK, if the problem how to organize this practice [Praxis] has to be solved. "Therapeutic", scientific and political work constitute and determine one another. Firstly we had succeeded in proving that the categorical system of radical dialectics and of the political economy of Marx combined with the progressive elements of psycho-analysis were among all methods the only one method (Note 33) which worked, and after this success had become quite clear by experience we stepped forward in socializing all tools necessary in this context. This socialization took place and was a function of personal and group agitation and of our scientific working meetings for agitation, the latter three regarding the respective contents closely combined and tied to the dialectic method. The spring-up of those forms can be regarded as being historically determined by the progress and the development of the SPK at the University of Heidelberg and the specific conditions there. Due to this matter of fact there may follow in consequence for the one or the other case that one cannot expect that every type of socialist self-organization in the follow-up will start and develop in rather the same manner. Therefore, it will be the task of other socialist self-organization groups to examine our statements about illness as a productive force (force of production), as an economic and political factor, but nevertheless this examination can only start from self-practising under the determination of illness, following the necessities of ill people there, who need to be able, regarding the contents of our principles and methods, to develop them once more as being demanded by their specific situation related to the circumstances there and to work out these in the respective way. All things we have elaborated in this document are nothing but the expression of what the patients of the SPK Heidelberg, the first patients' self-organization in the FRG and (as far as we know) in the world, have worked out during the one and a half year of their collective practising. The reading and studying of these explanations, which has to be done by collective discussion in a collective frame, aims at the end to develop the self-organization of ill people further in order to become a revolutionary political power in the sense of multi-focal expansionism.

14.    Loneliness and isolation, details, "objectivity", opinions

Atomized and isolated patients turned in the SPK into cooperators – principle of cooperation. From the beginning it was self-evident for every patient that the contents of the personal and the group agitations – in so far as they were related to the so-called "personal" troubles as being the particularized and quite specific problems of everyone involved as well as to the necessities being the immediate need connected thereto – could be of interest only for those who were immediately involved (members of the personal agitations and of the group agitations): as being quite specific problems of everybody involved and regarding also the respective combined necessities being immediate needs themselves: based on the principle, that those "personal" problems were to be worked out, objectivized und generalized and not – as it is usual elsewhere – to be exploited and misused as a material for gossip, competition and moral judgement against single persons. By practising this principle as an imperious prerequisite for all going forward of the agitation processes in a progressive direction, useful for each one of the patients, we achieved to work out in a collective manner a clear consciousness about the dialectics of all those details (phenomena = Erscheinungen) and of the most encompassing whole (essence) [Wesen].

Single details being presented in a quite abstract form, be it symptoms and data – feigned to be "free of value" (means: merely objective) and to be regarded and classified in a more or less unrelated manner or which are high-handed and following specific interest situations, represented by diagnosing doctors, newspapermen, "scientists", who put them into preformed contexts, which look like laws and rules – it is this abstractivity of singularities in which consists indeed the life- and truth-inimical labelling scheme of traditional medicine, the "objectivity" of newspaper reports and the positivism of the jurists and "scientists". All "objectivity" in mass media affirms again and again the single person in all his activities being nothing but an "object" determined to perform nothing but his role and that all facts are subject to the interests of the agents of the maximization of profit and of the capital accumulation only in order to be inserted and tied to a certain categorical system. The so-called objectivity in mass media is a repressive tool of capitalism. This so-called objectivity is marked by a seeming separation of opinion and interest on the one hand and of activities and facts (past activities) on the other hand. The difference between opinion and fact is ruled and governed and is determined in any case by the opinion-makers who belong to the agency of capitalism. Thereby the actions, the facts are torn out of their objective, historic and social contexts and connections in order to be presented to an abstract "public area" in a form that lacks any specific mark of their facticity, of their having been worked out, of their having become a mere commodity product (faktum, lat. = being produced!), prepared to be presented to the public as what they call with quite some pride "the naked facts". If we happened to meet somebody who tells us: "so we just have to consider quite dispassionately only the true facts", then it is quite clear for us that we have happened to meet a person, who either has been made completely stupid, without hope of ever being recovered, or it's a person who is a criminal dangerous to the public.

The opinions suggested to the reader, to the listener or to the spectator, are masked as if they were a common truth but they are coined in advance and have got their signification and their importance by the title and by the fame of the respective opinion-holder, by the label "factual and technical authority".

The "little man" (Note 34) is urged, then, to express his opinion. The so-called constitutional right of freedom of opinion (elections, opinion research) is nothing but coercion, is nothing but violence against the nobodies and the dispossessed, for what is enforced in the case of opinions is only the interest of those who possess the commanding power over the means of production. As long as the opinions of the "little man" remain only opinions and nothing else, the commanders within the capitalist system like the Flick and Abs may look down very placidly on those opinions which can in no way become dangerous for the established system. Therefore, out of the desperate, inefficient opinions of the isolated people, there has to be developed firstly a collective consciousness. A thought remains only an idea or a theory as long as it is situated only in one or in several isolated heads that have nothing to do with each other. But situated in many heads, that is in people who talk to each other and who work together, this one thought has already achieved to be turned into a practice.

15.    Dyatic (personal) agitation and group agitation

The personal agitation (which here is defined as dyatic agitation because only two persons are immediately involved) has its orientation in the necessities expressed by the respective one patient, his problems and troubles, complaints and difficulties which are situated in his personality and which are to be determined there, with regard to their specific manner, just as these necessities, problems and so on present to him and just as they are expressed and offered by him in his language, special language and in his specific manner.

By means of personal agitation the way in which the materials are presented by the patient (be it: some kind of inhibition or acting) – the form – is as much material to be worked on by the interacting persons in agitation as the specific materials and contents expressed, by combining them to the form given to them by the patient expressing them.

In group agitation it is not primarily a particular patient who is focused upon. The concerns of the group agitation have to be determined by the group itself as an entirely collective matter, provided that the principle that he or she who seems to be the weakest member in the group in any way is the one at whom all orientation has to be directed in every proceeding of group agitation. Hence, in group agitation the form – the group process as such, as a whole – serves as the predominant element. Nevertheless, the weakest member of a group in agitation is not necessarily the one person who says almost nothing or who does not speak at all. On the contrary, it is equally possible that whoever talks a lot is the weakest member, trying to avoid revealing his true problems to other members of the group or that he or she is trying in this way to hide his or her inability to relate to others, both from them and from himself or herself. He or she talks about all other things and god and the world in order to express that only thing which he or she regards to be the most important for him or her, himself or herself as a phenomenon – which is intangible because consisting of a fallacy commonly produced by the capitalist system which never can produce neither a "self" nor a "him" nor a "her".

Furthermore, in personal agitation it is the group process which has to be worked out as an object in order to become one that is clearly understood and grasped, that means that all the anxieties, inhibitions and resistances that arose in the single person in connection with the group agitation have to be worked out and well understood during the following personal agitations. But what served as the basic background of interpretation for all the difficulties of the single person was in no means a scheme of the traditional psychiatric-psycho-analytic coordinating system which represents nothing more than some social factors such as family, working conditions and so on, about which everybody at first glance seems to be convinced that they must be taken for absolute factors, valid in all eternity, but, quite on the contrary, what in our work had to serve as an interpretative framework was nothing but the real changes that the collective had already achieved and the changes that were to be achieved further on.

For every new patient personal agitation was the first step which he or she did together with a well experienced other patient of the collective, well experienced in medical functions and methods [aerztlicher Funktionstraeger]. The initial examination served to get to know about general medical and psychiatric-neurological issues as well as for mutual information between the new-coming and the experienced patient regarding the patient’s motives for coming to the SPK and the working method of the patients' collective. The aim was that, if possible, all people would take part in personal agitation and in group agitation as well; if required, new groups (maximum 12 patients) were founded. In any case there should be on principle no group agitation without the possibility for every member to use and to experience also personal agitation.

The SPK worked seven days a week. All around the clock experienced patients were present in the work-rooms, ready and willing to accept everybody who came to the SPK or contacted the SPK by telephone. That is to say that everybody could come and go every time, for there didn't exist any special consulting hours, and also in group and personal agitations and in the scientific study groups there were always some experienced patients present for intervention if there eventually emerged a crisis or some other want or need. Day and night and any time Dr. Huber, now patient, most experienced in all medical and psychiatric functions, could be asked also by telephone. For newcomers among the patients there didn't exist any of the unproductive waiting periods anymore: the same day they came to the SPK for the first time they could be accepted there. On principle everybody was accepted. Due to the poor situation of psychiatry the emphasis regarding the new-coming patients was put on:

  1. patients who due to their bad economic situation could not afford a treatment by a practising specialist or those who already had been through such a treatment – possibly in a mental hospital,

  2. patients who had been rejected by state institutions (policlinic and others) or patients who had been confronted with a waiting-list of half a year or more and who had therefore been immediately sent to us by a nurse or by other persons there, be it because of compassion or some other motivation and

  3. patients who because of their political conviction and because of their experiences had learned that it was best for them to reject without exception every kind of therapy whatsoever, be it represented by institutions or by medical persons.

All group agitations took place once a week on the same day at a fixed time in the same room and were limited to a maximum of two hours.

In each agitation group there were some patients who had already had experience in the agitatorial process for at least three months. These patients were to be regarded each of them as a focus within the SPK in the sense of multi-focal expansionism, that is these patients initially took everything that came up by other group members and which had reached only the level of being phenomena in order to work it out so that it could be clearly conceived, while they themselves in turn learned to conceive the group as a focus and germinal nucleus that assembled and brought together their own expressions and activities to a point from which increasingly could arise warmth-activity. This was a process of mutual progress. Based on this method, it could be avoided that traditional group dynamic roles could neither develop nor become fixed (means: no hierarchy at all, if a method like that is applied).

Personal agitations (dyatic agitations) were arranged between the members in agitation on a voluntary basis and according to their needs, once or several times a week, if they had enough time. Also the necessities and the symptoms of the respective patient had to be considered as well as the time that both members in agitation were able to save; furthermore, they had to be aware of the needs of other patients, whether one or the other of them wanted to do personal agitation with one of the two members already engaged in the reciprocal agitation process; so that all these factors enabled everybody to take part in the decision about the duration of the personal agitation.

In the study groups [Arbeitskreise], which had to do with scientific matters, all patients could gradually acquire certain thoughts of theoretical knowledge to make them skillful enough to start personal agitation with the new-coming patients who joined the SPK. The average time, which was necessary for a patient to acquire the abilities for some kind of "activating" function with regard to personal and group agitation as well as the study groups occupied with scientific matters, was about three months at least, in each case depending on the interest and the participation of the involved patient. And so we also succeeded in receiving more and more patients and meanwhile the rush was getting bigger from day to day.

Shortly before our medical enemies and the police succeeded in stopping our work by their assaults, there were about five hundred patients who belonged to the SPK, and these five hundred patients, by means of the way of agitation described here, had achieved the capacity to now admit at least more than five hundred more patients. But despite all advantages and all the progress and all the achievements, the lack of rooms and money grew more urgent from day to day. Every time there was a group agitation, each patient who could afford it paid 5 DM [Deutsche Mark] into a common cashbox, if he or she could afford it and wanted to do so (the costs for a group therapy at the University, usually to be paid by a patient, at those times were at least 60 DM). The most interesting point here, in absolute contrast to institutionalized therapy, was not the question whether one pays or not, or whether one incurs debts or not, but to collectively learn which function money has in this society as an instrument of an insomuch imperceptible as obvious and ahistorical oppression, i.e. that it is taken for granted and as something without a beginning and without an end. These funds were submitted to the collective control by all patients after the SPK had started with its work and resistance, in order to provide nothing but the means to buy some expensive medicaments which only a few patients were not yet able to miss because they had gotten used to them by hospital or other doctors and were therefore now threatened with a serious crisis. And also these funds later on had to serve more and more to pay the costs of our public work, the only weapon we had at those times to fight against our aggressors in the Faculty of Medicine, in the Ministry of Culture and in the management of the University.

The study groups of the SPK took place regularly once a week at fixed times in the rooms of the SPK. They lasted at least two hours, 10 up to 30 patients participated. They were open to the public, that means everybody could participate, also persons who were not members of the SPK. During the last weeks of the SPK, there were 14 study groups, each of them working on a different scientific matter (Note 35).

16.    Multi-focal expansionism (MFE) replaces all state and private institutions right from the start

The continuous agitation inside the SPK was amplified by the agitation of the SPK to the outside: In this way the principle of multi-focal expansionism became a fact in reality, and in doing it everybody among the patients became a focus in that double sense of bringing oneself into the focus and of being a hearth at the same time: as a focus of all social contradictions which are expressed in the respective place of residence, family and place of work; as a hearth of revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary activity transforming those contradictions into consciousness and sharpening them by agitation.

The agitation concerned practical support for the patients in solving, for example housing problems; or family problems or housing problems of couples or of matrimony by visiting the partners involved in their homes and talking to them; baby-sitting during the parents' work-time or their attendance in the SPK; problem-solving agitation with parents or husbands of SPK members, whose parents or husbands had refused to join the SPK. As to their extent and their contents, these difficulties often had been caused and determined decisively by the rabble-rousing aspersion against the patients in press and on the radio, instigated by the Faculty of Medicine of the University and by the Ministry of Culture of the government, which had accompanied the development of the SPK from the start. To the agitatorial functions of the SPK also belonged the occasional help for pupils and students (class works, examinations) by means of coaching, a help for the victims of the established mechanisms of oppression in the factories for loyal subjects such as school and university, which sometimes provoked acute emergency situations and danger.

The further elaboration of this agitatorial practice in the SPK was preempted by the authorities, in breach of contract, by blocking the funds. Likewise, the Rectorate’s promise of free prescription was not fulfilled from the outset or actively sabotaged in conjunction with the Medical Faculty.

But the SPK intensified its progress in practising agitation and managed to overcome this, so that such needs for help could be reduced very rapidly for most patients, especially, because those concerned learned by experience in a very concrete and sensual manner [sinnlich konkret] that such assistance was nothing more than a pure crisis intervention.

And thus the respective functions within the SPK were progressively turned into the agitation of the SPK towards the outside; that means that despite their situation at home and in their family as well as at their places of work the patients were ready and well prepared to get along with their landlords and neighbours or with other members of their family and their colleagues, and in addition they were also prepared to agitate independently and with much efficiency in their environment.

Once again: In this way the principle of multi-focal expansionism became a fact in reality, and in doing it everybody among the patients became a focus in that double sense of bringing oneself into the focus and of being a hearth at the same time: as a focus of all social contradictions which are expressed in the respective place of residence, family and place of work; as a hearth of revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary activity transforming those contradictions into consciousness and sharpening them by agitation.

That way, the colleagues at the places of work and sometimes even the family members could be activated and mobilized, and in consequence they either joined the SPK or were trying to put into effect their awakened and concretized need for collective political practice through the principle of self-organization elsewhere.

17.    Alien determination – scientific study groups

To do science for human beings means: to turn scientific methods into tools apt to abolish the life-denying relations of production. To apply scientific methods (critique by practice) means: to review and to supersede [aufheben] and abolish all foundations and functions of bourgeois science by the method of dialectics. The practice of the SPK must not be misunderstood – as it often happened – as an alternative directed against the ruling science (the science of those who rule) or even as an alternative directed against bourgeois psychiatry; rather, the SPK-practice constitutes not only critical reflection of this science, but in tendency the abolition and overcoming of it. Our starting point was that everything the consciousness contains, that every kind of knowledge is determined by upbringing and education and by habitualization in the one sense that every human life-energy all over has been coerced to be turned into a totalitarian functionalization for the capitalist system (that the development of the relations of production lags behind the development of the productive forces is a true expression of this fact). This alienated and alienating determination [Fremdbestimmung] can only be perceived and brought to consciousness in the process of its change and its abolishment by developing its progressive aspect: that is the consciousness of the single isolated people as social beings who realize that they have nothing to lose but their chains; that only through the negation of their being thoroughly nothing but products of this totalitarian alien determination the lonely and isolated ones find their collective self-realization [Selbstverwirklichung] by constituting the class of the ill ones as the revolutionary class.

To those who don't need university studies as a preparation for their functioning in the economic process (meaning their more or less "qualified" exploitability, the so-called "profession") – and that is the overwhelming majority of the population – science represents and gives the tremendous impression of an alien force, which, therefore, they are not able to understand and which they are used to take for a social, even hostile force, they are unable to put under control, an impression that is quite consistent and in line with reality. It is essential to work out together with them, starting from their immediate needs, the contradictions between what science is in fact and reality and what is its utility or utility value as science for human beings.

In this respect, the collective working out of the Dialectics of Hegel and of the basic facts of Political Economy has proved to be a useful and indispensable method. The subject of collective reading and discussion in the SPK study groups were "The Phenomenology of the Spirit" and "Science of Logic" by Hegel, "Capital" by Marx, and the "Introduction to Political Economy" by Rosa Luxemburg, "The Invasion of Compulsory Sex-Morality" and "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" by Wilhelm Reich, "History and Class Consciousness" by Georg Lukács, "Basic Study about Utility Value" by Horst Kurnitzky. Also texts by Mao, Marcuse, Lenin, Spinoza and others were read by many patients and introduced in the work groups and were subject to collective discussion. Essential in the discussion of the contents of those texts was always how they could be related to what the patients were feeling and experiencing in their present collective practice in the SPK and what was currently happening at their places of work.

Therefore, the focus was on the practical value of those texts, that is their true utility value, and how their themes and subjects could be applied in the collective practice, quite in contrast to what students are accustomed to do in philosophic and other workshops, where only the exchange value of those texts as "literature" for doing comparative studies is of interest, everything based on the principle of competition, a working style that is favouring the hierarchical structure of a seminar with a "socialist schooling instructor" or some other kind of "dictating leader".

By studying those texts in the work groups of the SPK, texts which seemed at the first glance to be very difficult, soon polarization arose between those who believed or pretended to understand all contents prima vista and those who were paralyzed by the verbose flood of words, the meaning of which seemed to be entirely incomprehensible to them.

Proceeding from the collective awareness of the primary role of the needs in the work of the SPK, a very useful protest behaviour could be activated in both groups of participants, in those who were ultimately frustrated due to their academic formation and in those who were initially paralyzed by a real inflation of words and thoughts that was overwhelming them.

In this way, the object role of everyone with respect to science was reproduced once again to the point that it now became quite evident as a real fact to all participants in those work groups, and by their protest against this object role the real overcoming of science in and during its appropriation in the collective was made possible.

This collective re-appropriation and overcoming of science and the process that leads to it is itself already a step forward, a concrete transition to get away from the passive consumer attitude to the active development of the dialectical unity between the consumer and the object of consumption, an active and activating abolition of the subject-object-relationship of science and human beings, done and achieved by the patients in the re-appropriation and functionalization of science according to their true needs.

18.     Agitation and action

There exists the following dictamen by Spinoza: "I say, that we act, if there happens something in ourselves or in our surroundings, of which we on our side are the only and adequate cause, that is if there follows something out of our nature within us or out of us which only by this cause can be recognized clearly and distinctly; but in comparison with that I say, that we suffer, if there happens something in us or if there follows something out of our nature, of which we are only a partial cause." (Note 36).

From all we have stated so far there follows as irrefutable consequence that and how suffering has to be turned into activity.

The needs of the single, isolated one have to be taken up and at first accepted as being nothing but products of the production in which they were manufactured and from which they take their origin: they cannot be measured by a standard imposed on them from the outside; rather, the only important thing is that these needs are to be developed in collective work by unfolding the contradictions inherent in them. And by that these contradictions are impelled beyond themselves so that each one becomes aware that the necessity to turn all existing relations upside down, that is to bring about their revolutionary change, is also his and her own concern.

Therefore, it has to be developed and worked out that the relations between the isolated and lonely ones are nothing but relations between the one who is an object and the other, who is in the same situation of being an object too in the relations surrounding him, meaning that they both relate to each other as pure objects mutually; that consciousness and body are always and in any case running the program of capitalism; that there exists an identity between the misery of everyone and the social contradictions in totality; and that the revolution from being an object to becoming a subject (from being a thing to becoming a human being), which is indeed the first true event in history, the first step to human history which merits the name history, can only be the consequence of an effort made by a collective.

In this way, the inhibition of protest, hitherto represented by the symptoms, is resolved in the process-oriented proceeding of the dialectics between the single, isolated one and society; starting from the affects (emotions, feelings = Affekte, here) of the ill people (that means starting from those ones, who have become conscious of their suffering) there are released the energies that turn sufferers into activists, and it is precisely in this that consists the explosive material, the coming to a head, which will smash the ruling system of permanent murder. And thus agitation as such is itself action, the setting in motion of the unified process of revolutionary change that involves both, consciousness and reality. Agitation and action are thus identical, but also different from one another, just as the dialectics of being and consciousness are. When such an agitation becomes efficient, it is quite clear that the class enemy soon will start its counter-reactions, but the process as a whole and unified one moves forward and beyond itself even in spite of the reactions of the class enemy.

In the light of these experiences, the class enemy is characterized best by the fact that he publicly and legally sets in motion the police apparatus, the bureaucratic machinery and armies against those who develop their activities in a very consistent manner out of their individual sufferings by realizing that their individual sufferings in the society are but pre-fabricated.


Chapter V