Friday, 5 May 2017

Does There Need to be Paranoia in Practice-led Research

Response to David Akenson’s Lecture: ‘Suspicious Minds: Lizard People and Research’ 2016

It’s interesting listening to David talk about the presence of paranoia in research and I was trying to see how this can apply to my own research. How does the presence of a paranoid enquiry effect the qualitative and quantitative research elements for example? I know what paranoia is, but felt like I had to see the exact meaning to qualify its entire effect on any line of research. I looked up ‘paranoid’ first and then ‘paranoia’.

adjective: paranoid
characterized by or suffering from the mental condition of paranoia.
"paranoid schizophrenia"
unreasonably or obsessively anxious, suspicious, or mistrustful.
"you think I'm paranoid but I tell you there is something going on"
irrationally anxious, over-suspicious, paranoiac, suspicious, mistrustful, distrustful, fearful, insecure;
"they probably don't mean me at all—I'm probably just being paranoid"
noun: paranoid; plural noun: paranoids
a person who is paranoid.
"further accusations would sound like the ramblings of a paranoid"

noun: paranoia
  1. a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically worked into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.
o    unjustified suspicion and mistrust of other people.
"mild paranoia afflicts all prime ministers"

For me these definitions confirmed some of the uncomfortable feeling I had when David explained this paranoid element of his research or of proposed research. How does this fit? I think I know what he’s pushing at; the quizzical element of research that we must consider when doing so. But paranoia, for me, is a construct that draws in too many conditions related to an imbalanced mind. Delusions, persecution, jealousy and such seem far removed from say the quantitative research elements we have examined so far. Quantitative research method is not necessarily employee by the practice-led researcher of course but it is still part of the foundation of the research that is evolving into a Practice-led field.

I think for this to have a place in practice-led research it could in a sense jeopardise some of the hard fought for credibility that the field is starting to acquire (based upon what was said in the lecture). To have a place it would, I believe, need to be clearly defined in the methodology as an element that is being researched rather than a method to achieve a result. Researching paranoia and its presence could be an incredibly interesting and fruitful endeavour, especially as society increasingly seems to embrace this mode.

I think a clearer resolution on this paranoid element would be a rewording to potentially help us anchor this strain which runs through an inquiring mind and further remove it from an irrational interpretation. Potential it may be classed as ‘diagnostic reinterpretation’ or ‘polemic reasoning’ which maybe too harsh or ‘instinctual suspicion’ to place it within a research frame work that seems to take responsibility for its use of language. I am therefore unsure about this presence of paranoia, but does that make me paranoid? Or simply instinctively suspicious? And are researchers’ paranoid and therefore ‘unreasonably or obsessively anxious, suspicious, or mistrustful’ or are they simply open to many possibilities that higher research reveals?

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