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I must pass through the concept of Play traversed in Structure, Sign, and Play as a mechanism to supplement the finitude of language. I will gesture to the notes in Derrida’s margins re-working the content of Levi-Strauss ‘The point being that this word, both in English and French, means “to supply a deficiency,” on the one hand, and “to supply something additional,” on the other’ (e.g., Derrida 1950). Beyond the definition of Play, Derrida provides the moment in which this slippage in language becomes a danger to society. —J. Peters, “Contesting Admission”

Every day I searched for answers, and every day I became increasingly agitated. My days on campus were filled with classes and hours in the library spent researching and working on my manuscript, “Contesting Admission.” I knew my friends were unlikely to whisk me away to Atlantic City for a weekend anytime soon, and the grueling schedule I had imposed on myself forced me to scale back on any recreation time I might have had. I needed to find a way to distance myself from the madness on campus, to escape and preserve what was left of my serenity. I had enough momentum to keep up with my courses, my manuscript, my research, and my new life as a non-matriculated graduate student. So I drove to unwind, sometimes for hours. I thought of it as patrolling, as a way to get to know the outlying community. I figured it was appropriate because I would be completing a Ph.D. program in the southern tier.

One such drive took me to Manifest Lane Park. I’ll never forget it. I had been driving aimlessly for six hours, and I was deep into Pennsylvania, generally following the Blue Route. In case you aren’t familiar with the Pennsylvania interstate system, back in the 1950s, highway engineers sketched three different routes for highways connecting Philadelphia’s western suburbs.

To the east was the Red or Yellow Route. To the west was the Green Route. The Blue Route, U.S. 81, was in between the two. In those days, Facebook was just becoming popular, and I became obsessed with sending out status messages, which coincided and intensified my growing delusion of how important it was to signal my general state and condition to people I knew. I was also preoccupied with sexual fantasies then, so I chose Exit 69 to seek shelter. Exit 69 also led to an area called Colonial Commons, which meshed well with my other obsession, King George III.

After exiting, I drove around until I found a small park. It seemed like the perfect place to rest, take pictures, and figure out a plan. I got out of the car and began arranging items in different positions—coins, papers, and other office supplies—to signal to the world that I was there, fully aware of the world around me, ready to interact, to watch and observe. The truth was that I was so confused, disconnected, and out of it that I was walking around a closed park hundreds of miles away from safety, and all without a plausible explanation. I walked around the park for a while before realizing I needed to rest. Then I drove to a nearby hotel.

I pulled up to a giant sign that read REGISTRATION.

Something seemed right about staying there. My thinking was so disorganized and so intense that almost everything seemed like it had a hidden meaning. While I was in the lobby checking in, I heard a noise from a balcony. I thought it was the FBI or government following my travels and investigating my loitering charge from the English department. I didn’t realize it yet, but icons, religion, and history were all beginning to collide. I began to hear, think about, and approach the world based on these new and emerging delusions, and they pulled me into a distorted reality.

To cope with the collision of thoughts and my louder mind, I filled the tub with cool water and lay down, trying to slow my thoughts. I gathered together and took whatever medication I had left—random pills that were loose in my bag and strewn about the floor of my car. Once the voices softened, I slept, waking up to a new world—one for my eyes only, for this living nightmare was only beginning to fully form.

In the morning, feeling generally rested, I drove back to New London. The mix of medication helped me feel a little better, at least well enough to drive.

I headed back to Liberty along the Blue Route, posting on Facebook about my safety and a successful trip.

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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