Last year I spent a week in a psychiatric hospital. My electrical cords and anything I might conceivably fashion into a noose were confiscated; my medication was administered to me at precisely scheduled times from a window at the nurses’ station and my movements were restricted. In between substandard meals at the cafeteria, attendance at support groups and visits from my mother I read Mary MacLane’s 1902 memoir I Await the Devil’s Coming in my room and filled my moleskine diary with notes.
But, I would still contend, practitioners need theory. Urgently. I can’t talk about being raped as structural and systemic, for example, without engaging in some level of abstraction- like having a theory of patriarchy or some working hypothesis about the relationship between structure and agency. Theory is a kind of action or at the very least the intentionality behind political action.