This article offers some observations about the contemporary state of psychiatric discourse and discursive power by drawing on critical and postcolonial theories. In doing so, it is an attempt to demonstrate the crucial contemporary relevance and value of postcolonial scholarship for the clinical ‘psy’ professions, in particular psychiatry and clinical psychology. Focal examples are two discursive phenomena in which an addressee experiences the originator of communication as ethereal or absent: hearing voices and ghostwriting. Drawing on the works of Bhabha and Spivak—as well as Derrida and Foucault—I argue that a postcolonial lens reveals hierarchical assumptions within the psy discourses that subjugate content (messages) to the media (or mediums) by which they arrive. A critical analysis of these topics has the potential to inform the ways in which we think about experiences of social marginalization, stigma, discrimination, and oppression in the clinical encounter and broader mental health work. In addition, these topics highlight the thematic centrality of mourning, haunting, authorship, and voicelessness to contemporary psychiatric discourse and practice. Through these reflections, I also posit a means of reconsidering the relationship between psychiatry and its own critical or antipsychiatric specters.
Clinical discourse, hauntology, psychosis, subaltern, subjugated knowledges, unhomely