“Can we remain a democratic society if we refuse to allow people to control their own brains?” (43) is a critical question asks by Hughes in his article “Being Happier”. In posthuman society, it becomes more and more problematic that human is controlled by social domination and gradually lose individualism valued by humanism. According to Veenhove, “people who feel they are in more control of their lives are happier than those who think external event control their lives,” (50), that is, human prefer still prefer individualism and fear losing their power to domain their own lives. However, in “Being Happier,” Hughes points out that people tend to rely on drugs to make them maintain happiness, the happiness of the physical as well as the mental. If we must take drugs controlled by physicians to pursue the so called “happiness”, it is paradox that we can sustain democratic society valued freedom and equality. How can it deprive of people’s right to control themselves and sustain democratic society simultaneously?
I think Foucault illustrates such a paradox in his article “The Birth of Asylum”. Foucault proposes that our society gradually becomes an asylum which marks the boundary of madness and normal, or we can say that it differentiates Hughes’s so called happiness and unhappiness. Asylum is just like the prototype of posthuman society where people rely on the authority to sustain happiness or normal. Nevertheless, people’s intention to rely on physicians or judge doesn’t mean that they abandon individualism. Actually, asylum admits people’s free will while simultaneously controls their minds by means of guilt and fear. According to Foucault, asylum “organized that guilt; it organized it for the madman as a consciousness of himself, and as a nonreciprocal relation to the keeper; it organized it for the man of reason as an awareness of the other, a therapeutic intervention in the madman’s existence.” (146) By internalizing the guilt and fear of madness, we will pursue normal or happiness, gradually embracing the democratic society.
In Maniac, we just witness a vivid posthuman society, especially the section of NPB’s drug trail. In the scene of U.L.P.’s introduction video, the physicians introduce the three kinds of pills A, B, C, agonia, behavioral, and confrexia respectively. By taking these drugs, as Freudian discourse, people can undergo their trauma, get rid of the defense of minds, and confront the agonies. The physicians, just like the judge in asylum, control people’s minds and even revise people memories. However, Annie participates U.L.P.’s. trial voluntarily, totally out of her free will. Despite of the threat of losing herself, it can’t constrain Annie’s desire to relieve her pain and pursue “happiness”. She wants to get rid of the trauma; she wants to overcome the fear and guilt.
In the democratic society, no one wants to be a maniac, indeed.