'Mad' Identity / Language / Theory

MPG/IoP presentation

Those who know me know that I’m anything but lacking in ambivalent feelings with respect to user/survivor research, experiential privilege and self-positioning.  (Though it’s probably fair enough to underscore that I’m equally ambivalent about nearly everything I care deeply and passionately about.)

The talk I’ll be giving on Tuesday (Sep. 10th) for the Maudsley Philosophy Group (at the Institute of Psychiatry in London), represents my latest attempt to think through some of the philosophical and theoretical issues involved in demands for greater user/survivor inclusion or leadership–not only in applied social science research, but, perhaps more pressingly, theory.  See a draft Powerpoint here.

One issue that the presentation has forced me to reflect on at greater length, is the pronounced difference between “madness” as a sociopolitical minority identity and other, more established, more stable, categories of belonging and difference (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical and developmental disabilities; even class).  The problem of what it *is* we’re actually talking about when we speak of “madness” or “user/survivors” is thus not only difficult and conceptually/culturally overdetermined, but seems to constitute a kind of true aporia; an impasse, perhaps in the absolute sense.  Any argument we might make for user/survivor/mad involvement, that is, simultaneously depends on or assumes a certain coherence, entitativity or, minimally, possibility of identifiable boundaries, and at the same time forces us to concede the structural (and also sociopolitical) impossibility of ever establishing such boundaries (to say nothing of coherence).  Where does this leave us….?

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8 thoughts on “MPG/IoP presentation

  1. Hi, Nev
    hope you are ok.
    It was lovely to meet you and talk with you yesterday.
    I can definitely identify with your ambivalence around madness and the service user/survivor identity or identities…I think I am too ambivalent about almost anything these days…I really look forward to your talk. My friend Anne Plumb will come to the talk too, she is very keen to meet you.
    see you on tuesday
    take care

  2. Hey Nev – (and Dina!) – wish I too could be around on Tuesday – but have just spent an incredibly good week – Mon-Wed – ‘Critical Psychiatry – Beyond The Current Paradigm’ in Nottingham – and ‘Making Sense of Unusual Experiences – Voices,Visions and Paranoia’ in Liverpool -Thurs-Fri – a phenomenal week all in all.
    Keep in touch – and good luck – Julie

  3. I really like your Ruminations on Madness but I have to presume that it is written for healthcare professionals or academics as the use of jargon and language in general is frequently in penetrable to the lay person. I am educated to higher degree level and I think I am what you call a survivor/service user, if this means someone who has recieved treatment for mental health. Perhaps your target is the academic minority, but I feel, were you to practice using a more inclusive language, you would find that there are several times your current audience who would be very interested. Otherwise I find your writing fascinating.

    • Thanks for posting this comment. This is an issue I’ve thought a lot about and realize I should post some sort of clearer disclaimer. In general–and in almost all my other projects/work–I do everything I can to write in a more accessible, less jargony-y way. This space–my personal blog–was actually created to give myself an outlet to NOT to that. I.e. to just be myself (myself being largely a product of 8 years spent in continental philosophy programs). I realize it’s a definite tradeoff, but I also really need a space where I can just be myself (for my own sake/mental health).

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