Friday, 15 February 2013

Recognition, Transgression and the Politics of Mental Health

Simon Cross's latest article explores recent developments in the ways in which the voices of 'the mad' are heard. 

He argues that the segregation and silencing of the mad in institutions did not stem from inhumanity; it was the logical consequence of a psychiatric credo that the mad spoke only gaggle and babble. Deprived of their point of view, the utterances of the insane were prevented from adding to the stock of available reality. Challenging this state of affairs, psychiatric patients and their advocates have pursued a politics of recognition that has necessarily meant transgressing concrete and medical boundaries determining the psychiatric patient’s place in the political community. However, during the 1990s, changes in the social setting of psychiatric care enabled mental patients to once again re-enter the public sphere. In doing so, broadcast talk in the same decade expanded to encompass schizophrenics and voice-hearers in documentary and other actuality formats. But this expansion of broadcast talk to encompass the politics of voice hearing coincided with the rise of reality TV as the predominant form of actuality television, squeezing out available space for ‘mad’ experiences and opinions to be heard. At the same time however, the rise of the Internet has meant new forums are available for listening to the voice of the mad, though not without attendant problems such as ghettoization. The article contextualizes these developments and argues for a combined politics of recognition and transgression in the wider politics of mental health. 

Simon Cross (2012), ‘The Voice of the Mad: Transgressions and Public Talk about the Voice-hearing Experience’, Transgressive Culture, Vol. 2(1): 129-145.  -->

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