Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds

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408 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
March 2013
Print ISBN: 9781551305349


In 1981, Toronto activist Mel Starkman wrote: "An important new movement is sweeping through the western world.... The 'mad,' the oppressed, the ex-inmates of society's asylums are coming together and speaking for themselves."

Mad Matters is the first Canadian book to bring together the writings of this vital movement, which has grown explosively in the years since. With contributions from scholars in numerous disciplines, as well as activists and psychiatric survivors, it presents diverse critical voices that convey the lived experiences of the psychiatrized and challenges dominant understandings of "mental illness." The connections between mad activism and other liberation struggles are stressed throughout, making the book a major contribution to the literature on human rights and anti-oppression.

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Introducing Mad Studies

Part I: Mad People's History, Evolving Culture, and Language

Chapter 1: The Movement, Mel Starkman
Chapter 2: Women in 19th Century Asylums: Three Exemplary Women; A New Brunswick Hero, Nérée St-Amand and Eugène LeBlanc
Chapter 3: Democracy Is a Very Radical Idea, Lanny Beckman and Megan J. Davies
Chapter 4: What Makes Us a Community? Reflections on Building Solidarity in Anti-Sanist Praxis, Shaindl Diamond
Chapter 5: A Rose by Any Other Name: Naming and the Battle against Psychiatry, Bonnie Burstow

Part II: Mad Engagements

Chapter 6: "Breaking open the bone": Storying, Sanism, and Mad Grief, Jennifer M. Poole and Jennifer Ward
Chapter 7: Mad as Hell: The Objectifying Experience of Symbolic Violence, Ji-Eun Lee
Chapter 8: A Denial of Being: Psychiatrization as Epistemic Violence, Maria Liegghio
Chapter 9: Mad Success: What Could Go Wrong When Psychiatry Employs Us as "Peers"? Erick Fabris

Part III: Critiques of Psychiatry: Practice and Pedagogy

Chapter 10: The Tragic Farce of "Community Mental Health Care," Irit Shamrat
Chapter 11: Electroshock: Torture as "Treatment," Don Weitz
Chapter 12: Is Mad Studies Emerging as a New Field of Inquiry? David Reville
Chapter 13: Making Madness Matter in Academic Practice, Kathryn Church

Part IV: Law, Public Policy, and Media Madness

Chapter 14: Mad Patients as Legal Intervenors in Court, Lucy Costa
Chapter 15: Removing Civil Rights: How Dare We? Gordone Warme
Chapter 16: "They should not be allowed to do this to the homeless and mentally ill": Minimum Separation Distance Bylaws Reconsidered, Lilith "Chava" Finkler
Chapter 17: The Making and Marketing of Mental Health Literacy in Canada, Kimberley White and M.C. Pike
Chapter 18: Pitching Mad: News Media and the sychiatric Survivor Perspective, Rob Wipond

Part V: Social Justice, Madness, and Identity Politics

Chapter 19: Mad Nation? Thinking through Race, Class, and Mad Identity Politics, Rachel Gorman
Chapter 20: Whither Indigenizing the Mad Movement? Theorizing the Social Relations of Race and Madness through Conviviality, Louise Tam
Chapter 21: Spaces in Place: Negotiating Queer In/visibility within Psychiatric and Mental Health Service Settings, Andrea Daley
Chapter 22: Rerouting the Weeds: The Move from Criminalizing to Pathologizing "Troubled Youth" in The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence, Jijian Voronka
Chapter 23: Recovery: Progressive Paradigm or Neoliberal Smokescreen? Marina Morrow

Glossary of Terms
Case Law and Statutes
About the Editors and Contributors

Brenda A. LeFrançois

Brenda A. LeFrançois is Associate Professor of Social Work at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Robert Menzies

Robert Menzies is Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University.

Geoffrey Reaume

Geoffrey Reaume is Associate Professor of Critical Disability Studies at York University.


"This book is a much needed addition to the field of Disability Studies."

"This reader fills a clear gap in Canadian scholarship. It will, in my view, put Mad Studies 'on the map' and open this important area of study to a much larger audience. It will be particularly useful for senior undergraduate and graduate students but also brings together a disparate body of literature that will be useful to specialists in the field and to those who teach Disabilities, Mad Studies, and Social History."

"This book carves out the terrain of a vital and robust new field of study and makes clear its many points of connection to lived experiences of madness, activist movements, and related scholarly disciplines. The writing in Mad Matters comes from diverse personal and scholarly perspectives, and covers an impressive range of relevant topics, yet it all consistently advances the volume's goal of explaining and demonstrating the scope and radical significance of Mad Studies. In short, the anthology is delightfully readable and theoretically rich."
—  Joanne Woiak, University of Washington

Instructor Resources

Adopt Mad Matters for your upcoming course and you will receive an Instructor’s Manual filled with chapter-by-chapter resources including critical thinking questions, suggested assignments, and examination questions. Also provided is an extensive list of relevant websites, suggested films, further readings, and organizations of interest.

See sample

Student Resources

General Student Resource - Download

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