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Book Publication: With the Mad. A Social History of Psychiatry in the 20th Century

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 parmi les fous

Reproduced from the 'h-madness' listserv digest, 18 November 2013:

"Benoît Majerus has a new book out entitled Parmi les fous. Une histoire sociale de la psychiatrie au XXe siècle (“With the mad. A social history of psychiatry in the 20th century”).

The challenge of this book is to tell the story of psychiatry in the 20th century not through psychiatric handbooks or nosological controversies, but through the daily life of one asylum. This approach enables to discover  actors that are still largely excluded from the traditional narrative on psychiatry be it patients but also nurses, social workers… This historiographical gaze gives new readings of classical themes in the field such as the spatial settings of enclosure or the link between knowledge and power. It also questions the chronology by revisiting the so-called chemical revolution in the 1950s or the deinstitutionalisation from the 1960s on.

Patients’ records are a fascinating material to get access to psychiatric practice. The organisation of work, the forms of knowledge, the medical gaze, the experience of mental illness by the patient or the physician are all topics that are too often described and analysed through medical reports or through the published literature in psychiatric journals. Considering these questions from below offers an intriguing insight in the tensions between discourse and practice, between representation of a field and its actual functioning.

This book is part of a larger narrative that goes beyond a historiography of psychiatry still too often entangled in a dichotomous narrative: medical progress or disciplinarisation. Combining micro-history and sciences studies, it hopes to participate in the historicisation of a topic difficult to grapple, but particularly rich for a history of the 20th century through the margins."

-- Alexandra Bacopoulos-Viau


Eugene LeBlanc Receives Mary Huestis Pengilly Award

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On October 10, 2013, the survivor-run movement in New Brunswick celebrated its 20th anniversary by holding a provincial walk that began at Fredericton City Hall and concluded at the Lieutenant-Governor's mansion. About 500 people gathered to celebrate this historic event and to acknowledge the fight of a people to be heard and seen in the context of an often oppressive mental health system.

In the midst of these celebrations, the New Brunswick Mental Health Consumer Network granted our colleague Eugene LeBlanc, survivor activist and Publisher of the acclaimed periodical Our Voice / Notre Voix, the first Mary Huestis Pengilly Award on the steps of the Lieutenant-Governor's residence.

Congratulations to Eugene on his receipt of this prestigious award, and on his many years of advocacy on behalf of the survivor movement.

To read the text of Eugene's acceptance speech, click here. To view a photograph of the award ceremony, click here.


The Inmates Are Running The Asylum - New Website Launch

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homVancouver’s MPA (Mental Patients Association) was formed in 1970-71 as a grassroots response to deinstitionalization and tragic gaps in community mental health. Inverting traditional mental health hierarchies, the group put former patients and sympathetic lay supporters in charge. MPA provided homes, work and a sense of belonging and self-determination to ex-patients.

Working collaboratively with academic scholars and talented young artists and film-makers, a group of early MPA members created this 36-minute documentary. Provocative, passionate and engaging, our film has something important to say about social justice, community-building and mental health today.

For more informaiton, to view the movie or upcoming events/screenings, please visit the Website.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:03

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: The Story of MPA

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The Carnegie Community Centre Marks Mental Health Week with the Premiere of

The Story of MPA, Vancouver's Ground-Breaking Mental Health Group

Free Screenings at 4 & 6 pm Saturday May 11th
Carnegie Theatre, Hastings & Main, Vancouver, BC
4 pm screening will be followed by a panel discussion

May 2, 2013 — Vancouver, BC The heady radicalism of the 1970s gave birth to a path-breaking Canadian mental health organization that provided former mental patients with work, homes, community, and a chance to take charge of their own lives. The Inmates Are Running The Asylum is a documentary about Mental Patients Association (MPA), Vancouver's ground-breaking mental health group, founded in the 1970s as a reaction to the dehumanizing experience many faced while in mental hospitals and after release.

On Saturday, May 11, 2013, the Carnegie Community Centre, 401 Main St., Vancouver) will host the premiere of The Inmates Are Running The Asylum with back-to-back screenings: the first at 4:00 p.m., followed by a panel discussion, the second at 6:00 p.m. - both public screenings will be free.

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum follows the lives of MPA members, as they tell their stories of founding what has been described as the most successful psychiatric survivor organization in the world. MPA's radical mental health programs were remarkably successful. Early members who helped create this film are convinced that the story of the organization they loved offers vital lessons to those who direct the current mental health system – a system that fails so many.

Unabashedly political, MPA was an advocacy and protest organization as well as a support group. MPA saw that mental health rights were strongly connected to other social justice issues. "MPA was very consciously modelled on the women's rights and gay rights movements," said Lanny Beckman, original instigator of MPA. "And had the same goal: liberation." But with less visible victories than those groups, history has forgotten the early mad movement.

At the request of original MPA members, executive producer Megan Davies, a professor at Toronto's York University, coordinated the documentary. The MPA members had full input on the film making process, even choosing what segments of their interviews would be included in the film - which is unheard of in the documentary film world.

MPA inverted all traditional notions of mental health. Its drop-in programs based on peer support and its "mad pride" ethos were unfathomable at first to the psychiatric mainstream. But their approach worked. Through communal living, work opportunities and a healthy dose of self-deprecating humour, MPA created focus and meaning in the lives of oppressed people.

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum will be simultaneously premiering on May 11 in Vancouver and Glasgow, Scotland, and is the first of many grassroots screenings of the film across Canada.


A limited number of media seats will be reserved at a private screening on Thursday, May 9, 2013, at 3:00 p.m. at Simon Fraser University's downtown Fletcher Challenge Theatre (room 1900).

For further Information, please contact: Megan Davies This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
416 575 4253


Documentary Film: Mars Project

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Mars Project

Director: Jonathan Balazs

"Mars Project is a film that seeks to recount significant events in the life of Khari “Conspiracy” Stewart – a contemporary wordsmith specializing in hip hop rhyme forms. With innumerable battles waging as far back as his adolescence, his other-worldly experiences often manifested themselves through a dense and dark catalog of recorded music, all of which he has recorded independently. Conspiracy has been performing for the last decade in a group called the Supreme Being Unit (or “S.B.U.”) with his twin-brother Addi “Mindbender” Stewart. While Conspiracy's creativity is an identifying factor of his persona, he is the victim and the beneficiary of a plagued mind that has, simultaneously debilitated him and formed the foundation for his identity. He treads the line between a tormented artist or drug-addled rapper, but his experience resonates with all of us." - JB

mars project

To learn more about Mars Project, click on:


Book Release: Mad Matters

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Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies

Edited by Brenda A. LeFrançois, Robert Menzies and Geoffrey Reaume
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 brings 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. 

mad matters

Reviews and Comments

"This book is a much needed addition to the field of Disability Studies." Nancy Hansen, University of Manitoba

"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." Thomas E. Brown, Mount Royal University

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

Robert Menzies is Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University.

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

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 Shimrat
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? Gordon 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 Ryan Pike
Chapter 18: Pitching Mad: News Media and the Psychiatric 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

Published: May 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1-55130-534-9

Format: 380pp, Paperback                            


Robert Castel - 1933 - 2013

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By Nicolas Henckes and Anne Lovell



French sociologist and historian Robert Castel passed away on March 12, 2013, at the age of 79. An important figure in French intellectual life over the past two decades, he was an acute observer of the transformations of the relationship between contemporary societies and their vulnerable populations. But Robert Castel is most probably best known to readers of this blog as the author of some of the most fertile analyses of the transformation of French and American psychiatry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Originally trained as a philosopher, Castel turned to sociology thanks to the influence of Pierre Bourdieu, but soon forged an independent path. From the mid-1960s until the early 1980s, a period when he was close to Michel Foucault, Castel went on to develop a highly original and coherent research trajectory around a sociological understanding of psychiatry, characterized by his capacity to seize with great precision social processes and their temporal boundaries, but also by his attentiveness to the very texture of the underlying discourses that became the material for his analyses. The strength of the work he published during this period lies partly in his sensitivity to transformations in real time in the very fields he was observing.
At first, and like most observers and actors within psychiatry at the time, Castel’s preoccupations concerned the question of the psychiatric institution. In Le psychanalysme (1973), he showed how the institution itself shaped French psychoanalysis in the 1960s, while L’ordre psychiatrique (1976, English translation: The Regulation of Madness) traced the origins of the French psychiatric institution in the genesis of the Law of June 30, 1838, with its dual roots in criminal justice and psychiatry and its loose criteria for commitment, which remained in effect until the 1990s. He then focused his analytical gaze beyond institutional psychiatry, on the new means of constituting and governing the normal and the pathological in the “psy” world of the end of the 1970s (La société psychiatrique avancée, 1979, co-authored with  Françoise Castel and Anne M. Lovell, and published in English as The Psychiatric Society, 1983 ; and La gestion des risques, in 1982). Castel’s analysis of the strategies developed through French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s new social policies for managing populations at risk influenced British works on the forms that governmentality through risk took in advanced liberal societies (e.g. Nikolas Rose’s work). Castel’s perspectives on the means through which psychotherapeutic practices and psychological discourse after 1968 constituted a “social world within a world without the social” contributed to the emergence of a new form of “asocial sociability” is still one of the most relevant analyses about the contribution of “psy” disciplines to contemporary individualism.
Beyond his academic involvement, Robert Castel was moved by a certain idea of how psychiatry should be practiced, a view he defended along with his wife Françoise Castel, a public psychiatrist, and with the Italian radical psychiatrist, Franco Basaglia. The untimely death of both undoubtedly influenced his decision to take on new subjects in the second half of the 1980s. After a study of how problem drug users exit from drug dependence (toxicomanie), he began a ten-year project which was to become the second great moment in his oeuvre.  Les métamorphoses de la question sociale, published in 1995 (English translation, From manual workers to wage laborers: transformation of the social question, 2011), gained a broad readership, from social scientists to elected officials and activists from all points along the political spectrum. This historical sociology analyzes the constitution and transformations of the wage-worker (salariat) as a social and political condition, a process which broadens the forms of vulnerability and disaffiliation already revealed in Castel’s earlier analyses of mental illness.
Always extremely lucid about his own trajectory, Castel devoted his last years to penetrating analyses on the future of the social critique hewn by sociologists from the generation of the Sixties in a world marked by the end of utopian possibilities and of voluntaristic positions on social integration. The totality of Castel’s objects of analysis may raise numerous questions; those regarding psychiatry certainly call for a re-evaluation of the body of his work. Yet that body of work constitutes an impressive ensemble, which any historian or sociologist interested in contemporary transformations of psychiatry and the social must confront at one moment or another.
Selected Bibliography
Castel, Françoise, Robert Castel, and Anne M. Lovell. 1982  The psychiatric society. Columbia University Press.
Castel, Robert. 1973  Le psychanalysme. F. Maspero.
________. 1988  The regulation of madness: The origins of incarceration in France. University of California Press Berkeley.
________.  1991  “From dangerousness to risk.” In G. Burchell, C. Gordon and P. Miller, eds. The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pp, 281–298


Reel Lives: Madness, Addiction and Crime in Canada

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Reel Lives: Madness, Addiction and Crime in Canada

Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (Harbour Centre) Campus
Labatt Hall
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Sat. May 11, 2013, 9am-5pm

Join us for a critical dialogue about depictions of madness, addiction and crime in Canadian documentary films

The event is free but seating is limited


Lanny Beckman • Janis Cole • Megan Davies • Mona Gleason • Harry Karlinsky • Coleen Rajotte • Nettie Wild • Ezra Winton

Sponsored by the SFU Centre for the Study of Gender, Social Inequities and Mental Health

RSVP by Fri. April 19 to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South?

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Call for Papers

Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South? Mapping the Ethics, Theory and Practice of Global Mental Health

Disability and the Global South: An International Journal  www.dgsjournal.org

Guest Editors: China Mills and Suman Fernando

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Movement for Global Mental Health, are calling to ‘scale up’ psychiatric treatments, often specifically access to psychiatric drugs, globally, and particularly within the global South. Amid these calls, others can be heard, from those who have received psychiatric treatments in the global North and South, and from some critical and transcultural psychiatrists, to abolish psychiatric diagnostic systems and to acknowledge the harm caused by some medications. Furthermore, voices have also been raised advocating the need to address social suffering, personal distress and community trauma in the global South in a context of poverty, political violence and natural disasters; and calling for people given psychiatric diagnoses to have their human rights protected by disability legislation.

The Movement for Global Mental Health frames distress as an illness like any other, calling for global equality in access to psychiatric medication. However there is a growing body of research from the global North that documents the harmful effects of long-term use of psychiatric medication and questions the usefulness of psychiatric models (see Angell, 2011; and Whitaker, 2010). This raises concerns; about the ‘evidence base’ of Global Mental Health; about increasing access to psychiatric drugs globally; about the promotion of psychiatric diagnoses such as ‘depression’ as an illness; and changes the terms of debate around equality between the global South and North. What are the ethics of ‘scaling up’ treatments within the global South whose efficacy are still hotly debated within the global North?

There are other concerns about Global Mental Health; that it exports Western ways of being a person and concepts of distress that are alien to many cultures, and imposed from the ‘top down’, potentially repeating colonial and imperial relations (Summerfield, 2008), and that psychiatry discredits and replaces alternative forms of healing that are local, religious or indigenous (Watters, 2010). Alongside this, many users and survivors of the psychiatric system argue for the right to access non-medical and non-Western healing spaces, and to frame their experience as distress and not to depoliticise it as ‘illness’ (PANUSP, 2012). Yet for the pharmaceutical industry – there is a huge financial incentive in both expanding the boundaries of what counts as illness, and expanding across geographical borders into the often ‘untapped’ markets of the global South. This marks a process of psychiatrization, where increasing numbers of people across the globe come to be seen, and to see themselves, as ‘mentally ill’ (Rose, 2006).

This is the context in which this special issue is situated. We would like to invite contributions that are inter-disciplinary and that ground rich conceptual work in ‘on the ground’ practice. We really welcome papers that try to grapple with the complexity and the messiness of debates around Global Mental Health. We hope to explore a range of issues and address some difficult questions, including (but not exclusively);

 Issues over access to healthcare and the right to treatment in the global South, and how these debates may be different for mental distress compared to physical illness and disability
 Critical analysis of the evidence base of Global Mental Health and the ‘treatment gap’ in mental health care between the global South and North
 Global mental health as a disabling practice
 Examples of mental health activism and lobbying within the global South as well as resistance
 Dilemmas and accounts of ‘doing’ mental health work in the global South, notably in contexts of poverty
 The globalisation of psychiatry; accounts of how psychiatry travels, and of whether counter-approaches to mental health (alternative or indigenous frameworks) may travel too
 Accounts of alternative ways of understanding health, distress and healing – counter-epistemologies and plural approaches from the global South and North.
 Issues around colonialism, imperialism and psychiatry, and of possibilities for decolonising psychiatric practises
 The role of the pharmaceutical industry and its connections with psychiatry – the global production, distribution and marketing of drugs – how drugs travel globally.
 An exploration of the ethical dimensions of Global Mental Health, and who has the power to set the Global Mental Health agenda.
 Should wellbeing and distress be addressed by health policy and medical funding, or be understood outside of a medical framework?
 What are Global Mental Health interventions claiming to ‘treat’?
 Is there a role for psychiatry within Global Mental Health?
 Critical approaches to the Movement for Global Mental Health; can and should mental health be global?

We particularly welcome contributions from those who have lived experience of a psychiatric diagnosis, or of distress, and those who work in the global South, or in contents of poverty, on mental health issues. Short reports and stories, are equally encouraged alongside longer theoretical papers. Papers should be no more than 8000 words, with an abstract of 150-200 words.

Those wishing to submit an article or express an interest in contributing, please email China Mills This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Manuscripts will be sent anonymously for peer review, and comments and recommendations relayed to authors through the editors. Instructions on formatting for the journal can be found here: http://dgsjournal.org/information-for-authors/

All contributions should be submitted no later than: 21st July 2013


The Politics of Resilience and Recovery in Mental Health Care

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Studies in Social Justice Vol 6, No 1 (2012): The Politics of Resilience and Recovery in Mental Health Care

Guest Editors: Jijian Voronka and Alison Howell

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Politics of Resilience and Recovery in Mental Health Care
Jijian Voronka, Alison Howell 1-7


Uncovering Recovery: The Resistible Rise of Recovery and Resilience
David Harper, Ewen Speed
Towards a Social Justice Framework of Mental Health Recovery
Marina Morrow, Julia Weisser
Power and Participation: An Examination of the Dynamics of Mental Health Service-User Involvement in Ireland
Liz Brosnan
The New Vocabulary of Resilience and the Governance of University Student Life
Katie Aubrecht

“Recovering our Stories”: A Small Act of Resistance 
Lucy Costa, Jijian Voronka, Danielle Landry, Jenna Reid, Becky Mcfarlane, David Reville, Kathryn Church

Other Articles
Homelessness in the Suburbs: Engulfment in the Grotto of Poverty
Isolde Daiski, Nancy Viva Davis Halifax, Gail J. Mitchell, Andre Lyn

The Aesthetic Post-Communist Subject and the Differend of Rosia Montana
Irina Velicu

Book Reviews

Review of Global Child Poverty and Well-Being: Measurement, Concepts, Policy and Action
Laura Camfield

Review of Becoming Biosubjects: Bodies, Systems, Technologies
Audrey L'Espérance

Studies in Social Justice publishes articles on issues dealing with the social, cultural, economic, political, and philosophical problems associated with the struggle for social justice. This interdisciplinary journal aims to publish work that links theory to social change and the analysis of substantive issues. The journal welcomes heterodox contributions that are critical of established paradigms of inquiry.

The journal focuses on debates that move beyond conventional notions of social justice, and views social justice as a critical concept that is integral in the analysis of policy formation, rights, participation, social movements, and transformations. Social justice is analysed in the context of processes involving nationalism, social and public policy, globalization, diasporas, culture, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, welfare, poverty, war, and other social phenomena. It endeavours to cover questions and debates ranging from governance to democracy, sustainable environments, and human rights, and to introduce new work on pressing issues of social justice throughout the world.

ISSN: 1911-4788


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