What Is Mad Studies?

Mad Studies is a field of scholarship that brings together theory, activism and creativity, drawing on the lived experiences, thinking, history and politics of people who variously identify as mad, psychiatric survivors, mental health consumers/service users/patients, voice hearers, plural/multiple, neurodiverse, and/or disabled (this list is always expanding).

Mad Studies has strong connections with grassroots movements fighting for the rights of people labelled as “mentally ill,” as well as intersecting social justice movements. The field is indebted to pioneering work (from the early 2000s) at Ryerson and York Universities in Canada, and to related disciplines, such as Critical Disability Studies, women’s studies, queer theory and critical mental health.

Mad Studies is increasingly being taken up within universities, often within existing departments, such as disability studies, sociology, social work, or humanities. There are many mad studies readings groups internationally. The field is grappling with both establishing itself as a discipline within universities, and remaining accountable and accessible to grassroots political movements.

To read more:

‘Mad Studies’ on Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_studies]

Mad Studies network – https://madstudies2014.wordpress.com/resources/

What is Mad Studies? – https://jemh.ca/issues/v9/theme6.html

Mad and Queer studies: interconnections and tensions – https://madstudies2014.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/mad-and-queer-studies-interconnections-and-tensions/

Some foundational mad studies books:

  • LeFrancois, B.A., Menzies, R.J., Reaume, G. (Eds). (2013) Mad Matters: a critical reader in Canadian mad studies. Canadian Scholars’ Press, Toronto.
  • Price, M. (2013). Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life. University of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor.
  • Read, J. & Reynolds, J. (1996). Speaking Our Minds: An Anthology of Personal Experiences of Mental Distress and its Consequences. Macmillan, Houndmills & London
  • Russo, J. and Sweeney, A. (Eds) (2016). Searching for a Rose Garden: Challenging Psychiatry, Fostering Mad Studies. PCCS Books, Monmouth.
  • Spandler, H., Anderson, J. & Sapey, B. (2015). Madness, Distress and the Politics of Disablement. Policy Press, Bristol.
  • Forthcoming: Beresford, P. and Russo, J. (Eds) (2022). The Routledge International Handbook of Mad Studies, Routledge, London