interpretations and responses to their situation and encouraged reaction against the decarceration of mental health service users and pressure for the extension of restrictions of their rights internationally. The dominance of psychiatric interpretations has also inappropriately reinforced the association of violent and criminal behaviour with mental distress. This presentation will explore the development of a social model of madness and distress (contrasting it with traditional environmental understandings), building on the social model of disability, to provide an emancipatory basis for understanding and addressing the rights and needs of mental health service users and reconnecting social justice, citizenship, madness and distress. The presentation draws on a survivor controlled research project, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and jointly undertaken by the presenter, Mary Nettle and Rebecca Perring, which explores mental health service users’ views about existing understandings of ‘mental health issues’ and their ideas about a possible social model of madness and distress.
Helen Douglas. Philosophy in Practice, Cape Town, South Africa
The mad ones among us would be excluded from citizenship and justice, if these were understood as based solely in relationships that are amenable to reason and regulation. But what if these concepts also arise within relations of uniqueness, proximity and ethical responsibility (Levinas)? Does madness prove the limits of justice and citizenship? Or do the ethical demands of a mad neighbour point instead to their infinite depth?
These questions open another perspective on a community’s response - psychological, practical and political - to its stranger neighbours.
Lane Robert Mandlis. Sociology, University of Alberta
Madness as ‘Choice’: The State of Exception, Responsibilization, and the Political Sphere
This paper explores the notion of responsibilization and its application to ‘mental illness’ through the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Illnesses (DSM). Bringing together the ideas of Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, and Nicolas Rose as a way to explore madness, this paper takes the position that responsibilization as a means of social control invokes the state of exception, and thus produces those deemed ‘mentally ill’ as homines sacri – sacred men. By exposing the commonsensical link between responsibilization and ‘choice’, this paper argues that ‘mental illness’ is actually understood to be a choice, a particularly bad one at that, with significant repercussions in the political sphere.