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Jiji Voronka. Disability Studies, Ryerson University

Bipolar Britney: Spear(s)heading Diagnosis Through Media Monitoring

My talk will engage the ways in which “the madness of Britney Spears” is being taken up in various media (traditional “legitimate” news; tabloid press; and online blog and video streaming). Specifically, I will explore two competing approaches that have emerged during the documentation of Britney’s “descent into madness”:

1) The biomedical approach, in which Britney is understood as biologically mad (and diagnosed through media accounts as suffering from bi-polar/split personality/manic depression/post-partum depression/dissociative personality disorder/schizophrenia). This approach positions her as mentally ill, and the media is understood as simply a passive agent documenting her madness through storied accounts, photos and video.

2) The psychosocial approach to Britney’s madness, which positions the traumas of the paparazzi, diet and beauty pressures, and the perils of Hollywood child-stars into a social causation model that faults Hollywood culture as the main cause of Britney’s “demise.”

In exploring the medical vs. social discourses that surround Britney’s current state of mind, I want to examine how “understanding Britney” impacts our collective understanding of modern day madness, and enter into the debate that Britney’s media case study creates: are we crazy?  Is our modern day culture making us crazy? Or is the modern day crazy?


Psychopolitics Reconsidered: Reflections on the Anti-Psychiatry Movement

Jerald Zaslove. English and Humanities, Simon Fraser University

Looking Backward – But How Far Backward? -  A Personal View of the Origins of the Anti-institutional ‘Sixties and their Aftermath ...

“If you have understanding and a heart show only one. Both they will damn, if you show both together.”

Friedrich Hölderlin & T.W. Adorno

One severely utopian movement in the so called counter cultural sixties was what I call,” the use of the utopian will” to change the direction of institutions that had come under attack since the 1950s as willfully obtuse institutions – schooling, psychiatry,

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