Over the course of the centuries the meanings around mental illness have shifted many times according to societal beliefs and the political atmosphere of the day. The way madness is defined has far reaching effects on those who have a mental disorder, and determines how they are treated by the professionals responsible for their care, and the society of which they are a part. Although madness as mental illness seems to be the dominant Western view of madness, it is by no means the only view of what it means to be ‘mad’. The symptoms of madness or mental illness occur in all cultures of the world, but have different meanings in different social and cultural contexts. Evidence suggests that meanings of mental illness have a significant impact on subjective experience; the idioms used in the expression thereof, indigenous treatments, and subsequent outcomes. Thus, the societal understandings of madness are central to the problem of mental illness and those with the lived experience can lead the process of reconstructing this meaning.
Monika dos Santos is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Africa. She holds doctoral degrees in Psychology and Clinical Psychology, and is currently completing an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development at the University of Oxford. She is curious about human-environment functioning and psychopathology.
Jean-François Pelletier is associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal, full time researcher at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, and Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Program for Recovery & Community Health. He holds a doctoral degree (PhD) in political science and maintains an interest in all aspects of citizenship, especially as applied to the field of public mental health.
Introduction: Who’s Lived Experience Is It Anyway? Monika dos Santos and Jean-François Pelletier
Madness: A Revolutionary Rear-Guard Oisín Wall
‘You can’t label it and there’s no umbrella’: The Consumer Movement and the Social Construction of Mental Illness Kara Holmes and Fiona Ann Papps
Psychology’s Madness: Solipsistic Denial of Relational Dependency David Lewis Wilson and Monika dos Santos
Has Autism Changed? Simon Cushing
Creativity and ‘Madness’: Myths, Constructions and Realities Jonathan Appel, Dohee Kim-Appel, Erin Snapp, Claire Whiteman, Mary Cassidy and Rebecca Stanic
The Lived Experience of Mental Health Issues as a Constructive Asset for Redefining and Measuring Citizenship:A Social Enterprise Jean-François Pelletier
The Experience of Things: Memory, Photographic Representation and Emotions in Psychiatric Field Research Carlo Orefice