Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 257–271 | Cite as

The Icarus Project: A Counter Narrative for Psychic Diversity

  • Sascha Altman DuBrul


Over the past 12 years, I’ve had the good fortune of collaborating with others to create a project which challenges and complicates the dominant biopsychiatric model of mental illness. The Icarus Project, founded in 2002, not only critiqued the terms and practices central to the biopsychiatric model, it also inspired a new language and a new community for people struggling with mental health issues in the 21st century. The Icarus Project believes that humans are meaning makers, that meaning is created through developing intrapersonal and interpersonal narratives, and that these narratives are important sites of creativity, struggle, and growth. The Icarus counter narrative and the community it fostered has been invaluable for people around the world dealing with psychic diversity—particularly for people alienated by mainstream approaches. But, despite the numbers of people who have been inspired by this approach, the historical background of the Icarus Project is hard to find. It exists primarily in oral history, newspaper articles, unpublished or self-published Icarus documents, and in internet discussion forums. As the co-founder of the Icarus Project, I use this article to make my understanding of that history and its key documents more widely available.


Community-based practices Consumer activism Mad pride Intrapersonal narrative Interpersonal narrative Cultural studies Narrative power analysis Alternative forms of mental health care Biopsychiatry Bipolar disorder 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Silberman School of Social WorkNYUSA

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