Why Talk About Madness?

Bringing History into the Conversation

  • Catharine Coleborne

Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series (MHHP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Catharine Coleborne
    Pages 1-13
  3. Catharine Coleborne
    Pages 15-28
  4. Catharine Coleborne
    Pages 29-40
  5. Catharine Coleborne
    Pages 41-52
  6. Catharine Coleborne
    Pages 65-72
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 73-82

About this book


‘Mental breakdown is as old as humanity, but there are, it turns out, a host of new ways of thinking and talking about it. Catharine Coleborne’s book provides an expert and highly readable overview of “the new mad studies.” Drawing on her career-long research in the field, Coleborne guides us through the most recent and provocative ideas about human madness. … Among the plethora of books on this vexing subject, Coleborne’s concise account strikes me as the most up-to-date, interesting, and the best informed.’

Mark Micale, Emeritus Professor, University of Illinois, USA

This short book argues for the relevance of historical perspectives on mental health, exploring how these histories can and should inform debates about mental healthcare today. Why is it important to study the history of madness? What does it mean to voice these histories? What can these tell us about the challenges and legacies of mental health care across the world today? Offering an intervention into new ways of thinking – and talking – about ‘mad’ history, Catharine Coleborne explores the social and cultural impact of the history of the mad movement, self-help and mental health consumer advocacy from the 1960s inside a longer tradition of ‘writing madness’. Starting with a brief history of the relevance of first-person accounts, then looking at the significance of other ways of representing the psychiatric ‘patient’, ‘survivor’ or ‘consumer’ over time, this book aims to escape from dominant modes of writing about the asylum.  


Deinstitutionalisation Asylum Mental health Mental illness Institutional care Patient voices Intervention Institutional abuse Psychiatry Therapy Trauma Transnational history

Authors and affiliations

  • Catharine Coleborne
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social ScienceUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-21095-3
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-21096-0
  • Buy this book on publisher's site