Listening to Those with Lived Experience

  • Emily Sheera CutlerEmail author


The voices of people with lived experience of emotional distress, mental differences, and/or psychiatric treatment are often excluded from traditional psychiatric research and literature. This chapter will highlight the importance of not only including but centering those perspectives, with a focus on perspectives that aim to redefine and reclaim the traits, characteristics, experiences, and phenomena categorized as “mental illness.” Specifically, the author will introduce the Mad Pride movement and neurodiversity paradigm, two frameworks that recognize the value and meaning of the traits commonly perceived as symptoms of mental disorders. Both Mad Pride and neurodiversity posit that these traits are not indicators of pathology or disease but rather forms of diversity and parts of the human experience.

This chapter will present arguments from Mad Pride and neurodiversity activists that challenge some of the dominant assumptions underlying the traditional model of psychiatric care. The author will then discuss how the ideas of Mad Pride and neurodiversity can be applied in four different examples: hallucinations and extreme states, autism, multiplicity, and suicide. The issue of coercion within the mental health system will then be explored from a Mad Pride and neurodiversity standpoint. Finally, the chapter will present suggestions for incorporating these perspectives into the practice of critical psychiatry.


Mad Pride Neurodiversity Social model of disability Cognitive liberty Suicide Involuntary commitment 


  1. 1.
    Alroe CJ, McIntyre JN. Visual hallucinations. The Charles Bonnet syndrome and bereavement. Med J Aust. 1983;2(12):6774–5.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aragon P. Personal interview via Facebook. 2018, March 26.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    American Psychiatric Association. What is psychiatry? Accessed 24 Aug 2018.
  4. 4.
    Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Position statements. Accessed 23 Aug 2018.
  5. 5.
    Bascom J. Quiet hands. [Blog post]. 2014, March 24. Retrieved from
  6. 6.
    Bogaert AF. Toward a conceptual understanding of asexuality. Rev Gen Psychol. 2006;10(3):241–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Caseres R, Pseudonym CX. Us, too: sexual violence against people labeled mentally ill. [Blog post]. (2017, November 23). Retrieved from
  8. 8.
    Chabasinski T. A child on the shock ward. [Blog post]. 2012, July 17. Retrieved from
  9. 9.
    Cohen O. (Producer), & Moynihan, P. J. (Director). Healing Voices [Motion Picture]. 2016.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cutler E. Scared into silence. The Daily Pennsylvanian. 2015, August 26. Retrieved from
  11. 11.
    Cutler E. Aspiring to be like esther. [Blog post]. 2017, March 12. Retrieved from
  12. 12.
    Cutler ES. Is strip-searching a form of sexual abuse? [Blog post]. 2018, February 23. Retrieved from
  13. 13.
    Dale F. Little Porcupine goes to the psych ward. [Blog post]. 2017, August 12. Retrieved from
  14. 14.
    Davidow S. A world that would have us doubt: rape, the system, and swim fans. [Blog post]. 2016, June 2. Retrieved from
  15. 15.
    Desmarais SL, Van Dorn RA, Johnson KL, Grimm KJ, Douglas KS, Swartz MS. Community violence perpetration and victimization among adults with mental illnesses. Am J Public Health. 2013;104(12):2342–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dundas D. Dorothy Dundas on ECT. [Blog post]. Retrieved from
  17. 17.
    Freels S, Freels M. Subtle ways psychiatry has harmed us. [Blog post]. 2018, January 7. Retrieved from
  18. 18.
    Kat H. Three letters: re-abused and re-traumatized by a diagnosis. [Blog post]. 2017, November 9. Retrieved from
  19. 19.
    Jimenez N. A story of forced hospitalization from a legal perspective. [Blog post]. 2017, October 8.Retrieved from
  20. 20.
    Leary A. Autistic people are taking back autism “Awareness.” it’s about acceptance. [Blog post]. 2018, April 17. Retrieved from
  21. 21.
    Longden E. The voices in my head. [Video]. 2013, February. Retrieved from
  22. 22.
    Maile J. Moving on. [Blog post]. 2017, December 19. Retrieved from
  23. 23.
    Montgomery C. Personal interview via Facebook 2018, March 26.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mullis C. Personal interview via Facebook. 2018, March 26.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    openDemocracy. Johann Hari on uncovering the real causes of depression, from his book. [Video]. 2018, January 19. Retrieved from
  26. 26.
    Patient 5150. The most harrowing days of my life. The Huffington Post. 2013, December 12. Retrieved from
  27. 27.
    Prism I. Psychiatric survivor: the trauma of involuntary hospitalization. The Body is Not an Apology. 2016, July 1. Retrieved from
  28. 28.
    Russo F. The struggles of women who mask their autism. The Atlantic. 2018, February 24. Retrieved from
  29. 29.
    Sequenzia A. My thoughts on ABA. [Blog post]. 2015, February 11. Retrieved from
  30. 30.
    Sheera E. When my natural reaction to being bullied was diagnosed as a mental illness. [Blog post]. 2016a, October 4. Retrieved from
  31. 31.
    Sheera E. An open letter to psychiatrists and mental health professionals from a psychiatric survivor. [Blog post]. 2016b, October 25. Retrieved from
  32. 32.
    Shevlin M, Murphy J, Read J, Mallett J, Adamson G, Edward Houston J. Childhood adversity and hallucinations: a community-based study using the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2010;46:1203–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Shiffle, IC. Abduction. [Blog post]. 2017, August 26. Retrieved from
  34. 34.
    Ustaszewski A.. I don’t want to be ‘Cured’ of autism, thanks. The Guardian. 2009, January 14. Retrieved from
  35. 35.
    Waddingham R. Symptom or experience: does language matter? [Blog post]. 2013, October 10. Retrieved from
  36. 36.
    Wallace DF. Infinite jest: a novel. Boston: Little, Brown and Company; 1996.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Welch D. Personal interview via Facebook. 2018, March 26.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Behavioral and Community SciencesUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

Personalised recommendations