Talking About Mental Health and the Politics of Madness

  • Catharine ColeborneEmail author
Part of the Mental Health in Historical Perspective book series (MHHP)


The questions framing this chapter offer a way inside the value of a focus on the politics of madness in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. This chapter surveys developments that sprang from the deep contention over processes of institutional closure between the 1980s and the late 1990s. Given the long history of institutional silencing of inmates, how do psychiatric patients ‘speak out’? How is their speech enabled, enacted? What forms does it take, and what is the collective impact of this ‘talk’? This chapter argues that by including the contested speech in our histories—the dissenting voices of mental health service users and survivors—we might begin to ensure that the power and impact of their stories and experiences are preserved as we start to narrate the history of madness over time.


Politics of madness Deinstitutionalisation Mental health policies Psychiatric survivor narratives Mad studies New Zealand Transnational histories 

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Resource Examples

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social ScienceUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia

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