Mad pride of place

Newsweek has a good article on the ‘Mad Pride’ movement in the US, a British import where those diagnosed with mental illness reject the medical view of their experiences and decide to live with ‘extreme mental states’ both good and bad.

It makes a good complement to last year’s New York Times article on ‘mad pride’ although this focuses on the impressive The Icarus Project, a group of activists who campaign for mental health reform and work to support those who decide to forego psychiatric treatment.

After all, aren’t we all more odd than we are normal? And aren’t so many of us one bad experience away from a mental-health diagnosis that could potentially limit us? Aren’t “normal” minds now struggling with questions of competence, consistency or sincerity? Icarus is likewise asking why we are so keen to correct every little deficit‚Äîit argues that we instead need to embrace the range of human existence.

While some critics might view Icaristas as irresponsible, their skepticism about drugs isn’t entirely unfounded. Lately, a number of antipsychotic drugs have been found to cause some troubling side effects.

There are, of course, questions as to whether mad pride and Icarus have gone too far. While to his knowledge no members have gravely harmed themselves (or others), Hall acknowledges that not everyone can handle the Icarus approach. “People can go too fast and get too excited about not using medication, and we warn people against throwing their meds away, being too ambitious and doing it alone,” he says.

Link to Newsweek article ‘Listening to Madness’.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of a line I read in an underground comic forty years ago, which has stuck with me all this time:
    “We’re all normal and we want to be free!”


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