From the perspectives of mad people

Authored by: Geoffrey Reaume

The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138781603
eBook ISBN: 9781315202211
Adobe ISBN: 9781351784399


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The varied and diverse perspectives of mad people have existed since ancient times when the first concepts around mental difference began to be described, such as in regard to Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel in the Jewish Bible and the Christian Old Testament. 1 Though sources which uncover this history are difficult to locate the further back in time we go, the writing of mad people’s history has emerged as a more widely accepted topic during the past thirty years. This chapter will examine key secondary literature and international trends on the historiography of mad people’s perspectives and experiences. The writing of this history has evolved since the 1980s from interpreting previously published sources in anthologies to integrating unpublished first-person accounts in institutional histories, biographies, and accounts of advocacy efforts. In so doing, there has developed an effort to include a wider variety of mad people’s perspectives, beyond the original group of privileged writers who left publicly available accounts in order to provide a more representative historical record of people who did not have the resources or education to publish anything in their own lifetimes. This effort for broader historiographical inclusivity is the most consistent theme here – from inclusion of mad voices in the first place, to inclusion of more diverse perspectives of people based on their gender, race, class, and ability.

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