Configuring Madness

9781904710967Configuring Madness

Representation, Context and Meaning


edited by
Kimberley White


ISBN: 978-1-904710-96-7

263 pages


The 1st Global Conference on Madness hosted in Oxford, September 2008 brought together an eclectic group of people interested in establishing interdisciplinary dialogues on the profoundly complex and deeply cultural notion of ‘madness’ and what it means to be ‘mad.’ The confluence of ideas, experiences and the collapsing of intellectual boundaries around philosophy, history, the arts, science, activism politics, religion and law, opened a unique discursive space in which to contemplate and debate past and present representations of, and responses to, madness and the mad. The formative implications of such different perspectives – as framed by time, place/space, culture, experience, identity, discipline and profession – proved to be significant in understanding how certain configurations of madness have been put together; what kinds of knowledge and conditions of knowledge in/formed particular ideologies of madness and how specific processes of decision-making and judgement were defined and legitimized within particular contexts. The chapters included in Configuring Madness have been selected and developed in order to provide just a sampling of conversations, perspectives and discursive intersections that emerged during the three-day conference.


Kimberley White

Part I: Narrating Madness: Language, Representation and the Value of Story Telling
“Madness” and “Brain Disorders”: Stigma and Language
Christian Perring

Coming Out Mad: Denial, Stigma and Disclosure of Mental Illness
Claudio Antonio Bonacci

They Wouldn’t Make Good Ophelias: Reality of Experience in Women’s Madness Narratives
Katarzyna Szmigiero

The Urge to Write and the Urge to Kill: Creativity, Violence and the Manipulation of Madness in the work of Peter Kocan
Patrick Bryson

Part II: Paradoxes of Diagnosis and Treatment
Mad Tourists: The “Vectors” and Meanings of City-Syndromes
Nadia Halim

Carving Dreams on Marbles Lost: The Transatlantic Network On Mental Health and the Arts (TRAMHA)
Gonzalo Araoz

Auditory Hallucinations in Schizophrenia: Collaborating with the Voices from Without
Rochelle Suri

From Indiscriminate Love to Imagined Ugliness: A Psychiatrist’s Exploration of the Allure and Despair of Madness
Christine Montross

Part III: Institutionalised Madness: Citizenship, Morality and Management
Religious Insanity and the Limits of Religious Tolerance in 19th Century America
Loren Broc

History of the Present Illness: Is Foucault Still Relevant to the Understanding of Mental Disorder?
Johnathan Sunley

Colonial Psychiatry in British Guiana: Dr Robert Grieve
Letizia Gramaglia

Psychiatric Expertise in New Zealand Courtrooms: The Case of ‘X’
Katey Thom

Out of the Shadows and Into the Spotlight: The Politics of (In)visibility and the Implementation of the Mental Health Commission of Canada
Kimberley White

Notes on Contributors

The Editor

Kimberley White is Associate Professor of Law and Society at York University, Toronto, Canada. Her current research is focused on narratives of legal responsibility, cultural representations of madness and the production of knowledge.