1st Edition

Madness, Art, and Society Beyond Illness

By Anna Harpin Copyright 2018
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages
    by Routledge

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    How is madness experienced, treated, and represented? How might art think around – and beyond – psychiatric definitions of illness and wellbeing?

    Madness, Art, and Society engages with artistic practices from theatre and live art to graphic fiction, charting a multiplicity of ways of thinking critically with, rather than about, non-normative psychological experience. It is organised into two parts:

    • ‘Structures: psychiatrists, institutions, treatments’, illuminates the environments, figures and primary models of psychiatric care, reconsidering their history and contemporary manifestations through case studies including David Edgar’s Mary Barnes and Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
    • ‘Experiences: realities, bodies, moods’, promblematises diagnostic categories and proposes more radically open models of thinking in relation to experiences of madness, touching upon works such as Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko and Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places, and Things.

    Reading its case studies as a counter-discourse to orthodox psychiatry, Madness, Art, and Society seeks a more nuanced understanding of the plurality of madness in society, and in so doing, offers an outstanding resource for students and scholars alike.

    Introduction: Beyond Illness


    Part One: Structures: Psychiatrists, Institutions, Treatments

    Chapter One: ‘I am no more mad than you are; make the trial of it in any constant question’:

    R.D. Laing and the Figure of the Psychiatrist

    Chapter Two: ‘I guess that this must be the place’: Sites of Madness

    Chapter Three: ‘It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient’: Treating Madness


    Part Two: Experiences: Realities, Bodies, Moods


    Chapter Four: Imagining Reality: Perceptual Experiences on Stage and Screen

    Chapter Five: ‘I watch myself disappear in their eyes, in their tesses, I talk loud but

    still I don’t exist’: Women’s Bodies and Psychopathology

    Chapter Six: Something and Nothing: Moods of Madness



    Anna Harpin is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Warwick, and Co-Artistic Director of the theatre company Idiot Child, with whom she works as a writer and director.