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'Mad Studies' book to explore violence in mental health

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A new book influenced by the burgeoning field of Mad Studies has been green-lighted by Canada’s Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Madness, Violence, and Power: A Radical Collection, is an anthology of first hand and academic accounts exploring violence in the mental health system from those who experience it most – the service users.

“We seem to live in an increasingly violent world, where violence can affect all of us. Yet one group seems to be particularly identified with violence – mental health service users. It’s a very damaging and unjustified coupling,” said Prof Peter Beresford, Brunel’s Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, who edited the book alongside activist and advocate Lucy Costa, and Andrea Daley, Associate Professor and Director of the School of Social Work at Renison University College.

“The aim of this international book, influenced by the new discipline of Mad Studies, is to encourage a different more helpful debate about violence and madness, one which explores the violent responses to people experiencing distress, as well as the societal pressures that madden people – while honestly addressing the violence that is related to madness and distress.”

Contributions to the book were drawn not only from academia, but also from those who have experienced the mental health system from the inside, and can talk directly about the violence inherit in it.

“We were especially anxious to address diversity in this book – as it relates to ethnicity, sexuality, parenthood, gender and so on,” said Prof Beresford, himself a long-time user of mental health services. 

“We wanted to build a body of work that transcended simplistic and narrow medicalised analyses and ignored the knowledge and experience of people experiencing madness and distress themselves. We have tried to be inclusive of different points of view too.”

The book, which will be published in early 2019 by Toronto University Press, will be backed by the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP), a competitive funding scheme by Canada’s Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Reported by:

Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
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