Madness and the demand for recognitionA philosophical inquiry into identity and mental health activism

Madness and the demand for recognitionA philosophical inquiry into identity and mental health activism

Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed

Print publication date: Feb 2019

ISBN: 9780198786863

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Madness and the Demand for Recognition: A Philosophical Inquiry into Identity and Mental Health Activism is the first comprehensive philosophical examination of the claims and demands of Mad Pride and mad-positive activism (Mad activism). Contemporary developments in mental health activism pose a radical challenge to psychiatric and societal understandings of madness. Mad activism rejects the language of mental illness and mental disorder, reclaims the term “mad,” and reverses its negative connotations. Not content with reform of psychiatry, activists seek cultural change in the way madness is viewed, and demand recognition of madness as grounds for culture or identity. But can madness constitute such grounds? Is it possible to reconcile delusions, passivity phenomena, and the discontinuity of self often seen in certain mental health conditions with the requirements for identity formation presupposed by the theory of recognition? And, in any case, why does recognition matter, and how should society respond to such demands? Locating itself in the philosophy of psychiatry, Mad studies, and activist literatures, and in the tradition of philosophical thought on recognition, freedom, and identity that begins with Georg Hegel and Immanuel Kant, and continues into the present day through the work of Charles Taylor, Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, Kwame Appiah, and Richard Rorty, the book develops a rich theoretical framework for understanding, justifying, and responding to Mad activism’s demand for recognition. It charts a pathway for reconciling opponents and supporters of Mad activism and, ultimately, for reconciling madness and society.