Personal Narratives of Madness

For the first time, the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry has decided to include the contribution made by personal narratives of madness by including a critical annotated bibliography in its companion website. The resource was edited by Jayasree Kalathil, in collaboration with survivor researchers Jasna Russo, Debra Shulkes and David Crepaz-Keay. The purpose of this collection is to offer a range of stories written by, selected and annotated by people labelled mad. It also contains writings – not always by mad people – that raise ethical and methodological questions about ‘studying’ mad people’s narratives.  It does not purport to be representative or balanced, and although these sound like objective terms they have often been used by people in power to criticise or silence voices they would rather not hear.

In the introduction to the resource, Jayasree and David state: "Much has been written about the notion of representativeness, and some of these narratives illustrate how the concept is used to marginalise voices that do not conform: to societal norms of behaviour and morality and to academic rules about research and objective scholarly enquiry. Less has been written about balance. We think that the concept of balance is important and with that in mind, this collection seeks to start the significant task of balancing the overwhelming majority of material written about those who are labelled mad by those who do the labelling and those who study them so that we can see a more balanced whole."

The entries included in the collection, as of now, is predominantly Euro-centric, especially from countries where there have been a strong user/survivor movement. It is expected that the collection will be added to, and will explore more varied positions and different formats other than the written form.

Download the resource.


Different Tales: Stories from Marginal Cultures and Regional Languages

school kids‘Different Tales,’ a project of Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies in Hyderabad, India, aims to produce a series of stories for children between the ages of 8 and 12. All stories deal with themes that are not usually covered in mainstream children’s story books, and highlight the resilience of children from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. The decision to produce these books were based on the findings of a three year project that looked at children's books and what was available to children from marginalised communities.

This is a three-language project with books produced in English, Malayalam and Telugu. Jayasree is the Editor of the Malayalam series. She has also written one of the books in the series, The Sackclothman, which explores the friendship between the village "madman" and a little girl.

Read more about the project and about the books.