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Making Sense of Mad Studies

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The Neoliberal Politics of Recovery In this paper I provide a Mad Studies informed analysis of the implementation of “recovery” as a policy object and commitment in the UK. This can be situated as part of the New Labour government’s (1997-2010) reform of the NHS during the 2000s. Through a textual analysis of policy and legislation from this time I draw out a tension between contemporary ideals of choice and autonomy in healthcare and the specificities of a mental healthcare system in which psychiatrists are legislatively empowered to treat patients without their consent. In the UK, evidence continues to show that the most economically and socially disadvantaged members of British society are most likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act 2007. This paper provides an intersectional analysis of the ways in which policy, legislation and psychiatrization enact particular subjects as ‘failed’ citizens. I argue that these practices of exclusion and detainment are constituent elements of neoliberal state-making, which are discriminatory and unjust. Exploring recovery as part of a global neoliberal capitalist agenda, I propose that psychiatric services can be conceptualised as a state border through which certain bodies are produced as deviant in order to capitalise upon those bodies as sites for accumulation (as Angela Davis and Gina Dent (2001) argue in relation to prisons). In doing so, I draw out the connections between madness and mass incarceration, highlighting multiple and interconnected forms of disenfranchisement, dispossession and social injustice.

Event (Conference)

TitleMaking Sense of Mad Studies
LocationDurham University
CountryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionInternational event