Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies
Edited by: Brenda A. LeFrançois, Robert Menzies, and Geoffrey Reaume
Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
Review by: Kristen, Pride in a Madness
Mad Matters sits on my shelf alongside Anatomy of an Epidemic (Robert Whitaker, 2010), Talking Back to Psychiatry (Linda J. Morrison, 2009), Psychiatric Power and History of Madness (Foucault, 2008 and 2009) and Behind the Rhetoric (Jennifer Poole, 2011); books that have influenced my life as a Mad person and professional. This reader is now an important part of my activism. As psychiatry has its “bible”, the DSM, I would say that I now have mine. Mad Matters is beginning to fill a gap within education (in and outside of institutions) and mainstream discourse, showing the complexity of identities, exposing a side of psychiatry and society many prefer to ignore and by providing language to describe the experience: sanism. My only hope is that it has opened the doors for more to come and for Mad studies, scholars and people to be taken seriously.
Mad Matters is filled with diverse and key topics such as housing, media, mental health literacy, law, Indigenous ways of knowing and the oppressions of psychiatry (just to name a few). Names of contributors jump out at me like Irit Shimrat, David Reville, Don Weitz, Bonnie Burstow and Lanny Beckman, long time activists within the psychiatric survivor, antipsychiatry, ex-patient/inmate and Mad movements. Good people who eat, sleep and breathe the cause are inside these pages. The amount of lived experience in Mad Matters is nothing short of beautiful.
On a personal note, I have often said to friends, family and colleagues that I find it unacceptable and ridiculous that the western world has made great strides in bring critical of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism etc. but sanism is still alive and well and at times outright denied to exist. I would like our system and our society to get to the point where, for example, my decision to not take psychiatric drugs is seen as a valid choice and not as wrong, a sign that I am not “truly in pain”, or as non-compliance and a symptom of “disorder”. I have received criticism for my Mad and antipsychiatry stance. They are identities I am still developing in a society that prefers I just think of myself as “sick”. I have engaged in a lot of self reflection while reading Mad Matters and this reader was a reminder that I am, as the ever famous anti-stigma campaign slogan states, “not alone”.
Mad Matters is a critical piece that I feel has been missing from the mental health dialogue and Mad studies is part of solution to changing these sanist perspectives, practices and values.
Purchase Mad Matters
A co-worker of mine introduced to me a website called Coursera. She told me she had signed up for a free course on mental health using this website and that she gets a certificate of completion at the end. I thought she was mistaken and asked her to send me the link. I love learning and being out of school has been really lame. I always want to be learning so if this course was for real then I had to get involved.
I checked it out and sure enough this website offers free courses from notable universities such as:
- University of Toronto
- University of British Columbia
- Johns Hopkins University
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
There are a variety of subjects such as:
- Clinical Problem Solving
- Introduction to Music Production
- Internet History, Technology and Security
- The Ancient Greeks
- Community Change in Public Health
- Drugs and the Brain
With 33 universities and 221 courses there is something for everyone! You do not earn a credit but you earn a certificate of completion which demonstrates that you are taking the initiative to expand your learning which can of course be included on your resume!
“Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”- About, Coursera
So, my blog title says AIDS. I have signed up for the AIDS course which is beginning in 13 days and is a 9 week course with a workload of 3-4 hours a week. The course is from Emory University and Kimberly Sessions Hagen is the professor teaching.
I want to take this course because it was not greatly discussed while I was in school. I know that I had classmates who had HIV/AIDS but we never got into the nitty gritty of the issue in ways that I feel like this course will. I work with youth who have addictions issues so AIDS is a very real thing for them and I want to know more. There is never harm in knowing more.
“This course will discuss HIV/AIDS in the US and around the world including its history, science, and culture as well as recent developments in prevention education, biomedical research, vaccine development, HIV testing, and current treatments. The course will also include a review of past, present, and potential future controversies surrounding HIV/AIDS”.
Committed Action builds off of the Rediscover your Values I did last time. The worksheet requires that I identify those values which I ranked 5-10 and identify an intention and actions for each value. The purpose of this is to encourage me to engage in activities that will help fulfill my life and meet my values. There are 3 spaces on the worksheet (you can photocopy more) so I’ll use the top 3 that I ranked with a 10.
“Having a fulfilling life can give you something to look forward to when you’re doing something you don’t like, and it can make you feel stronger during times of distress.”- DBT Workbook
1. A component of my life I value is: Family
My intention for this component is: Interact with my family more.
The committed actions that I’m willing to take include the following:
- Call at least once a week
- Visit at least once a month (if money is available)
- Do what I can to be available for special events
2. A component of my life I value is: Romantic Relationship
My intention for this component is: Respect my partner’s space.
The committed actions that I’m willing to take include the following:
- Be more empathetic to his needs
- Not talk about myself so much
3. A component of my life I value is: Education and Training
My intention for this component is: Keep learning
The committed actions that I’m willing to take include the following:
- Attend more free lectures
- Read more books
- Attend classes (if money allows)
“There is more than one way in this world to be an educated man.”
I am an educated women. I graduated from elementary school, graduated from high school and graduated from university. I am waiting to hear if I have been accepted into college and if I am I will graduate from that. I am an educated woman. This is something not all young girls and women have the opportunity to achieve but this does not actually mean I am more educated then they are. After 16 years of schooling I can tell you that without a doubt the most value things I’ve learned in life were not in school. I learned them by living. School does not mean education and education does not mean school but currently our society only recognizes those pieces of paper that you went into debt for.
I am guilty of thinking that I am “better” because I went to university and that is a belief that is supported by my country but it is not true. Here is my reality:
I have a 4 year bachelor degree which has not gotten me a job since I graduated from university in June 2011.
I have almost $28,000 in student debt which I have been unable to pay off since graduating in June 2011 despite having a 4 year bachelor degree.
I am hoping to go back to college for a diploma in ECE which in theory should get me a job. This will lead to more debt.
I work alongside other “educated” people but also with high school students. We make the same amount of money. My 4 year bachelor degree earns me the same amount as a kid who doesn’t have their high school diploma yet.
I have almost 4 years experience working with children and even more years of experience doing mental health work. No one cares.
The paper talks.
I am now experiencing what I only watched on tv: the diet.I’m not excited about food and the grocery store makes me depressed.
I’m trying really hard to watch the amount of cholesterol I eat!
I googled and found that on average, for a woman, I should originally have consumed 200 mg of cholesterol/day (with the odd going over just because I could). This current recommendation will not work since I’m already high and 200 mg/day is to keep the levels stable. I’m going to do my very best to consume between 0 mg- 100 mg of cholesterol/day. I’m also talking an omega 3-6-9 horse pill every day to hopefully help cut the bad and up the good!
I started writing it all down today and it was very helpful! Here is yesterday:
- o mg (because I didn’t eat anything! I had to go to the bank and find out why I was charged a fee I was told I wouldn’t have!)
- Ancient grain whoo haw bread (2 slices): 0 mg
- Tomato (2 slices): 0 mg
- Pickle (1): 0 mg
- Chicken lunch meat (2 slices): estimate 7.5 mg
- Italian Dressing (low fat): 0 mg
- Lettuce (1 leaf): 0 mg
- Almond Milk (1 full glass): 0 mg
- Apple (1): 0 mg
- Almonds (15 pieces): 0 mg
- Raspberry Smoothie Popsicle (1): 0 mg
- Apple (1): 0 mg
- Cranberry Cocktail (591 mL): 0 mg
- Baked Lays Potato Chips (1 bag): 0 mg (flavourless, never eating them again!)
- Cold Cut Subway Sandwich (6 inch, no cheese, no sub sauce): estimate 30-40 mg
Dinner was stupid because I was heading to group and I thought I could hold off on dinner and I couldn’t. I thought I was being healthy but I guess there is just something about eating out that is just nasty! My sandwich earlier was so much better for me!
I have some good food ideas for today since I’m going to go out to dinner with co-workers again. It will be 0 cholesterol until dinner and even then it would be overboard.
I am upset about having to think about food. I hate that I have to cut out some of the foods I love or greatly reduce how much of them I eat. A sandwich with out cheese? It kills me (and keeping the cheese will)!
When I was buying groceries today I was checking out the soups. I love soup, especially the creamy soups. All of my favourite soups were 10-20 mg of cholesterol. The healthier soups that had 0 mg were all bean. I don’t like bean. I just kept picking stuff up and putting it back. I wanted muffins but they were 30 mg (the berry ones)!
I am learning a lot though and learning fast!
Such as, why get muffins when I can get the raspberry smoothie popsicles?
When a package says 5 mg per 1/2 pack I only eat half the pack (frozen vegetable and pork Chinese dumplings)!
And probably most importantly, learning what is worth the cholesterol intake and what is not. For example, I went to Harvey’s last night because they are the better burger option when measured against McDonalds. I asked the cashier for their nutrition information and she told me how much cholesterol was in each of the sandwiches. I settled on the hamburger which was 15 mg. Now, I have these double chunk chocolate cookies that I bought before my doctor told me about my new health issue. These cookies are also 15 mg/2 cookies! Do I want to eat 15 mg in a burger (that’s a meal) or two cookies? I’m totally going for the burger!
I am, as we speak, googling cholesterol free meals so I can get excited about eating! I love food! I don’t like making food but I love eating so this just blows! There are a lot of good ideas out there! I live in a city where I have access to many health stores that will have what I need to correct what I’ve created.
Day 9: How important you think education is
I hold a 4 year bachelors degree from a university so I think I could safely say the education is important me. I love learning! I think learning is what helps us grow and develop as people and as a society! Education is awesome! Education would be more awesome if it was affordable!
I’m really not just talking about formal education but also the side classes one can take, the lessons learned from live experience and the traditions passed down through families and cultures.
Day 10: Put your music player on shuffle and write the first 10 songs that play
4. Jessie J- Who’s Laughing Now (This song is dedicated to those I went to high school with)
10. Foals- Hummer (Skins Secret Party!! I would be in this group of friends. This video reminds me of what it was like to be a teen)
Back in April I wrote about how I wanted to save for school and go get my Masters in Early Childhood Studies in 2014.
I have abandoned that idea for the time being because I am in absolutely no financial situation to save up that amount of money and I very much do not want to add to the student debt that I still have not paid off. I will be applying for repayment assistance for a third time next month.
I am also thinking of the new couch, refrigerator and trip I would like to go on. $10,000 tuition is just not possible right now.
A fellow Madvocate last week mentioned a program that Ryerson University has about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). My further research has shown that this is a certificate program offered through the school’s continuing education program.
Here is the course description:
This certificate combines theory with the development and application of skills for students who wish to make contributions to policy and organizational change in areas impacted by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The AODA mandates the development of accessibility standards in the areas of customer service, employment, information and communications, built environments, and transportation. Potential students include those in occupations that address, or that should be addressing, the accessibility issues in public sector, private, and not-for-profit sector organizations with obligations under the AODA. Students will graduate from the certificate with a deep understanding of “disability”, and learn the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively engage their organizations in barrier identification, problem solving, planning, and decision making that will improve the accessibility of organizations for persons with disabilities.
Participants will experience a new understanding of disability. Each learner will develop the capacity to understand the impacts of societal barriers and formulate and articulate concrete strategies for identifying, removing, and preventing barriers at their workplaces and their daily lives. Courses will emphasize how to ameliorate many of the disadvantages Ontarians with one or more disabilities face, such as how to modify environments; augment methods of communicating/sharing information; convey people; organize work; and provide customer service.
I think it sounds amazing and something I could be extremely go at! I would of course take a mental health view to everything I wrote for classes! Two of the electives are also Madness courses taught by Ryerson’s School of Disability Studies which looks at mental health, first of all, and looks at in a less medical way which is fantastic!
I would really like to do this but I can’t seem to find the fees anywhere! Although I’m pretty sure it’s the same as 1 year of school which still puts me at a huge disadvantage financially but would add less debt if need be.
I guess I’ll call the school tomorrow and ask about fees. They also have an open house in November. It just means I would miss work. So actually phone it is. I’m not missing a day of work for something that may not happen.
I want to go back to school! I want to keep learning and make myself more qualified for jobs! Clearly my current degree means shit all to people. I’ve been working job with high school students (as much as I adore my young co workers) for over a year! I want my damn job!
Sorry, I got hostile.