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Why Fiction Matters to Madness

By Brendan Stone


My thesis in this paper is that in ‘fiction’, or to be more precise, in metaphorical, poetic modes of signification, there may inhere great value, even therapeutic value, to the individual who is attempting to survive the depredations of intense distress. Moreover, my argument is that for the self to speak of its own experiences of madness and trauma there may be an imperative – an imperative necessary to survival as a self – to step outside the constraints of a purely informational mode of discourse. Such a modality of speech is very familiar to those of us who use mental health services. It is a discursive mode sanctioned by authority, a discursive mode which surrounds us, interpellates us, even before we begin to speak, a mode which translates the extraordinary, the bizarre and the profoundly disorientating into the medicalised language of diagnosis, prognosis, symptoms, and treatment. Within this discursive realm, experience which challenged rationality and conventional narrative framings of the world is remade, and through this remaking is changed beyond recognition. These medicalised, positivistic modes of speaking about experience may be, I want to argue, not only inadequate, but actually harmful to the individual employing them

Topics: PN
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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