Mad Pride

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A flyer for a 2003 Mad Pride event.

Mad Pride is a mass movement of the users of mental health services, former users, and their allies. The first known event specifically organized as a Pride event by people who identify as psychiatric survivors/consumer/ex-patients was in Toronto, Canada when it was called "Psychiatric Survivor Pride Day", held on September 18, 1993. It was first held in response to local community prejudices towards people with a psychiatric history living in boarding homes in the Parkdale area of the city, and has been held every year since then in this city except 1996.[1] By the late 1990s similar events were being organized as Mad Pride in London, England and around the globe from Australia to South Africa and the United States, drawing thousands of participants, according to MindFreedom International, a United States mental health advocacy organization that promotes and tracks events spawned by the movement.[2]

Mad Pride activists seek to reclaim terms such as "mad", "nutter", and "psycho" from misuse, such as in tabloid newspapers. Through a series of mass media campaigns, Mad Pride activists seek to re-educate the general public on such subjects as the causes of mental disabilities, the experiences of those using the mental health system, and the global suicide pandemic.[citation needed] One of Mad Pride's founding activists was Pete Shaughnessy, who later died by suicide.[3] Robert Dellar and Simon Barnet were among the other founders of the movement. Mad Pride: A celebration of mad culture records the early Mad Pride movement.[4] On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System, published in 1978 by Judi Chamberlin, is a foundational text in the Mad Pride movement, although it was published before the movement was launched.[5]

Mad Studies[edit]

As noted in Mad matters: a critical reader in Canadian mad studies (LeFrançois, Menzies and Reaume, 2013),[6] "Mad Studies can be defined in general terms as a project of inquiry, knowledge production, and political action devoted to the critique and transcendence of psy-centred ways of thinking, behaving, relating, and being".[6]:13 As a book, "'Mad Matters' offers a critical discussion of mental health and madness in ways that demonstrate the struggles, oppression, resistance, agency and perspectives of Mad people to challenge dominant understandings of ‘mental illness’".[7]:3 "Mad Studies is a growing, evolving, multi-voiced and interdisciplinary field of activism, theory, praxis and scholarship."[7]:1


Mad Pride parade in Salvador, Brazil, in 2009.

Mad Pride was launched alongside a book of the same name, Mad Pride: A celebration of mad culture, published in 2000.[4] On May 11, 2008, Gabrielle Glaser documented Mad Pride in The New York Times.[8] Glaser stated, "Just as gay-rights activists reclaimed the word queer as a badge of honor rather than a slur, these advocates proudly call themselves mad; they say their conditions do not preclude them from productive lives." The Mad Pride movement was further mentioned in The Huffington Post.[9]

Mad culture and events[edit]

Bed Push at Mad Pride parade in Cologne, Germany, in 2016

The Mad Pride movement has spawned recurring cultural events in Toronto, London, and other cities around the world. These events often include music, poetry readings, film screenings, and street theatre, such as "bed push" protests, which aim to raise awareness about the poor levels of choice of treatments and the widespread use of force in psychiatric hospitals.[10] included British journalist Jonathan Freedland,[11] and popular novelist Clare Allan.[12] Mad Pride cultural events take a variety of forms, such as the South London collective Creative Routes, the Chipmunka Publishing enterprise, and the many works of Dolly Sen.[13]

Bed push[edit]

Mad Pride Week in Toronto is proclaimed as such by the city itself. Highlighted by the Mad Pride Bed Push, the festival is now in its fourteenth year.[14]

A series of bed push events take place around London each year.[14]

The ABC-TV show Primetime: The Outsiders ran a segment about Mad Pride on August 25, 2009 that included interviews with actor Joey Pantoliano, musician Madigan Shive, and director of MindFreedom International David W. Oaks.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reaume, Geoffrey (July 14, 2008). "A History of Psychiatric Survivor Pride Day during the 1990s". The Consumer/Survivor Information Resource Centre Bulletin, No. 374. 
  2. ^ 'Mad Pride' Fights a Stigma
  3. ^ Pete Shaughnessy r.i.p.
  4. ^ a b Theodore R Curtis (1996). Mad Pride. Hackney, London: Spare Change Books. ISBN 0-95257-445-4. 
  5. ^ Lawrence, J.M. (20 January 2010). "Judi Chamberlin, writings took on mental health care". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Brenda LeFrançois, Robert Menzies and Geoffrey Reaume, editors (2013) Mad matters: a critical reader in Canadian mad studies, Toronto, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc. ISBN 978-1-55130-534-9
  7. ^ a b Mark Anthony Castrodale (2014) "Mad matters: a critical reader in Canadian mad studies", Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, doi:10.1080/ 15017419.2014.895415
  8. ^ Gabrielle Glaser (May 11, 2008). "'Mad Pride' Fights a Stigma". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 11, 2008. 
  9. ^ Staff writers (May 12, 2008). "Glad To Be Mad: Mentally Ill Start 'Mad Pride' Movement". The Huffington Post., Inc. Retrieved May 26, 2008. 
  10. ^ The Great Escape Bed Push
  11. ^ Brand, Jo (2007-05-08). "Glad to be 'mad'?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 4, 2007. 
  12. ^ Allan, Clare (2006-11-27). "Misplaced pride". Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on January 9, 2008. 
  13. ^ Dolly Sen (October 2002) World Is Full of Laughter: 1 Million People Commit Suicide Every Year, Chipmunka Publishing ISBN 978-0-95422-181-2
  14. ^ a b "MAD! Pride Breaks the Stigma of Mental Illness". 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  15. ^ Ia Robinson; Astrid Rodrigues (2009-08-24). "'Mad Pride' Activists Fight Against Mental Illness Stigma – ABC News". Retrieved 2013-08-02. 

External links[edit]