By Ann Cain
What is Mad Pride and Why Is It Important?
July is Disability Pride Month! There is so much that encompasses a disabled identity. Our blog this month focuses on Mad Pride, included in Disability Pride. Mad pride includes the celebration of Madness, psychiatric survivors, and the promotion of the continued liberation of those hurt by the psychiatric industrial complex. Mad pride is celebrated alongside Disability pride, noting the similarities in disparities in treatment, access to resources, and abuse by the medical system (Finkler, 2009).
How is Bastille Day Connected to The Mad Pride Movement?
Bastille Day marks the freedom of French prisoners from Bastille. Many of these prisoners were psychiatric inmates. Bastille day is celebrated as a representation of the liberation of Mad folks from psychiatry. A demonstration for Bastille Day was first held by the Mental Patients Alliances of Central New York on July 14th, 1981 (Kovary, 2008). Since then, activists and survivors have participated in the movement including protests, advocacy, and celebration of Mad pride.
I thought Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Professionals Were Supposed to Help?
It is true that many folks are helped by the current system. The Mad pride movement does not wish to eliminate or ignore those experiences. The movement exists to acknowledge and elevate the voices of those who were harmed. Mad Pride Toronto writes, “Mad Pride emerged out of many historical movements for self-determination and dignity, including Black Liberation, Women’s Liberation, “Mad liberation”, anti-psychiatry, ex-psychiatric patient, self-reliance, anti-poverty, consumer survivor, service user and other movements” (Toronto Mad Pride).
Mad pride emphasizes our right to self-determination. This includes decisions made about our treatment including medication, therapy, and other psychiatric treatments including electro-convulsive therapy. Bodily autonomy is a right we all deserve. Psychiatric treatment has been routinely forced on those who have not consented. This can be a scary thought for clinicians who are doing their best to help those who are struggling. A great first step is seeking education and resources created by Mad folks, engaging in conversations around this material, and elevating the voices of those who have been affected.
Below are resources to learn more about the movement and first hand experiences from Mad folks telling their stories:
Mad In America: https://www.madinamerica.com/
Mind Freedom International: https://www.madinamerica.com/
Toronto Mad Pride: http://www.torontomadpride.com/
Information for consumer/survivors of the mental health system, those who serve us, and those who care about us. The Consumer/Survivor Information Resource Centre of Toronto . (2009, July 15). http://www.csinfo.ca/bulletin/Bulletin_398.pdf
Kovary, M. (2021, July 16). “the origins of Bastille Day as a celebration of Mental Patients Liberation” . MindFreedom International (MFI). https://mindfreedom.org/kb/bastille-day-and-mh-liberation/
Mad Pride – since when?. Toronto Mad Pride. (2017, March 4). http://www.torontomadpride.com/history/#:~:text=Mad%20Pride%20emerged%20out%20of,service%20user%20and%20other%20movements