Introducing Mad People's History

Uploaded by ChangSchool on 14.06.2010


My name is David Reville and I want to welcome you to Mad People's History
Mad People's History is a collection of
stories and many of the stories are told by Mad People themselves.
Margery Kemp for instance told her story to a priest in 1436.
Linda Chamberlain on the other hand tells her story often and live and in person. that's
because she's an advocate for supportive housing for people with mental health histories.
Linda used to live in a cardboard box, she says a one bedroom apartment is a whole lot
better. In 2006 my wife and I spent a few days in
Paris. We've been there before so we didn't need to go and see the Arc de Triomphe, the
Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, instead, I wanted to go see La Salpetriere
it's an asylum that was built in the 17th century.
It's easy to get to La Salpetriere, it's a short walk from La Gare d'Austerlitz
and across from Le Jardin des Plantes. it's on the Boulevard de l'Hopital.
On the grounds you're gonna come across a big plaque and on the plaque is a painting
of Charcot giving one of his famous lectures. If you look at the plaque you'll see that
there are about twenty serious looking men paying close attention to the Master.
And as I look at the painting the person I want to know about of course, is not J.M.
Charcot, it's Blanche. Blanche is the prop that Charcot is using in his lecture,
she's a young woman who's said to have hysteria, she has her head thrown back, she's
being supported from behind, there's a nurse standing by.
That's the difference between the history
of psychiatry and Mad People's history. The history of psychiatry is about Charcot,
Mad People\'92s history is about Blanche and it's Blanche we don't get to hear
about and I'd like to change that.
Another reason that I'm interested in the stories of mad people is that I have a mad
story of my own. In the mid-sixties I spent almost two years
in mental hospitals. At first, voluntarily and later, not so much.
The bulk of my time I spent in the Rockwood Asylum, which was part of the Ontario hospital
in Kingston. I started on ward 8, I moved to ward 6, and
then I spent almost a year on ward 2. While I was in the hospital I had plenty of
time to think. And one thing I thought is that madness is different if you're a woman,
and another thing that I thought is madness is different if you're gay
and madness is different if you're working class and madness is different if you're
a Mohawk.
For some years after I got out of hospital I was preoccupied, mostly with survival. I
had terrible trouble getting and keeping a job.
But in the early seventies, I was introduced to Don Weitz and it turned out that he too
had been politicized by his experience in a mental hospital.
And together, we decided we wanted to work for change.
And what we did about that, and others, forms the bulk of this course.
Don and I, and many others formed what came to be called the consumer/survivor/ex-patient
movement. But before I talk about that, I want to talk
about the politics of madness. Module 1 is about the politics of language.
We call mad people all sorts of things, most of them not very complimentary.
But how do mad people describe themselves? Do they accept labels people put on them,
or do they self-label? And if they do, why is it that some people
choose one label, and others another? At the end of module 1 we\'92ll watch a documentary
in which twelve Toronto activists describe how they self-label.