Love in a Time of Madness: The Importance of Purpose and Belonging in Healing and Harnessing Madness

Show simple item record Yakas, Laura 2018-10-25T17:45:59Z 2018-10-25T17:45:59Z 2018
dc.description.abstract This is a vulnerable ethnography (Behar 1996) about the experience of Madness in a neoliberal-ableist society. In it, I combine ethnography with members and staff at a Michigan Psychosocial Clubhouse – a non-clinical strengths-based program that employs meaningful work and community building in order to meet the recovery goals of its membership, impoverished people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities – with my own reflections as an “ex-patient.” In order to present my varied knowledge on this topic, I employ three metaphorical “microphones”; one for the academic voice, one for the unadulterated self, and one for tangential comedy. There is an inevitable darkness to this topic. Madness is a collective and neutral phenomenon that has been individualized, problematized, and reduced to “mental illness” or “psychiatric disability” to the detriment of justice. Additionally, the wider world we live in – the “current regime of neoliberal, white-supremacist, imperial-capitalist, cis-hetero-patriarchy” (Hedva 2016) – makes people Mad, and creates conditions in which social needs – like purpose and belonging – are very difficult to meet (which keeps people Mad). However, my “findings” are far from dark, because in spite of all this, people who experience the injustice of such medicalization and marginalization – like the clubhouse community I grew to love – steadfastly live unlivable lives. They continue to centralize the fringe and challenge the center, and in doing so prove that oppression’s power – though incontrovertibly destructive to our bodies/minds – need not extend to our souls, as it does not preclude the possibility of a rich and meaningful life. In addition to contributing to the anthropological literatures on disability, work (as it relates to purpose), and kinship (as it relates to belonging), I make the following contributions; 1) I testify to the collective problems of trauma, oppression, medicalization, unmet social needs, and the fact that, in spite of intentions and successes, the U.S. mental health system remains an insidious source of harm; 2) I demonstrate that people – as individuals and collectives – can change for the better, and provide a toolkit for doing so on varying levels (i.e. strategies for healing and harnessing one’s own madness, recommendations for people looking to be active agents for socially just change, and recommendations for clinicians who work with people experiencing Madness/mental illness); 3) Because I creatively employ many of my voices – the interdisciplinary scholar, activist, musician (songs are included via YouTube links), ex-patient, Madwoman, anti-oppressive educator, and comedienne – I aim to not only reach readers with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, but also to model the vulnerability and authenticity I believe necessary for addressing a phenomenon as complex and existential as Madness, and to use my power (and the power of my intellectual ancestors) to make it easier for future scholars to do similarly integrated work.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject Mad Studies
dc.subject Disability Studies
dc.subject Psychiatric Rehabilitation
dc.subject Vulnerable ethnography
dc.title Love in a Time of Madness: The Importance of Purpose and Belonging in Healing and Harnessing Madness
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename PHD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline Social Work & Anthropology
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Partridge, Damani James
dc.contributor.committeemember Staller, Karen M
dc.contributor.committeemember Peters-Golden, Holly
dc.contributor.committeemember Tolman, Richard M
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel American and Canadian Studies
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Anthropology and Archaeology
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Social Sciences (General)
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Social Work
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Arts
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Humanities
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Social Sciences
dc.identifier.orcid 0000-0002-4111-2338
dc.description.filedescription Description of lyakas_1.pdf : Restricted to UM users only. Yakas, Laura; 0000-0002-4111-2338 en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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