26. Theory as healing: Mad Studies reading groups

Foundation Perceval – a service user led organization – offers since 2014 in The Netherlands Mad Studies reading groups. A group of 12 participants (consisting mostly of service users) reads and discusses during 10 meetings Mad Studies texts. Through the texts the participants are exposed to words and ideas that describe our experiences with other vocabularies and concepts then that of the dominant medical discourse of psychiatry. Mad Studies gives us a treasury full of words, theories and new ideas. This enables us to question and critically view the dominant views on madness. The course develops confidence and skills that prepares and supports students for higher education. Students are more able to recognize saneism and have a vocubulary for (self-)advocacy. Through connecting with advocacy and activist organisations, locally, nationally and internationally, students and through being in this study group, students counter their loneliness.

There is a need for these reading groups. The groups fill up easily and the participants are very enthusiastic. Two reactions of participants: “Through this group I experienced that madness is not only a problem, it is also an interesting subject to read and discuss about.” “The process of reading and discussing in the group, started to make me think deeper about things. It broadened my horizon.”

The poster will discuss
– How the Mad Studies groups came about, in what context did we start.
– What do the groups consist of: what we read, how do we decide what we read, what kind of discussion do we have, who are the participants, how do we lead the group, the spin off projects.
– how can mad studies groups be of use for students with psychiatric disabilities following higher education to have a succesfull school carreer?

Grietje Keller studies women’s studies. She is the founder of stichting Perceval and organizes Mad Studies reading groups since 2014.