paragraph regarding mental health – Excelsior Writers |
Excelsior Writers |

This week there are two questions. The first is around language. I’ve noticed, in a lot the comments, students continue to use terminology like “patient” or “person with mental illness”. Why do people continue to use these terms despite having read work like Diamond’s or Burstow’s? and why might mad folk prefer the term c/s/x (consumer/survivor/ex-patient or ex-inmate) or even “mad folk”?
The second question is, why is it important to compile a range of personal experiences with psychiatric services?


I would like to start off by saying that I am guilty of using dominant terms, as the ones mentioned above. This course has really opened my eyes regarding the different types of terms used to label psychiatric survivors. For example, before this course, I didn’t even know that there were refusal terms, like “psychiatric survivor”, “ex-inmate”, etc. Now, I do try to incorporate this new language into my daily conversations however, I still slip up and use the former terms. I believe that students continue to use these terms because this is how society has labelled Mad folk. It is the terminology used to stigmatize, alienate and ostracize individuals who are going through mental distress. Further, it is because of these terms that there is a specific image of what a psychiatric survivor should be like. As Jennifer Poole and Jennifer Ward mention in Chapter 6, there is a binary in society that separates people into higher powers vs. lower powers. Psychiatric survivors unfortunately fall into this lower power that society views as sick, disabled and unreliable. Many people are unfamiliar with these “mad-pro” terms, and therefore, they resort to using terms that are used more often in the wider society to identify individuals in this marginalized group. Mad folk might prefer refusal terms over dominant terms because in this way, they are taking the oppressive label away from the oppressor and embracing it as a part of their identity. These terms take away the shame and stigma associated with those who are deemed “mad”. Regarding the second question, I think it’s important to compile many different personal experiences with psychiatric services because survivors like Ji-Eun Lee (Chapter 7) can have an opportunity to make sense of their own traumatic experiences and share them with others who may also be in distress. Story telling is more personal and in a sense, more honest, than what the biomedical model suggests psychiatric survivors might go through. These experiences shaped the survivor into the person they are and it is important that, through storytelling, they are able to share these experiences in order to “break open the bone” and let out everything they have been holding in and build a community with others who have been stigmatized, oppressed and traumatized.

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