Storming Bedlam Madness, Utopia, and Revolt

Sasha Warren (Author)


Publisher: Common Notions
Format: Book
Binding: pb
Pages: 336
Released: March 19, 2024
ISBN-13: 9781942173892

The contemporary world is oversaturated with psychiatric programs, methods, and reforms promising to address any number of “crises” in mental health care. When these fail, alternatives to the alternatives simply pile up and seem to lead nowhere. 

In an original and compelling account of radical experimentation in psychiatry, Warren traces a double movement in the global development of mental health services throughout the twentieth century: a radical current pushing totalizing and idealistic visions of care to their practical limits and a reactionary one content with managing or eliminating chronically idle surplus populations. 

Moral treatment is read in light of the utopian socialist movement; the theory of communication in the French Institutional Psychotherapy of Félix Guattari is put into conversation with the Brazilian art therapy of Nise da Silveira; the Mexican anti-psychiatry movement’s reflections on violence are thought together with theories of violence developed in Argentinian psychoanalysis and Frantz Fanon’s anticolonial therapeutic practice; the social form of the Italian Democratic Psychiatry and Brazilian anti-institutional movements are contrasted with the anti-psychiatry factions of the 1960s–70s North American counterculture.

Storming Bedlam: Madness, Utopia, and Revolt subverts the divisions between social and biological approaches to mental health or between psychiatry and anti-psychiatry. By exploring the history of psychiatry in the context of revolution, war, and economic development, Warren outlines a minor history of approaches to mental health care grounded in common struggles against conditions of scarcity, poverty, isolation, and exploitation.


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