Madness, Identity, and Recognition

Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed in conversation with Helen Spandler

Madness is a complex and contested term. Through time and across cultures it has acquired many formulations, but among the different formulations, there is one in particular that has become the default view in many communities around the world: the idea that madness is a disorder of the mind. 

In this conversation with Helen Spander, philosopher Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed will argue that contemporary developments in mental health activism pose a radical challenge to psychiatric and societal understandings of madness. Activists seek cultural change in the way madness is viewed, and demand recognition of madness as grounds for identity. But can madness constitute such grounds? Is it possible to reconcile delusions, passivity phenomena, and the discontinuity of self often seen in mental health conditions with the requirements for identity formation presupposed by the theory of recognition?

Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed is a visiting lecturer in the department of philosophy at King’s College, London, as well as an associate specialist in community psychiatry at Camden and Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust. His main research is in philosophy of psychiatry where he has examined a number of topics including the boundaries of illness, definitions of concepts of mental disorder and distress, the diagnostic process in psychiatry, and the phenomenology of delusions and hallucinations. His first book, Madness and the Demand for Recognition: A Philosophical Inquiry into Identity and Mental Health Activism, was published in 2019 by Oxford University Press. mohammedarashed.website2.me

Helen Spandler is professor of mental health studies at the University of Central Lancashire. Her latest (edited) book is Distress or Disability?: Mental Health and the Politics of Disablement (2015). She holds a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to explore the role of zines in crafting contention about madness and distress (see https://madzines.org). Helen is the managing editor of Asylum: The Radical Mental Health Magazine. asylummagazine.org/ twitter.com/hspandler

Monday 20th June

7pm (UK time)/2pm (EST)