Dina began to pray, and you know when Dina starts to pray, things are getting serious.
Dina Tyler, my longtime colleague and beloved friend, and I had been having one of those days again. The days that I think we can all relate to: pandemic-addled, careening-towards-ecological-catastrophe, pervaded by brutal economic inequality and greed, terrified by the threat of potential nuclear war, hiding in our screens and social media bubbles, retreating into goblin mode disarray. Teetering on burnout. Both of us have many years as organizers in the psychiatric survivor movement, me in Portland Oregon and Western Massachusetts, and Dina with her leadership in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are both deeply nourished by our work, but we also carry the scars of conflict and burdens of burnout that so many activists carry. We had emptiness inside us; parts of us had lost hope.
We felt our life dream, the dream of abolishing psychiatry and replacing it with love, was failing. And that’s all we could think about. It was one of those days.
Failing not in the small things—we do see people get out of the system, we see people reclaim their freedom and heal their pain, we see ourselves finding a life outside psychiatry. We know that there are many victories to celebrate: our issues are more visible, there are a few more alternatives (a few). But failing in the big picture, our movement failing overall. More people are hurt by drugs than ever before, more people are crushed by psych labels than ever before, more people are kidnapped and assaulted by psychiatric forced treatment than ever before… and our society is more harsh and cruel and materialist and competitive and isolated than ever before, and just doesn’t want to make space for mad people. A seemingly endless horror of human destruction caused by the business as usual in a capitalist society, neglecting people in the name of economics and harming people in the name of “mental health” as society marches in an endless rat race to nowhere. With things only getting worse at the big picture level, in the years since we started being volunteer activists. Only getting worse.
We both were diagnosed with psychosis years ago, and even though we both have stepped into completely different lives, even though we have defied every prediction the doctors and hospitals tried to burn into our minds with drugs and scary sounding scientific jargon, we still have our deep inner fears. What if all the activism we did was just a futile waste of time, a fool’s self-indulgence to be volunteer advocates for so many years? What if we really are just crazy? We are both getting older, not making much money, activism seems like just running in circles… NAMI steals movement ideas and slick money people with salaries and grants seem to rise to the top on the backs of volunteers… What’s the point of putting more volunteer energy into this vague thing we call “the movement”? Maybe we need to just focus on our careers… Settle down. Get real. Grow up. What if we need to not just be ex-patients, what if we need to be ex-activists? We did our part, we tried, maybe now it’s time to focus on ourselves, not changing the world? What if we need to just… move on?
But we also had this idea… and it was kind of a crazy idea. We were not sure. We kept sort of setting it aside… leaving it alone… But we had this idea.
Dina and I were dear friends with Jay Mahler—and Jay was a very close colleague and mentor for Dina (we interviewed Jay on Madness Radio, you can listen here). Jay was a connection with the roots of the psychiatric survivor movement for Dina and also for me: Jay came up in the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, and he had been part of the very early days of the ‘60s New Left, anti-war, and civil rights protests that were the crucible for protests and activism to abolish psychiatry, days that gave birth to everything in mental health activism today. The work of Jay and the early ’70s movement led to everything from the peer movement to the rights and advocacy system to patient-run organizations like the Pool of Consumer Champions, to paving the way for Open Dialogue and Hearing Voices Groups to take hold. Jay was a direct link for us to the energy and vitalism at the heart of the movement. And so when Jay died last year, our own hopelessness and despair was made darker. We lost one of our inspirations, one of our shining lights. It was fading, the dream we all had, maybe we should just move on.
But we also, from Jay, had this idea. Or rather Dina did. Jay told Dina stories about the early days, the organizing… It was really just friendship, community, connection… People hanging out. No screens. No zoom. No email lists. No webinars. No tweets or posts or feeds or whatever people are up to today. Just people. And they used to go to the park and camp out; they used to talk and meet and share food and bond. And from that human connection, the fire, commitment, and vision of the psych survivor movement was nourished.
Dina had seen the film Crip Camp about the summer camps disability activists organized for people with physical disabilities… and even in the dark times of grieving after Jay died, Dina had this idea. What is the real source of our inspiration, of our hope, of our vision? What is missing in our moments of despair and burnout, what really do we need more than anything? Each other. Not jobs or grants or events or even conferences. It’s each other. We need each other. That’s the heart of the movement. And with all the money and recovery industry grantmaking and contract bidding and job description writing and certification training and likes and shares and branding and all of it… we were, as a movement, and us as people, drifting away from the simple truth: the mad movement is about people meeting each other, face to face, and forming bonds of caring and camaraderie.
So how about a gathering that’s just about people, to connect and know each other and just be together? What if we have fun? What if we relax and hang out? What if we play? What if we meet each other? We started to get excited. This is the antidote to hopelessness, fear, isolation, burnout… each other.
We decided to organize a summer camp. A summer camp for mad people. Mad Camp! We are going to organize Mad Camp!
Crazy? You bet!
And so we finally decided to take a big leap and bring our idea into practical action, put it out in the world and start gathering supporters and resources. But we still weren’t sure. We hadn’t made the first move. It was time to get serious.
So Dina led us in a ritual, and we prayed.
And through it we found some clarity, some strength, and yes, some faith. (Or we found shared self-delusion and a sense of inflated grandiose self-importance in a hypomanic moment—however you want to see it, go ahead, it works for us!). And we announced Mad Camp to the world.
A first post, a fundraiser launch, calls to friends (especially Monica Cassani, who joined our volunteer crew right away), more discussion… We didn’t know what would happen next. Maybe nobody else would share our mad excitement? But Mad Camp did start to take form, and each step of organizing this project—which is really super complicated logistically, as you can imagine—has confirmed something to us: Yes, people want to make Mad Camp happen. As crazy as it might be, this idea, born out of the memory of Jay and in his spirit, is catching fire, in that way that movements need to catch fire to be a movement. People volunteered, money started to materialize, and Mad Camp became closer to reality. And we got back in touch with some hope.
So what is Mad Camp?
Mad Camp, as a work in progress, is a five-day summer camp for mad people, July 20-24, at a forested retreat center in Northern California, 2.5 hours north of San Francisco on public transit. Mad Camp 2023 will be: fun, friendship, community, healing, replenishment, sunshine, electrolytes, dancing, music, listening time, mutual aid, remembrance, art-making, more fun, swimming, hiking, hanging out, open mics, delicious food, frisbees, poetry, meditation, scavenger hunts, nap times, ecstatic dance, acupuncture, storytelling, healing offerings, starry sky gazing, jenga / board games, sun lounging, campfire hangouts, swimming pool, disco/80s happy hour, hanging out, get-to-know-each-other gatherings, optional breathwork session, optional it’s-all-groovy community spirit ceremony, optional raging against the psychiatric machine (but encouraged), and optional scheming for activism (also encouraged)… Participants at Mad Camp will be bringing the offerings, facilitating the activities, and creating the experience together.
We’re all volunteer. Nobody gets paid, and there isn’t a “program” like a conference, though this will definitely be a learning and enriching experience. The people at Mad Camp are the program. We have raised more than $4000 already—all donations going directly to scholarships to make it possible for more people to have access and join us. The retreat center—Four Springs retreat in Middletown California—offers cabins and tent camping, swimming and hiking, an artmaking workshop, a dance floor, and lots of gathering places and hangout spaces in the gorgeous forested Mayacamas mountains of Northern California, a dry Mediterranean climate with geothermal activity and ancient volcanoes and a long history of nourishing native peoples. Our biggest expenses will be covering the event rental costs and covering the food costs (all finances are transparent and we aren’t seeking any grants or government sponsorship).
Because these spaces don’t exist for us, we are making Mad Camp by and for mad people—survivors, escapees, visionaries seeking a different way—people who share our life experience of altered/extreme states and struggling to live outside psychiatric coercion. Yes, of course parents, professionals, and allies could use a summer camp as well, but for Mad Camp we’re making it just for us (we’d love to see different focused gatherings also!)
You can find out more at www.madcamp.net and also on our Frequent Questions page. We also did a small podcast interview with a couple of us talking about the Mad Camp vision, you can listen to it here.
Mad Camp won’t be perfect—we’ve already had to make difficult calls about how to put this together and structure it and form the budget and ticketing: the limited resources and realities of an oppressive capitalist society make it impossible to create our ideal totally inclusive microcosm of real alternative space. But we are trying as best we can—and none of us has organized a summer camp before! It’s hard!
And one more thing. Mad Camp will have a special place of remembrance, a time and gathering spot where we will bring photos and cards and names of the people we know who have passed, to remember with our silence and our hearts and prayers the survivors who are no longer with us. Like Jay Mahler. Because we want Mad Camp to make our ancestors in the survivor movement proud, to honor history in the best way possible—by looking forward to the future. Together.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
I think it’s a great idea! And I agree with your predecessors, it is real life human interaction and cooperation, that will help save humanity from the systemic, scientific fraud based crimes, of the psychiatric and psychological industries.
I hope I can make it, but if I can’t, I would like to donate. Can MiA set up a fund to be donated to you, as a 5O1c?
What about conscious survivors who don’t identify as “mad” but are pissed off as hell with this system, and with “survivors” who call themselves “mad”?
I am not “proud” that my soul has been turned inside out by this system. I am outraged and motivated to overthrow that system.
Mad is a “woke” euphemism for “mentally ill.” We need to dispense with both concepts.
Judi Chamberlin used to wear a shirt that said “Women aren’t mad they’re ANGRY.” It’s something we should take to heart all these years later.
Removed for moderation.
Additionally the original movement (also known as the movement) used terms like “madness” as a form of ironic humor — NOT as a literal identity.
I would say check out the Madness Network News archives online, but unfortunately they have been appropriated by a group of opportunists who had and have NOTHING to do with the anti-psych movement, past or present.
COMMENTING AS MODERATOR:
To yinyang: I have revised this comment slightly so it will pass our Posting Guidelines. I was unable to send you an email to discuss it, not sure exactly why, . If you want to be informed of or have feedback into moderation decisions, I’ll need a functioning email address from you. Thanks!
Yes I changed it — how do I submit my new email?
I am aware of what you changed and why. Just “speaking my truth.” 🙂
Thanks for that. I still see the old email under your name. Maybe you can send the new one to me at [email protected]?
I couldn’t agree more. “Madness” is merely a woke internalization of “mentally ill”. Othering oneself is not a better alternative to being labeled by the system.
Thank you so much for bringing this to the point!
I, too, would never label myself or others as “Mad”. For me, it’s a condescending, disparaging word that minimizes the very real suffering survivors experience in their lives.
the irony of hating the word “mad” on a website called “mad in america!” ha ha.
that said, I hear you and we all have different language we find triggering for sure. I personally like reappropriating the word Mad…I’m also on the volunteer crew for the camp.
Madness is an intimate connection with the chaos in the world as far as I’m concerned. My experience feels like it’s only in knowing madness that I have been able to come to understand the nature of reality, which is chaos in so many ways. Nothing to be proud about (I actually DON’T like the term PRIDE connected to Mad. — so that’s where I get triggered.
I am sorry that the language excludes you and anyone who shares your feelings. Language is a tricky beast, in my opinion. It can only point to experience and people like pointing in endless different ways.
POSTING AS MODERATOR:
The use and meaning of the word “Mad” has been a constant controversy here for years. I totally understand the conflict from both sides. I hope we can all accept and understand that others’ use of the word is for their intended meaning, even if it means something else to us as individuals. I find “all or nothing” statements about this unproductive, and hope we can own our own beliefs and meanings without having to accuse everyone who doesn’t agree with us of some sort of misbehavior. As the prior poster says, “language is a tricky beast,” and I think we are best served by discussing how we find the word “mad” affects us or how we might seeing it affect others without the assumption that everyone has to see it the same way.
Hope that makes sense. I don’t think we’re going to come up with a black and white answer to this nuanced question!
P.S. I just came across this from Laura O posting earlier on this same thread. I hope she doesn’t mind my using it as a model. It is a perfect example of how to critique the use of this word without attacking others who see it differently:
“I, too, would never label myself or others as “Mad”. For me, it’s a condescending, disparaging word that minimizes the very real suffering survivors experience in their lives.”
Nobody attacked anyone else, Steve. Expressing an opinion is not an attack. I would think you of all people would know the difference.
As you accurately point out, the term has different meanings for different people, which is why it should never be used in a literal sense or as an “identity.”
As I mentioned, “Madness Network News” “mad” was used ironically, and was used by survivors; “Mad In America” is not as survivor or AP publications, and as such never really got the joke.
I agree Laura O bit the nail on the head very articulately.
Dear Will, thank you for your commitment! When I learned about your survey on withdrawing from antipsychotics four years ago, I was thrilled and hopeful. I think we all have no choice but to live the life we think is right for ourselves and trust the world we live in. Let’s keep at it together and not give up on our goals and dreams. I wish you fruitful and joyful moments at Mad Camp!
Maybe it will help take people’s minds off the annoying reality that nothing will change without struggling against and defeating the power behind psychiatry, i.e. raging capitalism. So far hugs have had little effect.
This is such a great start. Simply being human with flaws, people can feel human again and accepted again.
I gave up fighting psychiatry, they have billions of dollars to squish people like me. Do an end run..
You gave up — that’s the gist. The result the system wants. There is no “end run” — psychiatry will be our enemy till after the revolution has been won.
Aside from the absurd notion that the issue is “psychiatry vs. love,” and the solution is to ship ourselves somewhere to be with our own kind, consider the obvious elitism in the notion that those most negatively affected by psychiatry — prisoners, working class women, school children, and in general the most disenfranchised in society — would have the wherewithal to travel such a distance. And for what? A bunch of feelgood platitudes and a misplaced notion of “special”-ness?
I shudder to see what statements come out of this proposed event.
Hey I’d like to understand more where you are coming from, and social media isn’t usually illuminating and I don’t want to make assumptions or misunderstand. Feel free to give me a call anytime 413 210 2803 – Will
I’ll pass, as I am not currently active, for one, and also because this is not a personal issue to be worked out between two people — the inherent contradictions of survivors using the term “mad” (as can be seen in the way the issue resonates with many here) need to be explored and discussed as widely and publicly as possible, and I think this thread is a good example.
I would never oppose people getting together to have a good time and support one another. However there are objective conditions inherent to the capitalist system which will continue to traumatize people and make them crazy until they are eliminated. To romanticize people’s response to this as “madness” ignores the context. And this is the problem as I see it.
I wish you luck in terms of the intended purpose. I just don’t want this being misunderstood as a solution on a mass level, and I don’t want to see people identifying as “mad” and feeling good about it, because they are in essence demeaning themselves.
Fabulous innovational camp idea, Will Hall and friends.
Intresting how there feels to be TWO realities. The reality that is a muddy, leafy, people thronged gathering, that camp, and in direct opposition, the reality that is the AI high tech social media frenzy, that camp, and how the TWO realities are coming to despise each other in the greater world. You cannot so much put a real blossom into a real rifle as a real protest from the muddy camp without the AI high tech social media frenzy camp damning that action as worthless. When one reality calls another reality valueless the whole of reality is skewed.
The division between the populations of both of these realities or camps is a keenly felt pain or wound. There seems no way to reconcile them, those dug in behind the curtain walls of social media and those yearning to do artful play with just the mud and blossoms. It is a new kind of war.
How telling that your passion drives you to build a beautiful welcoming camp because of the isolating factors of social media, yet so many in the greater world these days have been spearheading such an idea of a lively healing camp only to find that a number within the social media reserve such an idea with utter contempt.
I do understand the jaundiced view of some who wonder at the point of a celebratory camp. Maybe enjoyment is an effort too burdensome to the broken. They may want to skip the camps and whimsical protests and get straight down to revolution, or war. People grow weary of sweetners. But bonding as a people provides energy for everything else, the healing, the creative solutions, and revolutions. There is a difference between bonding in real life and feeling a real embrace, than merely living for vacuous online subscribing. But many have been hurt and damaged by “people” in real life and perhaps are right to want to avoid them, yet may also be feeling fed up at being excluded by the field trampling in-crowd. Social media provides a way to partake in people-ish discussions without the inherent risk of all manner of stigma.
I wish you well for your grande camp. It sounds delightful. Bring back Woodstock I say.
I bid a fond adieu.
I can’t travel and haven’t been able to in 2 decades. I also cannot afford to go even if I could travel. I’m still on the volunteer commitee for this event. My career was spent on the streets with those without homes before I quit because the system was involved in killing the folks I was interested in supporting. The “most disenfranchised” people are why I am still alive – they are who motivate me to keep going…I am ostracized by my family and don’t have the funds for the medical care I need. I am aware that I remain privileged in this ravaged state I exist in. Yinyang, you’re making disturbing and absurd assumptions about people you clearly do not know. I hope you talk to Will. I’ve had enough. It hurts to hear people make division where it’s simply not necessary to make it.
I am aware of and admire your work first of all, so I want to put that out there up front.
But this is not about personalities, and I do not speak of anyone personally here or suggest that the author or anyone involved is not well motivated.
The issue is people identifying as “mad,” which I see as not only self-effacing, but also as validating the idea of “mental illness” as a real thing, albeit mislabeled. But changing the label does not change the fact of people being “othered” based on their reaction to a system designed to sacrifice our humanity to the demands of profit and exploitation.
As for division, comments on this thread clearly demonstrate that the divisions are already there, and need to be examined rather than denied. I did not create them. But I notice that people with a more feelgood approach to things tend to see those with a more analytical political approach as creating the divide simply by articulating it.
“We have excepted the ideology that governance is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry.” Chris Hedges
I would like to know more about any religious affiliations involved in this camp . I love the idea of generating community and in person events , but as a survivor of both severe trauma and religious oppression I would want to know more about these components. As a trauma survivor I also don’t like being removed from safe settings that would facilitate my agency in terms of transportation, emergencies, or other means to remove myself and seek safety if necessary. Additionally, I looked at the venue and it appears there is indeed a religious element related to the venue itself. I don’t feel like I have enough information to feel safe traveling to a remote location that has these undertones. I would however love to meet other survivors (mad or otherwise) in person and welcome opportunities to do so . I just think a lot of the complexities of trauma should be considered as well as very transparent marketing that includes a detailed agenda, and information that inspires safety for survivors that have been through so much at the hands of psychiatry and in the name of therapy. Thank you
I myself like the word “mad”. I see it as a celebratory counterpoint to the oppressive imposition of “sane convention”, amongst other things. To me “madness” is akin to the word “play” and I find the revolutionary impudence and visionary appeal of “play” to be the most powerful and healing thing a person can do in a realm of restriction. That said, I am able to hold contradictory views within and so I also admire those who say the use of the word “mad” is “othering”. I feel that “any” word can have such contradictory meanings depending upon the utterer of said word. The word “gay” seems similar in this regard. It can be both celebratory and othering. Words will always be flexible and fluid depending upon the user of the words. Todays complimentary words will be tomorrows slurs. And yesterdays insulting words will be lofted with triumph on banners by those who choose to celebrate condemned aspects of human freedom. We know this. But our instinct to “control” each others murmers and language is a fear filled impulse to “control” each others very thinking, so that our thinking all becomes matched and non threatening. Difference will always be deemed threatening. And yet without embracing each others differences there can be no Oneness or wholeness in the community. How to overcome feeling threatened by differences is a task. Since feeling threatened permits the venting of anger many do not want to stop feeling threatened. Anger is too narcotically exciting and healing in its own way. And so we have these two simmering aims in a community, the aim to stay angry at all costs and the aim to play at all costs. Both anger and play are needed in equal measure in any revolution. But the angry silence the playful and the playful offend the angry.
I digress. For me the word “mad” is a joyous encapsulation of liberation from societal constraint. In other cultures around the word being “mad” is being in touch with the holy and divine. Old Testament prophets were always regarded as mad by their villages. Being crazy was why God chose you. The mad have an openness to spiritual inspiration. You could not be a prophet without being held in complete disdain by the pitchfork mob. People have a terse need to control language as if language is sacred. I say language is a poor substitute for the better bonding and understanding found in just “being present” in an animal way with other people. That “being present” is something that the internet cannot bestow.
ps…I write drivel to cavort with the silliness of language.
“I myself like the word “mad”. I see it as a celebratory counterpoint to the oppressive imposition of “sane convention”, amongst other things. To me “madness” is akin to the word “play” and I find the revolutionary impudence and visionary appeal of “play” to be the most powerful and healing thing a person can do in a realm of restriction. That said, I am able to hold contradictory views within and so I also admire those who say the use of the word “mad” is “othering”. I feel that “any” word can have such contradictory meanings depending upon the utterer of said word. The word “gay” seems similar in this regard. It can be both celebratory and othering. Words will always be flexible and fluid depending upon the user of the words.”
You’ve clarified it.
“I am able to hold contradictory views”
It’s an important skill. And ironic that the word mad is a container of contradictory views, and was always intended to be!
Thank you Rasselas.Redux.
I appreciate this.
Sort of…you validate my earlier point that since the term has so many meanings to so many people it should not be adopted as an “identity” since this would clearly create confusion. (Actually “gay” is a much more cut & dried term.)
We have seen how terms like “peer” have been appropriated by the system to replicate the same basic setup as before, but with people who have been exploited by psychiatry performing the role of “mental health worker.” It is the same sort of situation with the word “mad.”
As I think I’ve said before, we’ve kind of aired this out pretty thoroughly. There are people who want to “reclaim” the word “mad” from the psychiatric profession, and those who consider it unredeemably contaminated. I think everyone is entitled to their own view on that point. “Peer” is a different issue to me, as I believe it’s fair to say the term was invented BY the psychiatric profession for the purpose of “defanging” the antipsychiatry movement, and has some associations that are hard to shake. But the term “mad” (like the word “crazy”) has a long and varied history of use over centuries. In fact, I have seldom if ever heard psychiatrists or psychologists using the term “mad” at all. They usually eschew it for terms like “mentally ill” or “mentally disordered” or even “consumers.”
But in any case, I think “mad” is going to remain an interesting and ambiguous term, and I can’t see these ambiguities being resolved in the MIA comments section any time soon!
The word “human” conveys a similar variety of “meanings” depending on the utterer of it. It can “mean” exhalted as a species with super consciousness, or it can be a disparaging “ugh!” term for everything going wrong in the world. Should we all cease to use the word “human” merely because we do not all agree on one meaning from it? You seem to want “an agreement” around “identity”. Why?
Everyone has their own unique identity. Agreeing upon a mass “identity” erases individual identity almost as cleanly as you might say psychiatry does.
Perhaps you feel you have found your “identity” in a mass or grouping and worry that if that becomes subject to wishy washy non specific variable “language” it will lead to wishy washy non specific variable “thinking”. I do not know you but is it possible that perhaps you are searching for a “feeling” of “fairness” within the nitty gritty of inky language? We all tend to seize upon “language” as threatening of our carefully clutched “identities” and we turn to logical unfeeling “language” and demand that it provide us with a “feeling”, a “feeling” of comfort, reassurance, security, that we are not being “got at”, we keep a close scrutiny on what is going on with that “feeling” of “fairness”. Such scrutiny seems to loom large as the “only” way to bolster our sense of solid “identity”, this monitoring of everyone’s sporadic turns of phrase or word choices or thought choices. But this “language monitoring”, that we all tend to do these days or this hyper vigilance over random people’s word choices, clips the wings of “other people’s” freedom to just be uniquely who they are. That clip clip clipping shears their “identity”. People then clip clip back. Until each person’s miserably threatened “identity” is at loggerheads. Out the window goes any “feeling” of “fairness” in the world when that hour is upon us all.
As I implied in another comment elsewhere (click on my name to find it) a person cannot really hope to squeeze a “feeling” like fairness from out of a dead dictionary. In these Times humans are looking to “language” and “thinking” to provide them with nourishing “emotions”. Language is marvellous, as is intellectual thinking, but both are “limited” in that these cannot hold us or embrace us or heal us in any deep core way. Modern humans are learning the hard way that intense arguing and arguing and arguing, all bickering over words and words and words is not where the love is.
A person may want “identity” but more, much more than this, a person may be longing for love. Love does not care what “identity” we have. If it is real love.
Ps…In the line where I say…
I am NOT referring to any one specific person but a collective generalized use of the word “you”. A metaphorical “you” whom “I do not know you”. I am addressing a random unknown “anyone” and “everyone” reading. A Dear Reader generalization.
When has anything ever been “resolved” at MIA? That’s the point of discussion, to air different perspectives, right?
What does that notion of “reclaiming” even mean anyway? In this case, as you say, “mad” is not used by the psychiatric system, so whom is it being “reclaimed” from? As Kindred Spirit and myself have both pointed out, “mad” is a substitute for “mentally ill” — but both are oppressive for the same reasons essentially.
I would surely prefer to be called crazy or mad than “mentally ill,” it’s more honest, without pretensions to science or objectivity. But both are about othering — whether self-othering or by others.
Again, the ambiguity is exactly why the term should NOT be claimed by its adherents as a blanket term to represent victims of psychiatry, many of whom chafe at the use of the term in their names.
My point is that “mad” and “crazy” have both been used historically as more or less synonymous. There is nothing about “mad” that implies “mentally ill” in the modern sense. In fact, it is also synonymous for kind of wildly creative and spontaneous. There is also the usage of “mad skills,” meaning incredibly fantastic. And of course, “mad” also has the meaning of “angry,” which makes the choice of the word “mad” kind of interesting for a website like “Mad in America” – it can reflect any of the above meanings, including having difficulty with the weird expectations of modern society AND pissed off that we are expected to “be OK” with all that AND angry at the “system” for driving us all “mad!”
So I think it’s a very rich word with a lot of nuances, very, very different from the extremely specific word, “Mentally ill,” which was created for the very purpose of “othering” folks by the “professionals” or “experts” claiming they have some authority to determine who is or is not “normal.”
Anyway, that’s my take on it. And I’m not making comments as moderator here, just me as a person expressing my views on the point. I see no reason not to have “Mad Camp” as long as the more empowered uses of the term “mad” are intended and understood. The problem to me is not the word, it’s the intention behind the word, and I don’t see “mad” as necessarily having the the intent to disempower or other a person, especially if that person chooses to identify with “madness” as a means of empowering him/herself.
There is nothing about “mad” that implies “mentally ill” in the modern sense.
“Mental illness” was initially considered (or promoted) as a scientific, humane term for what was previously called “madness.” They are interchangeable in terms of their offensiveness in that sense.
On your other point, if someone takes an offensive term like “bitch” and morphs it into the positive term “bitchin,” the original implications of the term remain; the same with “mad skills,” etc.
But all this ambiguity reinforces my main point about broad brushing survivors’ self-identification with the term “mad.” I never said no one should ever use it for any reason.
I am not sure exactly how I feel about the concept of the camp. But I would go myself except that I am very sick. I am not sure how this gathering will work out either, but I hope it does, and I wish the best of luck to the people who are organizing it. The idea of people in our movement getting together and being nice to one another — how can it be bad? The more I think about it the better I like it.
Well said Ted! Thanks!
It looks good to me and I’m unashamedly envious of anyone who makes it there. I mean, just the location, that alone would be sufficient to bring some very good feelings into the bodyspace, and the mindspace, and the spooky liminal WTF space/nonspace between.
The verve about stars, those that know will know a bivvy bag fitted with a bugnet stitched into the head space. A great night’s sleep under the stars and finding North with Orion.
There’s a video online, the ride of his life, that has a man cycling furiously down a trail with a brown bear running the prey down. The man must not be deterred by the exposed roots, the excruciating need for God, or what was once called his physical limits. It’s the ride of his life and finally the bear desists in defeat. The man woops and almost sobs and if he’d made one mistake, it was over.
It doesn’t seem right to me that it can be one mistake, and it’s over. But, it is. And, isn’t. It is what it isn’t and it isn’t what it is.
I’d be seeking out sceptic spiritualists. These are my go-to go-getters, my high five guys. They are everywhere, if you only have the motivation to look. Yet they are small in number, and. They have low cortisol, also consequently lower cortisol in others, also increase cortisol in others.
I have mixed feelings about cortisol, as does cortisol.
Human chemicals are the language of the body, and beings interconnect. This is especially true in confined spaces that are hot and sweaty, like saunas, lavapools, and. Some psychopaths can smell victims, they can sense them coming along. Or being there. Interestingly, psychopaths can also be sniffed, sniffed out, they are awash with and waft out dark intent. I’ve been led to believe.
Places also, have a quality. Not drone-shot videos of places. I mean being within the confines of your personal limitations. Places remind you of fluidity, as you pass through them, with your changing limitations. Moving slowly through places, it’s the last book on the shelf.
Cognitively, this has been thought before. My version also has assistant dogs, rifle practice ranges, some kind of non-negotiable Moses-style challenge, Rooibos Tea option, vegan option, ancient grain option, We’d have Option, of the Optionites. We’d have the opinionaters too and the opinion haters, on the open and closed mic.
There would have to be democratic decision about how and why the mic is going to open and close,.
I’ve been to retreats and it’s true, it’s possible to retreat. You can gander off a bit, do a meander, stroll on, GPS on, follow trails and press a button and breadcrumb back. You can pretend or convince yourself for 15 minutes that you’re lost. And then, these moments keep happening, these places. You don’t even have to plan for it, it happens. A place manifests and there’s awe in you. An intense chemical transference.
Interesting too that people have picked up on the ‘mad’ in mad camp but not the ‘camp’ in mad camp, camp also carries multiple connotations, some of which could be disturbing, and so we do wonder why ‘they” must always name ‘our place’.
A stationary tipi with a log-fired heating and cooking system and a carbon monoxide detector, in multicam camo. No mention of PM2.5
Those seeking to go, some should consider cycling there, if it’s within 300 miles for most people. Or walk, if preferred.
In awe here of your breathtaking writing. The awer possibly eschews the awed as the awed are a distraction but I give my awe at your pure poetry.
Leila and Majnun is an Arabic tale where Majnun, so devoted to Leila and yet so rejected by her, went mad and rambled and muttered madly throughout all the nomadic tents and dunes and markets and villages. Burning up with unrequited love his madness confered on him divine utterances. So that all the peoples of that land came to revere him and bear him aloft on ricketty stretchers and tendely offer him sips of moonlit goat milk. I seem to recall no matter how raving and befevered he grew Leila still eluded him as if she was a lost vital part of his own soul. Without her he relished the peace of becoming pitiful dust. He longed to be clasped to God’s bosom if he could not have his living heart, Leila.
It is possibly a tale about the self’s inner yearning for the soul, or the yang aspect yearning for yin, or the mortal yearning for the Creator. But I have always loved the river of madness that issues from Majnun’s starving, sun crusted lips. That godforsaken madness can be close to Godliness.
Thanks for the Leila and Majnun sharing, and the non-alienating kindness. In gaming they’d call your pleasantry an enhancement pack. Or energy level upgrade. This man lives close to me basks every evening in the screen vistas, his face shape-shifting as I peep in now and then near the end of a long walk, my dog unimpressed, me muttering conclusions to forgotten insights. He never looks away from the screen.
One idea I have is to do away with bodies and just connect the brain and optical cortex to wild mammals, birds, seal lions, crabs. You can then set them tasks and award points and bonus packs. Gamifying nature. And altering the laws to avoid eco-collapse. Imagine huge shoals of fish strategising against the trawlers. Slaughter house pigs embarking on organised riots. Zoo prisoners conducting a dirty protest, catapulting their faeces onto the lens’ of the horrified point-and-click ticket holders.
This is why I am not welcome at Mad Camp 2023. I say things that make people want to write an angry poem or say something nasty about niacin or Friedrich Nietzsche, the original Woke progressivist.
Just for the record, I’m a vegan. There is absolutely no way I’d drink the milk of an animal, unless in a survival situation and even then probably only if I need the energy to flee marauding neofascists.
I really enjoy reading your stuff.
The system needs to keep everyone in line…..stay between the white lines or you will end up in jail or worse yet in a psych ward.
There is no room for critical thinkers, artists, musicians, rebels..it is all about control and profit. Put the dissidents on haldol and tamp um down.
Just remember the immortal words of Oprah, Hillary, Peterson…you can be anything you want, just work hard and ( PLAY BY THE RULES ) their rules.