Mad Studies Offers Collective Theorizing as Method for Lived Experience Research

A new article engages with peer support workers and draws from mad studies and post-humanist theories to put forward an activist oriented method for mental health research.

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A new article engages with peer support workers and draws from mad studies and post-humanist theories to propose an activist-oriented method for mental health research.  

The authors challenge the dominance of traditional knowledge production in academia and explore the potential for support and activism in mental health care by bringing together post-qualitative inquiry (PQI) and Mad Studies.  

The authors, Aimee Sinclair, a PhD candidate, and Lyn Mahboub, a Lived Experience Academic and Educator, conducted the research at Curtin University in Australia.  

Although intended to bring justice and liberation, the authors state that “lived experience” research can continue to “psychiatrize knowledge, failing to foster deeper transformation.”  

Thus, Sinclair, Mahboub, and 15 others with experience as peer support workers turn to less traditional methodologies that acknowledge complexities and account for the wide array of factors that contribute to peer support’s value and possibilities. 

They write:  

“We consider the possibilities for thought and political action beyond humanist logics produced by making post-humanist theorizing accessible and useful to Mad projects, both within and outside academia. Simultaneously, we consider the potential of maddening PQI, thus unsettling the dominance of the (white) academy as the hegemonic source of knowledge production. To do so, we reflect on collective work undertaken with peer support workers to map affective intensities within mental health assemblages.” 

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Ally Riddle
Ally is pursuing a master's in interdisciplinary studies through New York University's XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement. She uses the relationship between anthropology, public health, and the humanities to guide her research. Her current interests lie at the intersection of literature and psychology as a method to reframe the way we think about different mental states and experiences. Ally earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in Biology, Society, & Environment.

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