How is madness experienced, treated, and represented? How might art think around – and beyond – psychiatric definitions of illness and wellbeing?

Madness, Art, and Society engages with artistic practices from theatre and live art to graphic fiction, charting a multiplicity of ways of thinking critically with, rather than about, non-normative psychological experience. It is organised into two parts:

  • ‘Structures: psychiatrists, institutions, treatments’, illuminates the environments, figures and primary models of psychiatric care, reconsidering their history and contemporary manifestations through case studies including David Edgar’s Mary Barnes and Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
  • ‘Experiences: realities, bodies, moods’, promblematises diagnostic categories and proposes more radically open models of thinking in relation to experiences of madness, touching upon works such as Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko and Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places, and Things.

Reading its case studies as a counter-discourse to orthodox psychiatry, Madness, Art, and Society seeks a more nuanced understanding of the plurality of madness in society, and in so doing, offers an outstanding resource for students and scholars alike.

chapter |14 pages


Beyond Illness

part |92 pages

Structures: Psychiatrists, Institutions, Treatments

chapter |28 pages

‘I am no more mad than you are; make the trial of it in any constant question’ 1

R. D. Laing and the Figure of the Psychiatrist

chapter |33 pages

‘I guess that this must be the place’ 1

Sites of Madness

chapter |29 pages

‘It was a brilliant cure but we lost the patient’ 1

Treating Madness

part |106 pages

Experiences: Realities, Bodies, Moods

chapter |30 pages

Imagining reality

Figuring Perceptual Experiences on Stage and Screen

chapter |41 pages

Something and nothing

Moods of Madness

chapter |8 pages