Post-madness: when to make it visible and when to leave it invisible?

Post-madness: when to make it visible and when to leave it invisible?

Ms Hannah BlytheZoom

This paper uses historical analysis to highlight the importance of understanding experiences of and attitudes towards having been mad or mentally ill. In doing so, it makes visible a heretofore overlooked subject. Britain’s first community-based psychiatric charity was founded in 1879 for people who had recovered from insanity. The After-Care Association (ACA) was for post-mad people. This paper examines the charity’s activities between 1879 and c.1920, demonstrating that contemporaries were concerned about two linked, but distinct, elements of post-madness. Firstly, the ACA’s personnel were interested in the practical issues faced by asylum-leavers, namely difficulties in securing employment. Secondly, contemporaries were concerned with the recovered mental state. While clear that their patients were ‘recovered’, the Association’s administrators were ambivalent about how far formerly-mad people should be treated like individuals who had never lost their sanity. This paper situates historical research into the ACA within the broader emerging field of health humanities enquiry into mental recovery. It reflects on the desirability of making post-madness/post-mental-illness/post-treatment visible. While individuals may wish to retain contact with services in order to alleviate the risk of relapse, former patients may also feel that imposition of the post-mentally-ill label hinders their ability to experience their regained mental wellness.

University of Cambridge, UK
Fri 12:00 - 13:30
Mental Health
Standard paper