Endless New Beginnings: Madness and Motherhood, Stories and Social Justice


There are not many people talking about what it means to be a mad parent, what those defining identities mean for them or how those roles play out in their lives. Struggling with staying well and a life wrought with experiences that can sometimes, for example, make it difficult to leave the house have the capacity to make modern parenting a huge challenge. For people who are sensitive to the amount of sleep they get or who have a hard time with loud noises and shifts in body chemistry, mad motherhood in particular can be a massive undertaking, requiring unprecedented strength and determination.

Interview w/Sins Invalid on Disability Justice Theory & Praxis


Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse. Jacks McNamara interviewed Patty Berne, Leroy Moore, Lateef McLeod, and Kiyaan from the Sins Invalid crew at Patti’s home in Berkeley on June 26, 2013.

On Access Intimacy and Mental Health


For many years I, and so many others I know, have resisted identifying as disabled for very good reasons. If you believe your distress is largely a result of family trauma and/or capitalism, racism, and other forms of structural violence, why would you identify as disabled? If you frame your distress as a form of spiritual or existential crisis, why would you use the word disabled? If you believe we all have the capacity for full recovery, or nothing was ever wrong in the first place, why would you identify as disabled?


For me, the reason is to be part of an amazing and supportive community with revolutionary politics that include an emphasis on creating communities of care. To be part of a group with a long history of organizing for liberation and human rights. Identifying as disabled also allows me to acknowledge the recurrent and sometimes severe nature of my struggles, and to seek structural changes that wouldn’t make it so hard to be in this world. Instead of trying to assimilate and “pass” as normal, it is so much more helpful for me to think about how to get support and get access needs met.

Whisper Rapture: Bonfire Madigan Shive and Ken Paul Rosenthal on Cultivating Beauty, Supporting Community, and Liberation Through Art


Folks who have been involved with the radical mental health movement for a while are likely familiar with filmmaker Ken Paul Rosenthal’s work. His film Crooked Beauty has helped to tell the story of The Icarus Project by weaving Jacks McNamara’s personal narrative with poetically visualized images of a stunning and broken world that is ever-striving to heal itself. Inspired by Bonfire Madigan Shive, one of the original catalysts of The Icarus Project, whose voice, music, and being helped to galvanize the vision of an international network of wild-hearted explorers of the space between brilliance and madness, Rosenthal  is setting the roaring intricacies of Madigan’s voice and cello compositions to the larger landscape of a boldly soaring, crashing and trembling world.

Driving Somewhere Beautiful


In 1973 the academic journal Science published an article called On Being Sane in Insane Places. It documented the findings of an experiment by psychologist David Rosenhan designed to test the validity of psychiatric diagnosis. The first part of Rosenhan’s study involved eight ‘sane’ people feigning auditory hallucinations to see if they could get committed into psychiatric institutions. What is interesting about the experiment is not the ease with which the participants successfully feigned mental illness, but the difficulty they had, once inside the system, of proving themselves sane. Although none of the participants showed any further symptoms it took up to 52 days for them to be released, and even then only then when they accepted diagnosis of irreversible lifelong conditions such as schizophrenia. So what? That’s pretty much what I thought until I got diagnosed with bipolar.

A Reflection on Mothers, Children, and Mental Illness


I woke up this morning and there it was again, I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother. This essay is all over the internet, written by a woman who is using her personal story about experiences with her “mentally ill” son, whom she is “terrified of,” to appeal for more dialogue on the issue of mental health. As I write this, her son’s picture has been viewed by over a million people. They have read her accounts of what may be some of these young man’s most painful childhood memories.


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