The New Epilogue to Our Classic Reader - Navigating the Space Between Brilliance and Madness

You can order the new book here

So much has changed in the nine years since we originally published this book that we both wonder sometimes if our lives are a movie or a dream. The Icarus Project is no longer fueled by the obsessive energy of two people working at a frenzied pace and holding it all together with lithium and duct tape. These days the project is supported by a network of madfolks and allies all over the world.

 

Last Fall we celebrated our tenth anniversary with art shows, performance nights, and skillshares on both coasts. Our publications have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, and Croatian. People are using Icarus materials in college classrooms and hatching plans for Madness Studies as an academic discipline. Our posters and info sheets are handed out as materials to youth advocates  and peer specialists around the country. There are local Icarus inspired groups in places as far flung as North Dakota and India.

 

Driving Somewhere Beautiful

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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

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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.

Visionary Alternatives to the DSM

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This is a call for submissions to a zine I am compiling, which will include self-portraits and descriptions of one’s own madness/mental health issues as a DSM alternative. The idea for my zine is that labels like Bipolar I, Schizophrenia, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are dehumanizing and cannot capture how beautiful and diverse and complex madness is. I want to create a translator from DSM to mad pride- sort of like an alternative guidebook for understanding madness rather than the DSM.

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