The Spiritual Gift of Madness

In a couple weeks I’m speaking on a panel called:

New Mad Pride Movement: “Schizophrenics” and “Bipolars” as the New Spiritual Vanguard?

at the Left Forum with Seth Farber who wrote the book The Spiritual Gift of Madness: The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York

On Sat 10:00am – 11:50am in Room 1.67

Abstract: Dr Seth Farber’s neo-Laingian perspective will be critiqued by Sascha Dubrul, the co- founder of The Icarus Project(TIP) (2004) and graduate student at CUNY.Lauren Tenney, Ph.D. a survivor and scholar will present her own view.

The first volley in the battle against Psychiatry was fired by Libertarian Thomas Szasz in his book The Myth of Mental Illness, 1960. He was soon joined by leftist psychiatrist R D Laing whose 1967 book The Politics of Experience was a precursor of Mad Pride. Laing criticized the competitive ethos, the violence, and the secularism of society. Schizophrenics were spiritual pioneers suppressed by Psychiatry. Both claimed that psychiatric categories, including “mental illness” itself, were not objective medical diagnoses but disguised moral judgments that reflected the dominant values of society. In the early 1970s a popular movement inspired primarily by the work of Szasz sprang up all over the country–the mental patients’ liberation movement–later called the psychiatric survivors’movement. In 2004 Dubrul and Jacks McNamara founded The Icarus Project, the first Mad Pride organization in the US. Dubrul and McNamara argued madness had an untapped spiritual potential that could be used to transform” an oppressive and damaged world”. By 2012 Dubrul and most of Mad Pride abandoned their aspiration to be a vanguard of social change and placed their emphasis on collective self-healing alternatives. Farber argues for a more radical Mad movement.

Seth Farber, Lauren Tenney, Sascha DuBrul — Icarus Project NYC

Left Forum is the largest annual conference of the broad Left in the United States. Each spring thousands of conference participants come together to discuss pressing local, national and global issues; to better understand commonalities and differences, and alternatives to current predicaments; or to share ideas to help build social movements to transform the world.

This year’s theme of Left Forum is
No Justice, No Peace: Confronting the Crises of Capitalism and Democracy”
This year even features 1,600 Speakers and 420 Panels, Workshops and events

Here’s an audio recording of the entire talk:



Here’s something I wrote about Seth’s book:

Mad Pride and Spiritual Community: Thoughts on The Spiritual Gift of Madness







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