Disability Studies and the Language of Mental Illness

Main Article Content

Katie Aubrecht

Keywords

Disability Studies, language, community

Abstract

Much has been written about the dangers of mental illness, both by psychiatry as an empirical reality and by anti-psychiatry as a cultural category (Szasz, 1960). This paper considers how the language of mental illness, and more specifically, the discipline of psychiatry, structures how we relate to our everyday lives. I examine how the language of mental illness, and the psychiatric practices which have made this language possible, have conditioned the development of a disability studies community, culture and identity. This examination will involve a critical analysis of writing in the field of disability studies which illustrates the complex interconnections and interdependencies between self-identifying as a disabled person and rediscovering the aspects of oneself that have been stolen or stamped out by the imposition of a language of mental illness. This paper also aims to uncover some of the implicit assumptions about the nature of the relationship between language, culture, identity, and community. 

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