Note: Madness Network News rejects the use of “mental illness” or “mentally ill” as default terminology to describe mad, neurodivergent, and/or disabled psychiatric survivors. Across history, these terms have been used to justify and perpetuate harm and discrimination against mad people.
With that said, we at MNN believe in identity freedom and therefore assert that it is the right of any person to identify with terminology of their choosing and welcome these terms’ use in describing one’s own experience.
Mad: A term historically used to oppress people who experience emotional distress and non-normative or non-conventional states of being. Mad has been reclaimed as a socio-political identity for people who experience emotional distress and/or who have been labeled as “mentally ill” or as having “mental health issues.” A mad individual is a person whose identity and selfhood are contrary to convention, subverting, defying, disrupting, and liberating oneself from what is considered “sane.” To be mad is to take pride in the mental states that have been deemed criminal and deficit.
Psychiatric Survivor: A person who has lived/living experience of harm in the Mental Health Industrial Complex. To publicly identify as a psychiatric survivor is to speak out against the violence caused by psychiatry and/or other mental health providers.
Neurodivergent: is the term for when someone’s brain processes, learns, and/or behaves differently from what is considered “typical.”
Ex-Patient: Former patients of psychiatric institutions or other carceral facilities. Ex-patients are also activists that sought to build communities of healing outside of psychiatry.
Extreme States: A way of describing a person’s internal experience of having thoughts or emotions that may be considered outside of the socially acceptable range. This term is often preferred by people who wish to be divorced from psychiatry.
MMINDS: An acronym which stands for mad, labeled as “mentally ill”, neurodivergent, Disabled, Survivors. It is an umbrella term for those who identify as someone whose mind functions differently from what is considered the norm. They may or may not identify with psychiatric labels.
Neuroqueerness: A neuroqueer individual is any individual whose identity, selfhood, gender performance, and/or neurocognitive style is contrary to convention. Neuroqueering is the practice of subverting, defying, disrupting, liberating oneself from neuronormativity and cis-heteronormativity simultaneously.
Ex-Inmate: Former inmates of psychiatric institutions and other carceral facilities. An ex-inmate of a psychiatric institution rejects the ex-patient identity or that they were ever a patient because their experience in a psych institution was not treatment but rather a form of harm. Ex-inmates are also activists that sought to build communities of healing outside of psychiatry.
Neurodiversity: Neurodiversity is the idea that all brains and connected bodyminds are diverse in how they work – no two brains or nervous systems are the same.
Voice Hearer: a person who has experienced voice-hearing or the experience that is pathologized as “auditory verbal hallucinations.” When someone identifies as a voice hearer it can be a way of rejecting a psychiatric label.
Hearing Voices: The term ‘hearing voices’ refers to the experience of hearing a voice that no one else can hear.
Disability: an identity; A bodymind experience; a community.
Lived/Living Experience: A person who in this context has current and/or former experience with the mental health industrial complex.
Crip: A term used historically to stigmatize and oppress disabled people. It has been reclaimed by some people disabled people. It should only be used with permission from the community or person who is being referred to, or regarding the theories noted below. There is a discussion about whether crip refers only to the physical disability community, or other experiences as well.
Autistic: An Autistic person is a person who may or may not identify as disabled whose disability and social identity relate to how they engage with and experience the world around them. Autistic people experience and engage with the world differently on a sensory, processing, and response level from neuronormative society.
Sick: A social identity reclaimed by chronically ill and disabled people. Sick is a term reclaimed to challenge the Medical Industrial Complex’s idea of what healthy bodyminds look like.
Queer: An identity, an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender. Queer was a derogatory that was reclaimed to encapsulate the multitude of identities around gender and attraction.
Fat: A person whose body is contrary to what is deemed “desirable” or “acceptable” from diet culture. The reclamation of fat identities promotes the idea that fat bodies are a natural part of body diversity and human diversity.
Neuronormative: Neuronormativity is the collection of social, political, cultural, and personal norms that privilege a particular way of thinking and communicating as superior to others.
Neurotypical: Neurotypical is a term that’s used to describe individuals with typical neurological development or functioning.
Psychiatric Abolition: The belief that the mental health industrial complex and systemic sanism needs to be deconstructed, and replaced with a cultural shift towards community-run and created healing approaches.
Ableism: A system of assigning value to people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. This systemic oppression leads to people and society determining people’s value based on their culture, age, appearance, religion, birth or living place, “health/wellness”, and/or their ability to satisfactorily re/produce, “excel” and “behave.” You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism.
Sanism: A system of assigning value to people’s minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. This systemic oppression leads to people and society determining people’s value based on their culture, age, appearance, religion, birth or living place, “health/wellness”, and/or their ability to satisfactorily re/produce, “excel” and “behave.” It also can lead to people criminalizing and incarcerating mad, neurodivergent, and Disabled survivors.
Mad Movement: An umbrella term for the movement that encompasses the international mad pride movement, psychiatric survivor, psychiatric abolition/anti-psychiatry, hearing voices, service user, consumer/survivor/ex-patient (ex-inmate), mental health recovery, mental disability social justice movements. This movement interconnects with the disability justice and neurodiversity movements.
Conscious-raising: A practice in the psychiatric survivor movement where survivors have space to discuss and learn about systemic sanism and the injustices of the MHIC.
Disability Justice: A framework and a movement that recognizes the intersecting legacies of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, gendered oppression, and ableism in understanding how people’s bodies and minds are labeled ‘deviant’, ‘unproductive’, ‘disposable’ and/or ‘invalid’.
Mad Liberation: A term referring to the pursuit of freedom for mad, neurodivergent, and disabled people. Mad liberation is also about freeing bodyminds from a carceral society. This term is also often used when referring to the psychiatric survivor movement.
Disability Rights: The disability rights movement is a global social movement that seeks to secure equal opportunities and equal rights for disabled people. The disability rights approach has since evolved into the disability justice framework which builds on the disability rights movement, taking a more comprehensive approach to help secure rights for disabled people by recognizing the intersectionality of disabled people who belong to additional marginalized communities.
C/S/X Movement: Stands for consumer, survivor, ex-patient (ex-inmate). It is a term to describe the movement of people with lived/living experience struggling for psychiatric liberation.
Psychiatric Survivor Movement: A term to describe the modern movement of people with lived/living experience struggling for psychiatric liberation.
Mad Pride Movement: Mad Pride is an international counter-culture movement, action, ideology, and day of recognition that celebrates the human rights and spectacular culture of people considered very different by our society. Mad Pride is the embracing of mad identities that defies normal or conventional mental and emotional states of being. Mad Pride may be celebrated anytime but is most often observed in the month of July, usually on or around July 14, Bastille Day.
Anti-Psychiatry Movement: Is the movement based on the view that psychiatry is not a legitimate field of medicine. That psychiatry is a tool of social control which enforces conformity to the prevailing social order and that “mental illness” is a semantically absurd concept which falsely conflates the abstraction known as the “mind” with the physical brain to mislead people into believing they have literal diseases. The anti-psychiatry movement believes psychiatry cannot be reformed and must be abolished.
Bodymind: A term used to challenge the idea the body and mind are experienced separately. Written in various ways, Bodymind or Body-mind, this usage foregrounds the understanding that experiences of the bodymind are integrated.
Hearing Voices Movement: A movement of people who hear voices, see visions, and have other sensory encounters who have the fundamental belief that there are many ways to understand the experience of hearing voices and other unusual or extreme experiences. The movement is an international collaboration between professionals, people with lived/living experiences, and their families to develop an alternative approach to coping with emotional distress that is empowering and useful to people and does not start from the assumption that they have an illness.
Neurodiversity Movement: The neurodiversity movement challenges us to rethink autism through the lens of human diversity, valuing diversity in neurobiological development.
A Disorder for Everyone! (AD4E): A United Kingdom-based initiative challenging the culture of psychiatric diagnosis and exploring trauma-informed alternatives and understanding of human distress. A Disorder for Everyone is also an annual festival where psychiatric survivors, mad, neurodivergent, Disabled people, and radical mental health professionals network and gather.
Decarcerating Disability: is a term and feminist study of the affinities, interrelations, and contradictions between prison abolition and psychiatric deinstitutionalization.
Drop The Disorder: is a term and the name of a book that challenges the culture of psychiatric diagnosis, counseling, psychiatry, and Big Pharma.
Mad Studies: Is a field of scholarship, theory, and activism about the lived/living experiences, history, cultures, and politics about people who may identify as mad, psychiatric survivors, neurodivergent, and/or Disabled. Mad studies investigates how experiences labeled as “mental illness” and/or “neurological deficit ” are historically and socially determined by cultural norms (i.e. Bipolar, Autism). The word “mad” is a reclaimed word borrowed from the Mad Liberation or Psychiatric Survivors movement of the late 1960s – 1970s.
Mad Student: A student who is attending or planning to attend post-secondary or adult education institutions and has past/present experiences with psychiatric/mental health systems.
Intersectionality: An analytical framework coming from Black feminist thought and attributed directly Kimberle Crenshaw. Intersectionality explains that sociopolitical systems of power and inequality “intersect,” overlap, or merge to create distinct experiences of oppression (or privilege) for people at the axes of those systems.
Inclusive Design: A method of teaching in which instructors and classmates work together to create a supportive environment that gives each student equal access to learning. Inclusive design is an approach to designing spaces, schools, and processes to center the most marginalized bodyminds and make spaces work better for everyone. It allows for flexibility and multiple ways to do tasks. Instead of planning for average-size adult men, It seeks to design from the start to avoid and reduce barriers related to disability, gender, race/racism, money, transportation, age, size, and other human differences.
Mind Freedom (Mad Freedom): The action of freeing minds from carceral conditioning. MindFreedom is also the name of an international organization run by psychiatric survivors and mad people.
Crip The Vote: a phrase referring to the idea of Disabled people being active voters and through their collective power, forcing important disability issues into the mainstream.
Medicating Normal: is a term and the name of a film speaking to the culture of mass psychiatric drugging in industrialized societies.
Access: the power, opportunity, permission, or right to come near or into contact with someone or something the relationship between the disability bodymind and the environment.
Audism: “The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.”
Supercrip: Eli Clare shared the Supercrip as named by the disability community for two different experiences of ableism:
- Disabled people are only viewed as valuable when accomplishing superhuman tasks (like climbing an impossible mountain), or
- People are praised for ordinary everyday life like getting dressed or going to shop, because people’s expectations of disabled people are so low.
(Dis)Ability: “The overarching social systems of body and mental norms that includes ability and disability”
- NOTE: This is different than the “See my ability, not my disability” message which erases disability, rather, notes that how we make sense of disability requires we also think about the norms related to ability.
Anti-ableism: Anti-ableism is the action of interrupting ableism socially, systemically, interpersonally, and introspectively.
Crip theory: Crip theory is an academic (sub)field blurring or merging of queer theory and critical disability studies. Crip theory explores how the social pressures and norms around ability intersect with the social pressures and norms around gender/sexuality.
Crip time: A concept arising from Disabled experience that addresses the ways that Disabled/chronically ill and neurodivergent people experience time (and space) differently than non-Disabled folk. Rather than bend Disabled bodies and minds to meet the clock, crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds.
Internalized Ableism: Internalized ableism occurs when a Disabled person holds the belief that their disability is something shameful that makes them feel less than.
Mental Health industrial Complex (MHIC): An umbrella term to describe all of the institutions that are contained and reinforced by psychiatry. This includes psych hospitals, therapists, psychopharmacology, group homes, school counseling programs, and more.
Sectioned: The process by which someone may be involuntarily committed into a psychiatric facility. This can be called different things based on where you are and what laws govern involuntary commitment. For example, in Florida, this may be called being “Baker Acted”
Pathologization: is labeling a person’s behavior as a problem or indication of a disease or disorder. In mental health, the term is often used to indicate over-diagnosis or the refusal to accept certain behavior as normal.
Psychiatric Incarceration: When an individual is held against their will in a psychiatric facility. This can include involuntary commitment into a psych facility, an outpatient program, a group home, or other practices such as forced drugging.
Biomedical/ Medical model: Before and between the World Wars, medicine advanced to be able to cure and prevent many common causes of early death like infections. The medical industry developed with the idea that disability and madness was being sick or broken, and needed medical cure. When cure wasn’t possible, the person was either blamed, or viewed as better off dead. This model is prevalent today in many forms.
Biomarker: a measurable substance in an organism whose presence is indicative of some phenomenon such as disease, infection, or environmental exposure.
Restraint: To restrain a person is the use of chemicals, physical force, and/or mechanical constraints is to hold a person down, suppress their mobility, and or forcefully drug them. Use of restraint is violent and strips the person of their autonomy. Restraints are an example of overt ableism and sanism toward mad, neurodivergent, disabled psychiatric survivors.
Chemical Restraint: A chemical restraint is the forced drugging of a person with the intention of sedating and controlling them. Chemical restraints have been used to restrict the freedom of movement of or ability to focus.
Physical Restraint: A physical restraint is the intentional use of physical force to hold a person down. Physical restraints are often used before chemically restraining a person.
Mechanical Restraint: A mechanical restraint is the use of tools such as nylon belts to physically suppress or stop a person’s movement. Psychiatric nurses, mental health workers, and other hospital staff can use nylon belts when initiating a four-point restraint by strapping down the wrists, ankles, and torso of a person.
Seclusion: Seclusion is the involuntary confinement of a person alone in a room or area from which the person is physically prevented from leaving.
Quiet Rooms: Quiet rooms are isolation rooms at mental hospitals. People are put into the quiet room to isolate them from everyone else.
Criminalization: Criminalization is the act of making something criminal, or making it against the law. Madness is often criminalized and people are confined to psychiatric institutions.
Booty juiced: A slang term for forced drugging via injection.
Grippy Sock Jail: A slang term for being confined to a psych facility involuntarily.
Grippy Sock Vacation: A slang term for being confined to a psych facility, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.
Spychiatry: A slang term for the culture of mass surveillance perpetrated by the mental health industrial complex.
Crip Joy: A slang term describing the joy a Disabled and/or crip person may experience in spite of a non-disabled dominant ableist world.
Sewerslide/Unaliving: A euphemism for suicide, used on social media to work around the censoring of discussions of suicide.
Sleepy maracas: A slang term referring to psych medications that cause drowsiness or sleepiness.
Be Mad Do Crime: A saying based on the original “Be Gay Do Crime.” The slogan “Be gay, do crime” is an anti-capitalistic and anti-authoritarian statement, implying that crime and incivility may be necessary to earn equal rights given the criminalization of homosexuality around the world. Be mad do crime speaks to how being a mad person is inherently criminal therefore all things you do that relate to your madness are crimes. The statement is intended to speak out against the sanist notions our society has toward non-normative states of consciousness.
Mad love: A term for the solidarity, care, and affection felt between mad people or from the mad toward others. This is a particularly powerful statement in a world that operates under the sanist notion that the mad aren’t competent enough to make “healthy” choices or are not deserving of love. Mad love defies the judgment casted on mad people and instead says “in a society that deems me loveless or unlovable, I love you or have a love for you.”
Sanestream Media: The idea that media platforms are controlled by sanist private industries which keeps concepts that challenge psychiatry and pharmaceutical industries suppressed from the public.
Crazywise (Mad Wisdom): A term for the wisdom gained from emotional distress and extreme states. Crazywise is also the name of a film that explores our society’s understanding of emotional distress.
Crip Hugs: An embrace between two disabled folks that is filled with love, empowerment, and care for each other. This gesture is especially powerful in a world that does not want crip and disabled people to exist, let alone be in a community with each other. Crip Hugs are a showing of strength, not alone, but together.
Complicated Gifts: The idea that madness and emotional distress can positively and negatively impact our lives and that both of these truths must be held.
Be Gay Do Crime: The slogan “Be gay, do crime” is an anti-capitalistic and anti-authoritarian statement, implying that crime and incivility may be necessary to earn equal rights given the criminalization of homosexuality around the world and that the Stonewall uprising was a riot.