Madness is proliferating, and it is capitalism that makes us mad.
We live in an age where anxiety, depression and eating disorders have reached epidemic levels. Since the crisis of 2008 suicide rates have increased dramatically while mental health services have been savagely cut. Work becomes increasingly demanding at the same time as it has become increasingly precarious. We are all exposed to a 24/7 bombardment of stimulation and instant communication that captures and burns our nervous systems. Capitalism has even placed the survival of our species into question by producing climate change. More and more of us are “managed” on psychoactive medications and psychological therapies that patch us up so we can get back to work. People called psychotic face higher mortality rates, the threat of death by restraint, and social exclusion. While psychiatry and psychotherapy can be necessary to our psychic survival, they also operate as forms of social control and as the management of capitalism’s psychological casualties.
What is the Madness Solidarity network?
The Madness Solidarity Network is a revolutionary organisation that seeks the overcoming of capitalism and psy-professions. We demand the overcoming of capitalism because it systematically exploits us, makes our lives increasingly precarious, oppresses us as workers, and destroys the foundations of life on Earth. We are against psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy because they act as systems of exploitation, pathologisation, and control of those of us who suffer the psychic wounds inflicted by capitalism and the society of control. The Madness Solidarity network aims at the development of analysis of alienation understood as psychopathology, as madness, and the role of the psy-disciplines in producing, managing, and sustaining both that alienation, and the experience of capitalist realism. Mental illness is the experience of alienation. As such the MSN seeks to develop a critique of psychiatry and of capitalist society as a whole by developing an analysis of the conditions of this alienation in our everyday lives.
Our aim is to create a safe space in which we can share our experiences and the meanings of mental suffering. One of the psy-professions first roles is to depoliticise mental distress by making it a question of individual brain chemistry, genetics, life history. They thus transform suffering into a question of abnormal individuals and personal failure. So much that gets called stigma is reinforced by self-blame and the invalidation of our experiences. By sharing our wounds we engage not just in a therapeutic processes but also in a political one by overcoming the atomisation and pathologisation of our social being. This group will be a place to explore experience so that we can connect it to the development of a wider structural critique of class society, and in the act of developing mad solidarity with each other. We will be able to explore what it mean to be mad inside capitalism, and what would need to be done to produce a truly therapeutic world, without relying exclusively on theorists and psychiatrists to speak on our behalf.
We will also seek to undo so much of the noxious effects of activist cognitive conditioning in order to act out of empathy with each other’s lived experience, rather than relate to each other as a series of embodied theoretical positions. As such we envisage the Madness Solidarity Network as offering the opportunity to decolonise ourselves not just of psychiatric ways of thinking, but also the theoretical orthodoxies that have also shaped our desires and minds. The Madness Solidarity Network is thus also a group for experimental forms of consciousness and autonomous forms of subjectivity. We respect no pre-existing models and rely on answer or analysis in advance but seek to find among them whatever is useful to us and to bring them together into new languages, social forms, and critical practices.
We aim to develop this consciousness-raising activity into a laboratory for other forms of practice. We will reflect on theoretical writing, but we also hope to become a place for the incubation and production of aesthetic enjoyment, direct action and alternative ways of providing psychological mutual aid. This may involve the production of zines, articles, poetic texts, visual art or music, establishing or engaging with protest campaigns, other kinds of direct action, and as yet unforeseen actions. The group would respect the abilities of all members in these and other pursuits we might collectively decide to take on.
What the Madness Solidarity network is not
The Madness Solidarity network is not concieved as attempting to negate psychiatry and psychology but as part of a movement for the transformation of these practices into authentically therapeutic ones. The Madness Solidarity network is not interested in pill-shaming or in denying anyone’s experiences but in critically unravelling them together. While our work together will hopefully be therapeutic, the network is not intended to replace existing forms of therapy that people are engaged in.
Who can take part?
The Madness Solidarity network is open to anyone with experience of madness interested in developing a critique of how psychiatry intersects with class, racism, misogyny and transphobia. It is open to those currently receiving treatment, ex-patients, survivors, carers and dissident mental health workers.
In the MSN everyone speaks on their own behalf. The group will be organised in terms of the respect for the dignity of each member and in accordance with the principle of autonomy, consent, and direct democracy. There are no leaders, no party-line and no bureaucracy.