Mad Studies is Maddening Social Work

Jennifer M. Cranford,

Brenda A. LeFrançois


This article explores the role and place of mad studies within social work theory, education, and practice.  This includes a discussion of the role social workers have played in the past and continue to play in the present in relation to oppressive practices within mental health services; a role that includes serving as passive assistants to biogenetic psychiatric expertise and a turning away from the profession’s social expertise, all to the detriment of mad people.  The interconnection between racism, colonialism, imperialism and psychiatrization is then discussed as it relates to the current treatment of mad people of colour within European and white settler state contexts. This is followed by a discussion of the potential contribution of mad theory to social work education and practice. Repositioning social workers as embracing their social expertise, a call towards developing a more thorough social justice leadership in mental health is explored. Mad studies, existing at the edges of transdisciplinary theoretical and methodological understandings, offers a potential in social work for fundamentally anti-oppressive, anti-sanist and anti-racist approaches to service provision. In effect, this article engages in the maddening of social work, through the incorporation of mad studies into critical social work theory, education, and practice.

Słowa kluczowe: Mad studies, mad theory, social justice, maddening social work, epistemic justice

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