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Conferences & lectures

Stories of Madness: Exploring Resistance, Conformity, Resiliency, Agency, and Disengagement in Mental Health Narratives


Date & time
Friday, March 27, 2020
3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Matthew Johnston




Henry F. Hall Building
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Room 1120

Wheelchair accessible



The Department of Sociology and Anthropology's Winter Speaker Seriers presents Matthew Johnston, Concordia University.

This talk will seriously interrogate the ways in which those who experience serious mental illness resist some of the control mechanisms, relationships of power, and infantilizing rituals found within the Canadian mental health system, and survive abject circumstances. I draw on my own autoethnographic experiences with psychosis and psychiatric hospitalization, as well as narrative interviews with mental health service users, to argue that we are agential in ways that are commonly overlooked in biomedical discourses. I identify some of the porous boundaries between the livable and unlivable forms of madness, and explore the complex relationships between service users and their caregivers whose penultimate goal is to help us live a manageable life.

Matthew S. Johnston is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He has published a number of journal articles on the topics of gender, security, and mental health, most notably in Disability & Society, Qualitative Research, Men and Masculinities, Crime Media Culture, Gender, Work & Organization, Social Movement Studies, and Punishment & Society. In addition to his work on private security, social institutions, hegemonic masculinity, and transgender students, Matthew is interested in exploring how persons labelled as mentally ill navigate their involvement with the psychiatric apparatus.‚Äč

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