Stone, Brendan (2004) How Can I Speak of Madness? Narrative and Identity in Memoirs of ‘Mental Illness’. In: Narrative, Memory & Identity: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 49-57.
Abstract

In this paper I examine some of the implications, possibilities, and dangers of
addressing the experience of ‘madness’ or ‘mental illness’1 within
autobiographical narrative: in particular, I ask how madness can be narrated, or
spoken. I suggest that an attentive reading of narrative form, as the outworking
and evidence of a way of knowing and thinking about the world, may reveal
authorial attempts to manage and stretch the constraints inherent in
conventional narrative’s tendency toward linearity and resolution, a tendency
which is, arguably, inimical to the expression of madness. Insinuated in this
process of working with form is a particular narrative mode of existence which
has implications for the psychodynamics of living with mental distress. With
reference to the work of Sarah Kofman, I propose the idea that a ‘writing
without power’ may be a salutary way to address chronic distress, and to
reformulate identity in the light of biographical disruption.

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