Power and Institutions in Fiction
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This chapter explores how madness fictions present issues of power and individual autonomy by focusing their narratives in and around psychiatric institutions such as the asylum or the day-care facility. Drawing upon historical fictions we can begin to build up a picture of how madness historically has been constructed, structured, and restructured, and demonstrate how this process is related to powerful agencies and structures. In particular we look at Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture (2008), Human Traces (2005) by Sebastian Faulks, T. C. Boyle’s Riven Rock (1998), and Pat Barker’s Regeneration (1991). We then move from the historical construction of the incarceration of people in asylums, drawing on Goffman’s Asylums (1961), towards examining fictional representations of asylum care, the closure of asylums, and the move towards alternatives to incarceration as presented in fiction. Goffman’s work informs our readings of the manifestation of power — and abuse of power — within psychiatric institutions and community care through the fiction of writers such as Ken Kesey (1962), Paul Sayer (1988), Bebe Moore Campbell (2005), Marge Piercy (1976), and Clare Allan (2006). Fiction can highlight the sometimes oppositional and often marginalised discourses of sufferers themselves, particularly via the representation of the abuse of patients by those with power in the psychiatric systems.
KeywordsMental Health System Electro Convulsive Therapy Bipolar Affective Disorder Total Institution Sexual Guilt
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