The Madwoman in the Academy, or, Revealing the Invisible Straightjacket: Theorizing and Teaching Saneism and Sane Privilege

PhebeAnn Marjory Wolframe


In this paper, I suggest that one way to bring mad perspectives and discussions about saneism/mentalism--systemic discrimination against people who have been diagnosed as, or are perceived to be "mentally ill"--into higher eduction is to situate them within existing curricula across disciplines. One of the ways curricula can be modified is by adapting existing theoretical frameworks from other interdisciplinary fields to mad issues and contexts. As an example of this adaptation, I turn Peggy McIntosh's article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), a staple of undergraduate humanities curricula, into a teaching tool for showing not only the ways in which "sane" people--those who have never been psychiatrized or perceived as "mentally ill"--have access to privileges that mad people do not, but also the ways in which saneism/mentalism intersects with other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and ableism.


Keywords: saneism, mentalism, mad studies, privilege, feminism, intersectionality, pedagogy


saneism; mentalism; mad studies; privilege; feminism; intersectionality; pedagogy

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Copyright (c) 2013 PhebeAnn Marjory Wolframe

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