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Tactical authenticity in the production of mad narratives

WRIGHT, COLIN; CLARKE, SIMON

Authors

COLIN WRIGHT

SIMON CLARKE

Abstract

First-person accounts of madness and of encountering psychiatric services provide important sociocultural and psychological knowledge about the subjectivity of distress. The importance of such accounts is often based upon a claim of the authenticity of personal experience. However, authenticity is a highly heterogeneous concept: a popular current manifestation of the discourse of authenticity is in positive psychology, where it is often underpinned by humanist assumptions such as the rational autonomous self. The post-structuralist critique of humanism challenged such essentialist notions some time ago. The purpose of this article is to argue that this tension - between the value of narrative methods as a legitimate source of knowledge regarding the subjective experience of madness on the one hand, and the problems with an essentialist conception of the ‘authentic’ self on the other - can be addressed by the deployment of a reconceptualised form of authenticity based on Gayatri Spivak’s (1988) notion of ‘strategic essentialism’, especially when modified by Michel De Certeau’s (1984) distinction between ‘tactics’ and ‘strategies’.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 13, 2019
Print ISSN 1477-8211
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 15
Institution Citation WRIGHT, C., & CLARKE, S. (2019). Tactical authenticity in the production of mad narratives. Social Theory and Health, 17(2), 15. doi:10.1057/s41285-019-00092-2
DOI https://doi.org/10.1057/s41285-019-00092-2
Keywords Authenticity. Madness. Autoethnography. Narratives. Positive Psychology
Publisher URL https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41285-019-00092-2