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Tactical authenticity in the production of mad narratives





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’.


WRIGHT, C., & CLARKE, S. (2019). Tactical authenticity in the production of mad narratives. Social Theory and Health, 17(2), 15.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 13, 2019
Publication Date Feb 13, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 14, 2020
Journal Social Theory & Health
Print ISSN 1477-8211
Electronic ISSN 1477-822X
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 15
Keywords Authenticity. Madness. Autoethnography. Narratives. Positive Psychology
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information First Online: 13 February 2019


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