The Earth is being burned and poisoned. If the United States' police and prisons don't kill you, its decayed and cruel medical and social infrastructure just might. What is an appropriate response to the extreme unprecedented adversity and stress of the times? //
What about those who already are a wreck? It is usually said that they are experiencing a "mental health crisis," which can be met with some manner of treatment, capture, or disappearance.
Of Unsound Mind
is a resource library and writing hub for rethinking the history of madness and psychiatry in the fight for futures beyond controlling, containing, and calming distress in the face of a tumultuous world.
What must we do about distress?
What even is a "mental health crisis?"
Mental Health Behind Bars
The judge and the forensic psychiatrist get lunch together before they commit the next schizophrenic. The police officer and the social worker are on a first-name basis; both know which chemical tranquilizer acts fastest. The inmate at the security hospital is unsure whether she's in prison or the hospital. The same psychologist that assures the delinquent/mentally ill student he's the innocent victim of traumatic and unfair systems fears his outbursts and dials 911 when he screams at school.
The United States is facing a reckoning, not only with its mechanisms of policing and imprisonment, but also with its wider history of violence—the foundational core of the national and economic project in settler-colonial genocide, in anti-Blackness and slavery, and in relentless imperial expansion.
The criminal is already mad. The forces which identify and categorize these two types, watch them, and detain, manage, control, or eliminate them are often the same, and, when they aren't (i.e. when they are bifurcated into special fields like "municipal police" and "forensic psychiatrist"), they operate within the same horizon of knowledge and practice.
Policing and mental health care aren't antagonistic practices, but mutually constitutive. There is no moment where one operates without the other. A "non-policing psychiatry" wouldn't resemble any psychiatry that has existed to this day. It would have to be rethought from the ground up. A "non-psychiatric criminal law" would be missing a legal category that makes it work, namely, insanity.
The stories we have been told about the history of psychiatry are simplistic to the degree of dishonesty. Binaries of care vs. punishment or benevolence vs. retribution conceal the ways in which the logics of incarceration and security are embedded on both sides. When these binaries are opposed to one another in order to legitimate one at the expense of the other, their shared underlying logic spreads ever farther, and without real detriment to either.
Of Unsound Mind seeks to explore how psychiatric knowledge and practice is, and always has been, a constitutive element of policing, incarceration, and surveillance (and vice-versa) in capitalist societies. A project of building worlds without prisons and police must therefore include reframing not just how we think about crime, but also madness and disability in relation to capitalism.
Historical Information and Critique
In the resource library, one can find collected independent research and writing on current and historical developments in psychiatry, on laws pertaining to mental health, and on connections to the other mechanisms of managing illness and deviance along with short analyses and links to resources. Visit this page for a history of transformations, reforms, and revolutions in psychiatry.
Material and Social Responses
Distress can be disruptive, but so can hospitalization and commitment. It disrupts one's social life and sense of community to be suddenly removed and held in a secure facility; drugs can change one's behavior or manner of speaking; one can lose a job, miss a payment on their rent or car, and even get released with a hefty bill to pay. Click below to find ideas for alternatives to the typical reaction for both distress and the response it.
Writing and Art
Click below to find a gallery of the art works by mad people used throughout this site. The writing section features writing on these themes as well as reading guides and additional and more in depth resources for further study and thought.