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8 - Theatres of Mental Health

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2021

Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

Chapter 8: This chapter analyzes the legacy and influence of the diagnostic gaze in contemporary British theatre, examining how theatre can offer a site to negotiate the complex dynamic between psychiatric institutions and the experiences of patients. Contemporary psychiatry has overseen a vast expansion in the categorization of mental illness. Mental disorders can be identified and ascribed to individual patients in an act of diagnosis that signals mental illness as a ‘performative malady’. Alongside reflecting shifts in the etiology of mental disorder (increasingly focused upon a biomedical model), the speech-act of diagnosis has implications for the legal status and care of the patient. Analyzing works such as Joe Penhall’s Some Voices and Lucy Prebble’s The Effect, this chapter suggests how theatre can offer a reimagination of diagnosis by situating and troubling the role of the psychiatric user.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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References

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