What is madness? Am I 'sick' or is the world 'crazy'? Do the dominant approaches to mental distress (psychiatry and pharmacology) aid or extend people's distress? What is the relationship between 'madness' and power? Between alienation and racism/sexism? Why does the society fear and discriminate against those with psychiatric diagnoses? Are there alternative discourses and ways of conceiving of what we call ‘mental illness’?


Join our monthly Sydney-based monthly Reading and Discussion Group for those interested in critical approaches to mental and emotional well-being and distress.

Critical Perspectives on ‘Madness’ Reading Group was established in April 2016. It is modeled on Mad Studies reading groups organized by Foundation Perceval in Amsterdam.

Inspired by the notion of theory as an emancipatory and reparative tool, the group convenors introduce academic, autobiographical and literary texts that challenge the dominant bio-medical, neoliberal and imperialist models of mental distress and highlight the political, cultural and institutional factors at play in maintaining the status quo.

Carefully and democratically chosen readings draw from the disciplines of social work, philosophy, (post)psychiatry, feminism(s), disability and Mad studies, queer theory, anthropology, literature, art studies and others to offer a multiplicity and diversity of perspectives.

During the group meetings the participants are invited to reflect on the texts, as well as the current Australian mental health system and their own experiences through the prism of the new knowledges.

The focus remains on learning together, learning from each other. Consumer and survivor voices are privileged.

Click here for previous and upcoming reading group topics.

This reading group aims to:

  • challenge and broaden our understandings of madness and distress through a collaborative process of learning together
  • overcome a gap in service provision for people with intellectual interests
  • re-value the skills of attentive reading, listening and respectful discussion
  • inspire attitudinal change, knowledge sharing and eradication of discrimination and stigma
  • foster a community built around shared values, experiences and politics.

Who can attend:

  • People identifying as consumers, survivors, people with lived experiences of mental distress, students, people who assist others in professional or non-professional capacities, researchers, peer workers, carers and other enthusiasts.
  • You need to be able to read academic and literary texts in English.


If you're interested in attending this group but are dealing with restrictions (dyslexia, difficulties with concentration, face to face contact, processing a discussion etc.), please contact us to see if we can find a solution.



Where and when:

The group takes place on the third Tuesday of each month, 6:30-8:30 pm.

Venue: Humanist Society, 10 Shepherd Street, Chippendale.

The venue is wheelchair accessible.


$5-15 donation OR free of charge

Click here for previous and upcoming reading group topics.