Psychosis Narratives Project

Are psychiatric diagnoses constructions or are they real? What does it mean to be disconnected from reality? Whose reality? Once you’ve experienced psychosis, can you ever be “normal”? The Psychosis Narratives Project explores the ways in which ideologies, imagery, metaphors, and symbolisms within psychiatric medicine help to construct the very categories of illness that are experienced and lived by psychiatric service users; how the biomedical model and technological paradigm embraced by psychiatry since the 1980’s, enhanced in light of new neuroscience technologies, open up novel ways of being; how “cure” is implicated in the institutional forms of violence that psychiatry has attempted to shed from the vestiges of its tarnished past. This is a project that brings together an innovative combination of philosophy and ethnography to critically examine the cultural disposition that sees biomedical intervention aimed toward so-called normalcy as the only possibility for those with mental distress and psychiatric disability. It then follows how this curative imperative plays out in the everyday lives of individuals accessing psychiatric services and engaging in neuroscience research for first episode psychosis (FEP), demonstrating the ways in which contemporary psychiatric practices shape individuals’ narratives, subjectivities, and ways of being in the world, with limited appreciation for its unintended consequences. 

Collaborators: Drs. Gary Remington and Juveria Zaheer 

Project Funding: University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry Norris Scholar Award