The Spiritual Gift of Madness

The Spiritual Gift of Madness

The Failure of Psychiatry and the Rise of the Mad Pride Movement

Foreword by: Kate Millett
A bold call for the “insane” to reclaim their rightful role as prophets of spiritual and cultural transformation

• Explains how many of those diagnosed as schizophrenic, bipolar, and other forms of “madness” are not ill but experiencing a spiritual awakening

• Explores the rise of Mad Pride and the mental patients’ liberation movement

• Reveals how those seen as “mad” must embrace their spiritual gifts to help the coming global spiritual transition

Many of the great prophets of the past experienced madness--a breakdown followed by a breakthrough, spiritual death followed by rebirth. With the advent of modern psychiatry, the budding prophets of today are captured and transformed into chronic mental patients before they can flower into the visionaries and mystics they were intended to become. As we approach the tipping point between extinction and global spiritual awakening, there is a deep need for these prophets to embrace their spiritual gifts. To make this happen, we must learn to respect the sanctity of madness. We need to cultivate Mad Pride.

Exploring the rise of Mad Pride and the mental patients’ liberation movement as well as building upon psychiatrist R. D. Laing’s revolutionary theories, Seth Farber, Ph.D., explains that diagnosing people as mad has more to do with social control than therapy. Many of those labeled as schizophrenic, bipolar, and other kinds of “mad” are not ill but simply experiencing different forms of spiritual awakening: they are seeing and feeling what is wrong with society and what needs to be done to change it. Farber shares his interviews with former schizophrenics who now lead successful and inspiring lives. He shows that it is impossible for society to change as long as the mad are suppressed because they are our catalysts of social change. By reclaiming their rightful role as prophets of spiritual and cultural revitalization, the mad--by seeding new visions for our future--can help humanity overcome the spiritual crisis that endangers our survival and lead us to a higher and long-awaited stage of spiritual development.
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  • Inner Traditions | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594774485 | 
  • April 2012
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 9
The Roots of the Icarus Project


Mad Pride began in America with the foundation of the Icarus Project (TIP) in 2002 by Sascha DuBrul and Ashley McNamara. The Icarus Project was created “for people living with dangerous gifts that are commonly diagnosed and labeled as ‘mental illnesses.’” The bold mission statement of the Icarus Project declared, “We are a network of people living with and/or affected by experiences that are often diagnosed and labeled as psychiatric conditions. We believe these experiences are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining... see more

About the Author

Seth Farber

Seth Farber, Ph.D., is a psychologist, public speaker, and a founder of the Network against Coercive Psychiatry. The author of several books, including Unholy Madness, and an editor of The Journal of Mind and Behavior, he lives in New York City.

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