Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

The unexceptional schizophrenic: a post-postmodern introduction

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2008), 2, (1), 55–62.

Abstract

Postmodern theory has been indispensable to disability studies because it has challenged normativity and destabilized narratives of national progress, social order, and identity. The essay nevertheless contends that crucial texts of postmodern theory have only achieved such destabilizations by holding one identity stable: that of the schizophrenic. These texts base their understanding of schizophrenia (and, by extension, the postmodern condition) on the writing of a few, distinctly exceptional, schizophrenics. An explosion of civic writing in the mid-1990s by writers who mark themselves specifically as non-exceptional schizophrenics, however, interrogates the desire for the stable schizophrenic, easy to recognize and therefore incarcerate, or celebrate, as the occasion demands. Attention to such writing reveals schizophrenics to be an active and growing constituency arguing for their rights in the public sphere. The essay concludes that recognition of this constituency and the multitude of voices it represents could greatly inform future theoretical programs that invoke "the schizophrenic."

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Prendergast, Catherine