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Why "Mad" and "Crip"? 

What do these words mean to us? See below for some of our thoughts. 

Image by Faith Enck
Image by Mariana Vusiatytska


The term “mad” is used by us at the Press as both an adjective and a noun. It names and describes people who have been oppressed because of their lived experience of mental, emotional and spiritual distress. Originally used as an insult to say that someone is crazy (“you are completely mad” for example), the word mad was adopted in the 1970’s by people who desired radical change in society in relation to social policy, stigma and barriers. The term “mad” is used by us at the Press “as [a] verb to identify, disrupt, and subvert the…sanism that [has] constituted…mad bodies as abnormal and less than.”*

A core belief at the Press is that people with lived experience of disabilities and/or mental illness are credible, reliable, legitimate, and valuable sources of knowledge.**


*Ryan Thorneycroft, “Crip Theory and Mad Studies: Intersections and Points of Departure,” Canadian Journal of Disability Studies 9, no. 1 (February 27, 2020): 91–121, 95.

 Peter Beresford, “The Role of Survivor Knowledge in Creating Alternatives to Psychiatry,” in Searching for a Rose Garden: Challenging Psychiatry, Fostering Mad Studies. Ed. Jasna Russo and Angela Sweeney. (United Kingdom: PCCS Books, 2016), 25–35, 29.


The word “crip” is a reclaimed slur, embraced by many people in the disabled community (but not all people with disabilities). Since the Press founder Amy often walks with a cane, and journal editor Miriam uses a motorized wheelchair, we use “crip” to identify ourselves. Critical disability scholar Alison Kafer explains, “‘Crip’ is an intentionally provocative reclaimed term of abuse, designed to make non-disabled people ‘wince’ and to shake up their pre-existing ideas about disability, bodies and minds. It stakes a claim on our radical politics.”*


*Alison Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2013), 15.

Image by Fabiola Peñalba
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