Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. David Blakesley

Committee Member

Dr. Ufuk Ersoy

Committee Member

Dr. Gabriel Hankins

Committee Member

Dr. Victoria Skye Wingate


This dissertation examines how competing narratives related to madness and mental health can provide insight into the inconsistencies of preconceived biases that tie into privilege and power. These biases relate to identities associated with race, gender, class, and embodiment. By exploring madness narratives, we can see how madness often becomes a quality used to isolate and “other” people that act against typical societal and cultural norms. Works of fiction and nonfiction that pertain to madness narratives can either be used to perpetuate stereotypes of normalcy or as a vehicle to allow for a more open and frank discussion of madness and mental health. Madness narratives because of their complex nature often move beyond the written word to be featured through film, television, streaming platforms, and in physical representations. Each of these madness narratives, though competing, work together to bring to light issues with privileged identity and power. By exposing such inconsistencies with privileged identity, madness narratives allow people to understand that madness is not something to be feared and stigmatized. Rather, madness narratives through their exploration of mental health, privilege, and power allow people the chance to see that difference is not something to be feared, but something that should be explored.



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