Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

“If I Could Drive You Out of Your Mind”

Anti-Rationalism and the Celebration of Madness in 1960s Counterculture

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2015), 9, (2), 171–187.

Abstract

The article explores the glorification of madness within the 1960s counterculture. Given the movement’s appreciation for absurdity and nonconformity, it appeared natural that its members would come to applaud mental illness as the ultimate form of rebellion, embracing mad people as a group whose presence posed a collective challenge to “the Establishment.” Some counterculture members went so far as to embrace the anti-psychiatry movement, which sought to de-medicalize madness, and interpret psychotic episodes like spiritual journeys or acid trips. Literary works of the era upended the typical dichotomy of sanity and insanity by positing that it was the mad who better comprehended what was really happening in their society. However, while these works may have made some members of their audience more open toward madness as a concept, they did little to affect beneficial political change to reform conditions for those experiencing their daily reality with mental illness.

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Author details

Mettler, Meghan Warner