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DST 500 Chapter Notes -Psy, Intersectionality, Paparazzi

Disability Studies
Course Code
DST 500
Jijian Voronka

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DST500 – Readings – Week 8
March 11, 2013
Voronka, J. (2009). “Making Bipolar Britney: Proliferating psychiatric
diagnoses through tabloid media.” Radical Psychology, Vol. 7(2)
- How popular magazines teach the public ‘proper’ ways to approach, treat,
comply, struggle, and recover from mental illness
- Her journey, and the documentation of it by the media, can tell us a lot about
how the intersectionalities of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability play
out in popular culture
- The mad movement embraces different ways of thinking and being, and
places particular emphasis on the problematic ways that psychiatry and other
psy discourses in particular, and social/medical systems in general, work to
hinder mad peoples’ social inclusion
- The failure for her to reshape her body into pre-pregnancy form in the
months following her second birth came to be understood as a problem in the
- Celebrities and Hollywood given credit for teenagers seeking help with
mental issues – stigma is reduced
Question #1 – How were Britney Spears’ behaviours as taken up by the tabloid
presses used to reinforce biomedical understandings of ‘mental illness’?
- Prior to her initial institutionalization, a hostile press continued to prey on
Britney for her bad girl misdeeds
- But once reconceptualized as ‘mad’, the press refocused from hostility to
concern – misbehavior was reinterpreted as signs of symptomology
- Psy professionals find themselves caught up within a culture of blame, in
which almost any unfortunate event becomes a tragedy which could have
been avoided and for which some authority is to be held culpable
- This culpability amplifies the demand that psy professionals police their
- In turn, psy discourses place increasing emphasis on demanding that mad
people police themselves through self-monitoring and self-regulation
- The following threads work towards dispersing dominant biomedical models
for understanding mental illness:
oThe ways in which psychiatric expertise has been brought into the
tabloid press to explain and promote certain psychiatric models for
understanding madness
oHow information on signs and symptoms of mental illness have
proliferated in tabloid text, and how this data can in turn be used to
psycho-socialize the everyday lives of readers
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