AbstractsWomens Studies

Daughters of Persephone : legacies of maternal 'madness'

by Catherine E. Camden-Pratt

Institution: University of Western Sydney
Department: School of Social Ecology and Lifelong Learning
Degree: PhD
Year: 2002
Keywords: women; mental health; Australia; mothers and daughters; psychology; women with social disabilities; minorities
Record ID: 1036516
Full text PDF: http://handle.uws.edu.au:8081/1959.7/20751


This thesis story is about the discursively lived and re-membered experiences of a small number of local, non-indigenous women most of whom are based in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. Each of these women grew up with a mother diagnosed 'mad' within the medical model. My subjective experiences are the beginning place of this re-search. Throughout my life with her, my mother was given a variety of diagnoses within the medical model. I wanted to know how other women lived the complexities of this particular mother-daughter relationship. The thesis foregrounds know-ledges and voices that are usually silenced. There is a growing body of work about women and 'madness', about the mothers' experiences, however there is little written that places the daughters in the centre of the text. Using critical social science paradigms and the tools of post-modernism and feminisms, the daughters' stories inter-rupt and dis-rupt the dominant discourses about famil(y)ies, mothering and mental illness. By foregrounding these know-ledges, I hope that some new ways of thinking about - of seeing - these lived discursive experiences will emerge. These stories also have much to say about life's journey. The thesis is about knowing the ledges we traveled along - or didn't. It is also about which know-ledges are heard and which are silenced, who speaks for what purpose - and in this, who and what are necessarily being shadowed. It is about the inter-ruptions and dis-ruptions in know-ledges. At the beginning of each chapter, I have highlighted some prominent inter-ruptions to the discourses within that chapter. I also signpost and begin a tentative discussion of the contribution of 'mad' mothers to post-modernism and feminisms. A contribution, which it seems to me, is not fully ac-know-ledged. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)