Asylum Magazine at ‘Mad World: On Sane People In Insane Situations’, Exhibition in Edinburgh.

Ragged University is working to bring together a collection of perspectives around challenging perceptions in the ‘Mad World: On Sane People In Insane Situations’ art exhibition.  Taking its subtitle from the famous paper written by David Rosenhan (On Sane People In Insane Places) where he and his colleagues, including Martin Seligman, checked themselves into mental asylums across the US to study them.

David Rosenhan
David Rosenhan

What came out of this social psychology experiment caused shockwaves of discussion and new critical perspectives about how society views and treats behaviour.  David Rosenhan and Martin Seligman went on to develop the textbook ‘Abnormal Psychology’, and Martin Seligman produced ‘Learned Helplessness’.

This exhibition takes a problem from one of the foremost logicians of our time – Raymond Smullyan – and reworks the famous experiment which Rosenhan led, that posed the question “can we spot madness when it is presented to us”.  The public will be invited into Edinburgh Palette’s largest gallery to look at a collection of work done by various artists – some diagnosed, some un-diagnosed – and asked to work out whether they are mad or sane under the premiss of the Smullyan logic problem.

This is to stretch brain muscles whilst walking through a landscape of literature, iconic figures in critical psychiatry and historical insights into the broadening discussion around ‘madness’. With the emergence of ‘Mad Matters; A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies’ and the degree course ‘Mad Peoples History’ in Ryerson University in Toronto, the exhibition has brought together in one room some of the many long standing champions of the lesser heard perspective – including Asylum Magazine and collective.

A retrospective of the contributions of Asylum Magazine will be on show, from some of the earliest editions through to the current ones (which will be available to buy).  Various highlights of the content, ideas and themes pioneered and championed through Asylum as a platform will be highlighted in a display formulated by the collective.

This is a collective opportunity to use art as a vehicle of free expression, highlighting to the public the rich landscape that is coming to reform the way that medicine operates in the lifeworlds of individuals and broader society.  With professionals of various positions taking part, alongside individuals who have received the attentions of professionalised behaviour, it will prove to be an interesting and fertile crucible for further thought.

There will be interactive elements, retrospective pieces, informational and educational sections, as well as outstanding art for everyone to involve themselves in.  You are warmly invited to come along to the official opening on the 29th of May, where there will be performance art, talks and music as well as the chance to socialise with people exploring the themes.

If you have something which you would like to share by contributing to the Mad World Archive (, please do get in touch via email.  The exhibition will be running from  the 27th of May all the way to the 21st of June.  You can find out more on the website and by engaging via social media:

Twitter: @raggedtalks

Facebook: Ragged University
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