“Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know”: the pervasive socio-medical and spatial coding of mental health day centres

Lesley-Ann Smith, Ian M Tucker

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


In a research area typically dominated by the biomedical field, this paper seeks to explore the emotional experiences of long-term, mental health service users who attend charitable day centres. Academic literature has predominantly focussed on a macro-analysis of the social, political and geographical position of those with mental health distress. Subsequently, service users have been positioned as a largely homogenous group who mainly reside on the boundaries of social integration due to the negative social representations of mental health impairment. These postulations can advocate a romanticised notion of how service users engage in consensual and non-judgemental social norms in terms of social inclusion of those within therapeutic spaces. Thus, indicating that a high level of mutual camaraderie exists within a day centre. However, this approach can negate the realities encountered by service users on a daily basis whereby differing medical ascriptions such as ‘depression’ and ‘schizophrenia’ can not only influence a service user’s own self-identity and behaviour but ultimately, the acceptance of other members. In conclusion, this work indicates that rather than a discrete linear position between the ‘otherness’ of mental health distress and ‘normative’ human geographies, this area remains a complex phenomenon with levels of diversity when linked to diagnostic criteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages6
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Early online date21 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • Mental health
  • psychiatric diagnosis
  • day centre spaces
  • spinoza
  • exclusion
  • inclusion
  • schizophrenia
  • depression
  • affect


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