Between World Borders:

Situating the Reality of a Child Labelled Schizophrenic as Real

  • James Tavares University of Toronto/York University
Keywords: childhood madness, child mental health, mad studies, child schizophrenia, critical disability studies


This paper explores from a critical mad studies perspective, the under-investigated relationship between madness and constructions of childhood. Through analyzing a video published by the Oprah Winfrey Network on YouTube where the host conducts an ‘interview’ with a young girl labelled with ‘childhood schizophrenia’ named Jani, I argue mad experiences of children are doubly characterized as dubious. Beyond dubious, they are conceptualized as a form of human experience so unfamiliar to sane adult perceptions they become conceptualized as entertainment. Moreover, I contend viewing the different psychogeographies or world(s) of mad people, more specifically children, that are not omnipresent to sane and mad minds alike, as farcical or disordered is problematic as it excises these realities are in fact real to those who experience them. This paper asserts the sanist move to only consider the shared phenomenological conscious experiences of populations at large is a form of cognitive injustice that ignores the multiplicity of realities that exist. What I propose towards the end of the paper is that scholarly analysis consider individuals as individuals, rather than what their subjective intersectional identities culturally demarcate. What mad positive futures can be imagined if we dare to consider Jani as Jani and not a ‘crazy little girl?


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