Mental disability and rhetoricity retold: The memoir on drugs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the specific features of two memoirs written recently by schizophrenics: Ken Steele's The Day the Voices Stopped and Elyn Saks's The Center Cannot Hold. The memoirs of Steele and Saks feature many of the rhetorical gestures Guest Pryal identified in her analysis of the mood memoir. Both Steele and Saks testify in their writing to the appalling standard of care they experienced in the United States, and to their desire to improve that standard. Steele and Saks organise around the moment in which they accepted, rather than resisted, drug therapy. This rhetorical work of the memoir on drugs seems difficult for disability studies, as so much energy to date has been devoted to crafting a critique of the medical model. Steele and Saks acknowledge the necessity of medication and treatment as means toward maintaining their relationships, activism, and professional lives. The memoirs of Saks and Steele are both unsparing in their depictions of psychiatric abuse.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChanging Social Attitudes Toward Disability
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from Historical, Cultural, and Educational Studies
EditorsDavid Bolt
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781317908920
ISBN (Print)9780415732499
StatePublished - Jul 11 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Prendergast, C. (2014). Mental disability and rhetoricity retold: The memoir on drugs. In D. Bolt (Ed.), Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability: Perspectives from Historical, Cultural, and Educational Studies (pp. 60-67). Routledge.