Down the end of the long polished corridor, Mary O'Hagan comes face to face with the condemning words written about her in her psychiatric files. Madness Made Me is a visual poem that grapples with two very different accounts of one person’s madness, and in doing so addresses issues of the power of language, asking: is there value in madness?
Director Nikki Castle wtites:
Madness Made Me is the cinematic exploration of a subject that often defies description. Through the exposition of two different accounts of one person’s madness – the doctor’s and the patient’s – a stark and frightening disconnect is revealed.
Things may have changed in New Zealand mental health since the 1980s, in part due to the decades of work done by the film’s subject Mary O’Hagan, but societies the world over still tend to privilege the opinions of ‘experts’ over first-hand experience. My hope is that this film not only encourages independent thought on issues surrounding mental health, but also instills a deeper understanding of what it might mean for a person to experience ‘madness’, and questions how as a society we might emphasize the value of these experiences.