My Personal Working Definition of Saneism
Saneism is the carceral system that polices all mental, emotional, & spiritual states, so that anybody can claim & abuse power, so long as they are willing to participate in that policing.
The other night, I was thinking, as I often do, about how I feel limited by the definition of saneism as I've known it to be.
I decided to zero-draft to process those thoughts. And then I posted those thoughts on my social media.
For anyone who doesn't know what zero-drafting is, the most clear-cut definition I have is that it's the draft of writing that you write before the first draft, mostly to process thoughts that you have. Zero-drafting, for me, helps to get ideas to flow through without worrying about what the writing is supposed to look like.
I didn't expect the outpouring of folks who would resonate with the things I wrote and thought about when I shared.
So I'm here to share that zero draft here too.
I think it's important to make ideas accessible and available to everyone, and that's something I'm working on.
I also don't know everything, and have drawn from a lot of folks in the community to develop the things that I think and write about.
Specifically, I want to name and thank Talila Lewis ("TL"), whose working definition of ableism has been instrumental in how I have learned to think about the world. A lot of my zero-drafted definition of saneism draws from TL's working definition of ableism. You can find that working definition on TL's blog, and in addition to that you can find a very important interview that TL had on ableism on Truthout.
The rest of this is the text of the post that I made on social media of my zero draft. Please feel welcome to share your feedback, reflections, thoughts, ruminations.
There is this long-standing definition of saneism, as the oppression of those who have, or are perceived to have, "mental illness", or perceived to be "Mad".
I think there is more to it.
Saneism is the systematic way that mental, emotional, and spiritual states are categorized, labeled, and forced to be put on display as commodity that is either praised or punished.
Saneism is where value is assigned to the myriad of mental, emotional, and spiritual states that exist, by those in power, solely based on what those in power arbitrarily understand.
Saneism is the carceral system that polices all mental, emotional, and spiritual states, so that anybody can claim and abuse power, so long as they are willing to participate in that policing.
Saneism encourages folks, even Mad and Disabled community, to misunderstand, police, and denounce each other, based on how we externalize our mental, emotional, and spiritual states and experiences.
Saneism is the way that the experience of disembodiment is misunderstood and devalued in comparison to embodiment, where spiritual embodiment, and otherwise varied relationships to our bodymindspirits, are feared, and therefore, punished.
Saneism is where Indigenous peoples of the global majority, and their spiritual, emotional practices and ontologies, are devalued, pushed to the margins, made to not exist.
Saneism is where white supremacy and colonization claim ownership of the bodymindspirit, and its mental, emotional, and spiritual states.
Saneism, working in tandem with capitalism,
dictates what we are allowed
to think about, to feel,
to experience in and around
and what we are allowed
to share of those experiences,
and what we are
supposed to hide.
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Nancy Yang (pronouns: they/them or nws/lawv) is a Hmong-usameriKKKan, Mad, neurodivergent, queer psych survivor. They are a writer, advocate, and academic who cares about Disability Justice.
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