Geoffrey Reaume – interview
Geoffrey Reaume was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. For a period of time when he was a teenager Geoffrey was a psychiatry patient and resident in a psychiatric facility. Coming to the University of Toronto to do a master’s degree in labour history, he discovered the history of psychiatry and stayed to do a dissertation on patient life at the former Provincial Hospital for the Insane, now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). In 2004 Geoffrey was hired into a tenure-track position in York University’s Critical Disability Studies graduate program. Geoffrey works across the boundaries of the academy and the community: he has played a key role in establishing mad history as a creditable and popular field of academic study in Canada and is also is a co-founder of the Psychiatric Survivor Archives, Toronto, has written a play, and leads tours of the surviving patient-built wall at CAMH.
Mad history as an emerging academic specialization and mad academics who bridge the academy and the community are the main topics of Geoffrey’s 2009 interview. He traces his path from patient to professor and growing connection with Toronto’s psychiatric survivor community. Geoffrey describes coming in Toronto in 1988, curious about the city’s psychiatric survivor community but still reluctant to disclose his patient history to others. He talks about how his decision to be “out” in the academic community about his psychiatric history and to focus his work on patients, past and present, was rooted in the support that he found in the 1990s in Toronto’s psychiatric survivor community.