Psy-Times: The Psycho-Politics of Resilience in University Student Life


  • Katie Aubrecht Mount Saint Vincent University


Mad Studies, Disability Studies, positive psychology, resilience, university students


Guided by insights from interpretive sociology, Mad Studies, and Disability Studies, this paper explores the role of universities in a psycho-social politics of resilience. I examine how the concept of resilience is used to rationalize the removal of the perspectives of university students with lived experience of disability and madness. Focusing on the University of Toronto, Canada, as a case, I trace the systematic exclusion, silencing, and erasure of the perspectives of people with lived experience within the University to the University’s inception as a colonialist project. The analysis is supported by a theorization of resilience and a brief genealogical analysis of the University of Toronto’s history as “Temporary Asylum for Female Lunatics” (or “University Asylum”) from 1856–1869. This paper illustrates the integral role that the concept of resilience plays in the social order of the University, and in the exploitation, oppression, and forcible displacement of mad-identified people by the University. Although the University Asylum building is now demolished, the colonial project that leveled it lingers on in resilience-based, success-oriented, university disability programs and initiatives.

Author Biography

Katie Aubrecht, Mount Saint Vincent University

CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Family Studies & Gerontology