SHIP OF FOOLS is a mental health writers' collective, founded in May 2018 by Maz (Mary Anne) Lucia , a political researcher and writer from Scotland. A year and a half into her PhD, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in addition to her diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder as a teen. The impetus to start this collective of mental health counternarratives was born during an episode of bipolar mania in the spring of 2017 and has now metamorphosed into a spirited working project. 


The Ship of Fools is an allegory, originating from Book VI of Plato's Republic, about a ship with a dysfunctional crew. As leprosy disappeared from the Western world at the end of the Middle Ages, the structures around it remained and soon the "mad" replaced the lepers as the subjects of expulsion. During the same time, the Ship of Fools allegory appeared as a literary device, becoming a staple part of art and literature, and eventually a reality. Many European countries would send people who had been arrested on account of being "mad" out to sea. The municipal authorities would hand madmen over to mariners who would take them around various ports of different European cities. Travelling from port to port, the madman had no fixed place in society. As a transient being, he could cause no shame. When the classical idea of madness was born during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the allegory was moored - "no longer a ship but a hospital".

...oblivion falls upon the world navigated by the free slaves of the Ship of Fools. Madness will no longer proceed from a point within the world to a point beyond, on its strange voyage; it will never again be that fugitive and absolute limit. Behold it moored now, made fast: among things and men. Retained and maintained.
— Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization

SHIP OF FOOLS takes a look at the captain, crew and mad(wo)men aboard, dovetailing personal, professional and hybrid counternarratives of mental health. If you’re a 'fool' who’d like to write for us, please fill in a submission form or email us at