Madness and Its Myths

Course Code: HUMA 2004

Academic Year: 2021-2022

Every society distinguishes between those on the "inside" and those on the "outside" and one way of doing this is by labeling some people as "mad." But what does it mean to be called mad? Who gets to decide? In this interdisciplinary course students explore ways in which societies have tried to understand madness - from God-inspired visionaries and demon-possessed souls to traumatized psyches and mis-wired brains. The course begins by examining the concept of madness from philosophical, religious, psychoanalytic, sociological and evolutionary perspectives. It will analyze some commonplace myths and representations of madness in popular culture, including the multiple personality, the violent psychopath, and the mad genius. Overall, the course considers how the study of madness can shed light on our definitions of human nature, on shifting societal labels of what is considered normal or abnormal, and how difference has often been categorized as illness. Category and Level: Arts & Humanities, Lower Level Restrictions: None