The Western History of Madness from the Bible to DSM-V (IDSEM-UG 1961)

Viewed as a natural kind or socially constructed, “madness” was defined and treated, examined and controlled, diagnosed and cured according to the spirit of the time. This course follows the varied social imageries of “madness” throughout Western history, from the Hebrew Bible to the contemporary and controversial Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), also known as “the bible of psychiatry”, in its most recent 5th edition. Students read primary and secondary texts by philosophers, physicians, theologians, jurists, tragedians, novelists, psychologists, social reformers, policy makers, journalists, historians and individuals who suffered madness, also known as “experts from experience.” They also observe art and watch films that portray different aspects of madness. Reading includes: the Bible, Plato, Hippocrates, Ibn Sina, Margery Kempe, Erasmus, Robert Burton, Freud, George Canguilhem, Foucault, Ian Hacking, Elaine Showalter, Ruth Leys among others. The course explores the interaction between the social, cultural, scientific, political as well as economic factors that have shaped the views of “madness” and its treatment while paying ample attention to the history of ideas that informed and, often, framed them.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Fall 2021)

IDSEM-UG 1961-000 (14205)
09/02/2021 – 12/14/2021 Fri
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Early afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Ophir, Orna