What Is Madness?
Madness is a matter of perception. It is about truth - your truth versus another person or society's truth. How far apart from understanding that truth between two parties or group of individual's defines the person under scrutiny as mad or not.
Wolfgang Amedus Mozart was considered extremely mad in his time. From this madness came a stroke of genius in the form of music. The music that he created may be thought of as a unique expression of madness. For this was his truth in manifest. Alas, no one really understood him in any other form of communication - why should they? He, after all, was mad or was he just misunderstood?
So, what is madness? It is this that we shall discuss further.
Insanity Is A Matter Of Social Perception
In the title of the film 'The madness of King George' we can see a clear label expressing the confused world of a loony King. Just because no one could understand his confused state, doesn't necessarily mean that King George was mad. He was labelled this because society considered his behavior as madness personified.
Such is the measurement between what a society considers normal behavior and what an individual displays as a behavior can conflict. Madness, therefore, is a social construction, as the Psychologist Albert Bandura would say (social constructionist theory, see link at the end of this article). It is a label based on what the society of the day would consider normal behaviour.
Influences To Aid Insanity
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Did You Know?
The average I.Q. of a monkey is around 70.
The average I.Q. of a human being is 100.
That makes a difference of 30 points.
Einstein's I.Q. was estimated at 160.
Is it any wonder the rest of society didn't understand him?
Conclusion: There were times Einstein was considered mad!
What Influences Madness?
All behaviors, thus as with madness, can be explained in relation of the following. It is in no doubt that the following subject material has an influence on the mad sufferer. Please note that many of these elements do intertwine:
- Psychology - ‘Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour of humans and animals.’ Psychologists concentrate on what is observable and measurable in a person’s behaviour. This includes the biological processes in the body, although, the mind is central to the subject.
This is an interesting concept as to what constitutes as 'normal behavior' as analyzed by Doctors of Psychology.
They, essentially, are looking at behaviors and deciphering what is being biological internalized by the subject concerned, this results in a display of 'mad' behavior. Again, madness is a concept measured by what constitutes as socially acceptable.
Mental disorders as outlined by Doctors of Psychiatry, otherwise known as their social construction of reality or definition of what constitutes as madness.
Madness is a product of the physical because the physical is linked to the mental. This could be a hormonal imbalance, physical illness or something less subtle that might be harder to diagnose. Whatever, mad behaviour, has it's roots within the physical.
Going back to the madness of King George, as an example, it has recently been found that he had large amounts of arsnic in his body (see reference). Arsnic is a poison and creates irratic behaviour in people. Arsnic makes people mad!
Social influences can have an impact on people's psyche. It is understandable that many homeless people on the streets might be considered mad, for example. Having to survive outdoor conditions, lack of money, clothes and food is enough to induce madness in the best of people. Again, such influences has an impact on the physical and, therefore, mental.
Emotional stability is a measure of madness. The more stable a person is, the less mad they will be. Again, I refer you back to the physical and social.
Leisure can lead to pleasure, provided it is something that rocks your boat! The eratic displays of bad behaviour can soon wain when those endorphines kick in (physical implications, again, are linked). Madness, therefore, can come in waves of high's and low's depending on what the stimulation is.
Losing the Plot - Transition Induced Madness!
Kübler-Ross Model In Brief
- Denial – Disbelief at what has happened.
- Anger – Seeking blame, feeling hateful and resentful.
- Bargaining – Seeking other ways to delay the inevitable
- Depression – Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Acceptance – Accepting the new reality and preparing for the outcome.
Madness is not descriminatory. It can affect the rich as well as the poor. The keen difference, however, is that the perception of other people's mad behaviour might be acceptable within the poorer domains and not within richer domains and vicer versa.
Of course, a lack of money and even the responsibility of too much money, might enduce a fit of madness. Any sort of transition of this nature can have a profound effect as cited with the Kubler-Ross Model. This refers not just to grief but all forms of change in a person's life.
Madness, therefore, can be induced by change.
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Madness can measured by the way people communicate.
Communication comes in various different means: Body Language, the spoken word, actions, responses and even the subtle silences.
Of course such forms of communication are social constructions - one culture finds one behavior as socially acceptable, whilst another finds the behavior as just mad!
Living in the Western world would find a man running about in tribal clothes in our streets as mad, for example, but the same man in the jungle would be acceptable.
The impact from our environments can send a sane man into a mad one.
In a time of war, for example, can test the most stable of men: shell shock, a terrorist attack and even a black out can bring about madness.
A shock from outside sources can have a marked effect on the mentality on the sane, to make the insane!
Conclusion: Insane Truth - What is Reality?
So, what is madness? In this article we have taken a whistle-stop tour into the impact of being mad. Is madness an illusion or is it a true perception of ourselves and others? To conclude, I want to welcome you to a world of misunderstanding... a world where there are many versions of the truth and where we have all been brain washed into a uniform version of truth as a social construction of reality. Our actions can be misinterpreted as being mad. We judge and judge others on the basis of our personal perception of appropriate behavior and help to formulate a cultural reality. Insanity, therefore, is a lottery of delusional interpretation that is influenced by many contributory factors as suggested, including the physical, environmental and social.
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