IDS 101: “It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world”: Explorations of Insanity


Notions of insanity have been prevalent throughout history beginning with early views that insanity was due to demonic possession.  Different disciplines have attempted to conceptualize insanity including the psychiatric and psychological fields that have outlined what makes one “crazy” and the legal arena that has articulated the criteria for what makes one legally insane. This colloquium will explore questions related to various issues of insanity and mental illness including: What is the subjective experience of insanity like?  Does insanity really exist and, if so, what are the criteria for defining insanity?  How has our view of insanity changed over time?  Who decides who is and is not insane?  How have diagnoses of insanity and mental illness been used to oppress and marginalize groups of people throughout history?  Should insanity absolve one of responsibility for crimes committed?  Students will read historical books, novels, autobiographies, case studies, and articles that will allow for an engagement of these questions with the goal of developing their skills in critical reading, analysis, writing, and oral expression.  Click on the link below to see the most current course syllabus.