What is "Madness?"

BlueBerry

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#1
Apologies if this has been covered in another thread already.

When I'm at my absolute worst (incredible stress, anxiety, paranoia and psychosis) I often think to myself that I've gone mad, but to be perfectly honest I don't really know what the criteria is for "madness".

I guess this is mostly because madness doesn't seem to be a proper clinical term or anything and therefore has no defined criteria? I haven't found much luck looking such criteria up online.

Do you guys think madness is a valid term? Is it offensive or outdated? Does madness refer only to severe psychosis (like schizophrenia) or is there other disorders and conditions that madness can be related to?

Do any of you consider yourself "mad"?

If madness is not a useful or valid term, is this thread kinda pointless?

Sorry for rambling, just some thoughts knocking about in my head. :scratcheshead:
 
Toasted Crumpet

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#2
I think it's said if you feel you are mad or going mad, you probably aren't as people who are really mad don't know it. That might apply to Iain Duncan Smith, for instance, tired cliche about madness that it is.
 
cpuusage

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#3
i think generally it's referred to as loss of contact with consensual reality - But very debatable as to how much consensual reality is in line with actual reality anyway? i think civilisation/humanity itself is mad. The irony of being labelled 'mad' in a society that is Insane.

Insanity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including a person becoming a danger to themselves or others, though not all such acts are considered insanity. In modern usage, insanity is most commonly encountered as an informal unscientific term denoting mental instability, or in the narrow legal context of the insanity defense. In the medical profession the term is now avoided in favor of diagnoses of specific mental disorders; the presence of delusions or hallucinations is broadly referred to as psychosis.[1] When discussing mental illness in general terms, "psychopathology" is considered a preferred descriptor.[2]

In English, the word "sane" derives from the Latin adjective sanus meaning "healthy". The phrase "mens sana in corpore sano" is often translated to mean a "healthy mind in a healthy body". From this perspective, insanity can be considered as poor health of the mind, not necessarily of the brain as an organ (although that can affect mental health), but rather refers to defective function of mental processes such as reasoning. Another Latin phrase related to our current concept of sanity is "compos mentis" (lit. "sound of mind"), and a euphemistic term for insanity is "non compos mentis". In law, mens rea means having had criminal intent, or a guilty mind, when the act (actus reus) was committed.

A more informal use of the term insanity is to denote something considered highly unique, passionate or extreme, including in a positive sense. The term may also be used as an attempt to discredit or criticise particular ideas, beliefs, principles, desires, personal feelings, attitudes, or their proponents, such as in politics and religion.
 
FreeMyMind

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#4
Madness is usually a label given by others who see you as not "normal".
But what is normal? I would say "madness" is someone who may have a chemical brain imbalance due to stress, genes, traumatic events, etc.

I do call myself crazy and mad at times, I'm sure we all think that. So I'm not just saying it's a label given by others, but you do find a lot of people aren't understanding and would rather call names instead of take the time understand people who may be struggling to keep themselves together.

But even though one may think they are crazy too, people are still offended by using certain words like "mad", "weird", "crazy" and "insane". So I think we have to be mindful of that.
 
shaky

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#5
Madness is a word I am happy to use for myself - or at least how I am at times.
I lik it because I think it is not offensive and it is a word that everyone knows (whereas 'psychosis' is a jargon word that only those who have had contact with MH services knows)

For me, being mad is when a person is not able to act 'reasonably'.
E.g. If I believe (and I don't) that there are spider people living next door waiting to pounce on me if I go outside. It may be 'logical' for me to stay indoors to avoid this threat, but it isn't 'reasonable' since 'we' all know that there are no such things as spider people.

E.g. there are times when I eat my food and I gobble it down like a hyena. I don't know why, I just have to grab it and gulp it and hardly chew and just consume it at speed. This is one way that a person can eat their food. It's not wrong, but it just isn't done like that by 99.999% of people, so it is mad (it also looks weird, I imagine, and looking mad is tantamount to being mad). I suppose I could force myself to slow down, but that requires effort, that requires fighting nature, and I don't believe in fighting nature.

So something that is 'uncontrolled', or is based on 'unusual' beliefs is madness


Of course, there are lots of things that are uncontrolled that people are allowed to get away with and not get labelled as mad - e.g. the amount that some people drink when they go out at night, so much that they are unable to walk home. That is 'mad' behaviour, but since so many people do it, it isn't called mad.
 
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#6
Do you guys think madness is a valid term? Is it offensive or outdated? Does madness refer only to severe psychosis (like schizophrenia) or is there other disorders and conditions that madness can be related to?

Do any of you consider yourself "mad"?

If madness is not a useful or valid term, is this thread kinda pointless?
I like the terms "mad" and "madness".

There's something quite beautiful about terms for experiences that are "reclaimable" in some way, and madness has some quality about it that makes it inherently so.

There will never be a ""Schizophrenia" pride"", or "Schizophrenia Studies" movements and textbooks with contributions from people with lived experiences that aren't of the "here comes the performing monkey to illustrate the professional's research in action"... and that's all demonstrative of a highly significant thing.

"madness" is a highly useful and valid term.

It can be used in ways in which I don't like (abusive and demeaning), but in the wrong hands a frozen chicken is a murder weapon, and we're all going to die anyway so what's the point in going without chicken.
 
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#7
Madness is a word I am happy to use for myself - or at least how I am at times.
I lik it because I think it is not offensive and it is a word that everyone knows (whereas 'psychosis' is a jargon word that only those who have had contact with MH services knows)

For me, being mad is when a person is not able to act 'reasonably'.
E.g. If I believe (and I don't) that there are spider people living next door waiting to pounce on me if I go outside. It may be 'logical' for me to stay indoors to avoid this threat, but it isn't 'reasonable' since 'we' all know that there are no such things as spider people.

E.g. there are times when I eat my food and I gobble it down like a hyena. I don't know why, I just have to grab it and gulp it and hardly chew and just consume it at speed. This is one way that a person can eat their food. It's not wrong, but it just isn't done like that by 99.999% of people, so it is mad (it also looks weird, I imagine, and looking mad is tantamount to being mad). I suppose I could force myself to slow down, but that requires effort, that requires fighting nature, and I don't believe in fighting nature.

So something that is 'uncontrolled', or is based on 'unusual' beliefs is madness


Of course, there are lots of things that are uncontrolled that people are allowed to get away with and not get labelled as mad - e.g. the amount that some people drink when they go out at night, so much that they are unable to walk home. That is 'mad' behaviour, but since so many people do it, it isn't called mad.
Who society does and does not deem mad is mostly about power.

Maybe even solely about power.
 
calypso

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#8
I'm going to answer in a personal way. When my male voice told me that I was lying about having voices - isn't that the irrationality of madness? I tried and tried to understand a lot of things he told me, but it just didn't make any sense. Is this really me just being different?

What about people, ( I know its rare), who take a machete to others because of their voices and belief systems telling them to. I understand that others do it for political, religious reasons, but isn't it mad when you do it because of some internal experience you are getting, like a voice?

I agree with lllMElll, I quite like the word mad - its honest and has no nonsense around it.
 
rasselas.redux

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#9
Who society does and does not deem mad is mostly about power.

Maybe even solely about power.
Yes. Implicating madness in a person is to disempower them in some way, either consolidating an existing power imbalance, or asserting one.

I'm torn about reclaiming the word mad, in a political sense. The word establishes its meaning in contrast to "sane".

When really, like you say, denoting a person as mad is a power game, always.

Might it be that reclaiming the word mad also effectively asserts a power imbalance, rather than addressing it?

I don't have the answer. Words get bandied around all the time. It's never straightforward. For instance I like the term "barmpot" but it causes a fair amount of teeth-grinding in some people.

Madness is a challenge to consensual reality. I read a short discussion about that under the line of MIA article and people, unnescessarily to my mind, were asserting that the term consensual reality was impaired because no one knew what reality was. But isn't that missing the point of the adjective "consensual"?

When the power game occurs it's a social act. Madness is something both experienced subjectively and witnessed objectively.

And that's where it all starts to fall apart.

Over and over you come across this phrase: "danger to self and others" and that has been so drummed into people, and left unquestioned, that it it is the number one definition of madness in our time.

Reclaiming madness then becomes a struggle against this number one definition.

And that causes internecine disputes and conflicts.

Because over and over people parrot it, danger to self and others, danger to self and others... it's like bloody brainwashing.

And as a definition of madness, like I say, it just falls apart as soon as you start thinking about it.

"Hi, my name is rasselas.redux. I am mad. And by defining myself as mad, I freely participate in my own debasement, disempowerment, and self-diminishment."

I'd rather

"Hi, my name is rasselas.redux. We are all mad. And by admitting to ourselves as mad, we freely participate in our emancipation, empowerment, and collective humanity."

Some people are less mad than others. That's it, to my mind. Take what we consider a sane person, strip of their sanity constructs (status, career, money etc) and plonk them into a completely different cultural and environmental situation, and watch the conceit of their sanity rapidly degenerate...

The English translation of the Japanese new term for the equivalent of schizophrenia. From "Seishin Bunretsu Byo" ("mind split disease") to "Togo Shitcho Sho" ("integration disorder").

Integration disorder. A failure to integrate.

At least it honestly underlines which way the arrow of power is pointing...
 
BlueBerry

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#10
Thanks everyone, this sounds like a pretty interesting discussion!

I myself also don't mind the term "mad" even though there's nothing very funny or enjoyable about my current mental states, but the words "mad" and "madness" have a... I dunno, lightness about them? Its also kinda frank and to the point.

I was originally trying to find that thread someone posted a wee while ago that had a video of a guy saying he was happy to call himself as mad and accept it, but I couldn't find the thread. It was an interesting video.
 
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#13
I think there is a range and very few people are completely normal - normal/slightly neurotic/moderately neurotic/very neurotic/slightly psychotic/moderately psychotic/very psychotic.
Most people slide across the various levels and can be a mixture of neurotic and psychotic.
 
shaky

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#14
I think there is a range and very few people are completely normal - normal/slightly neurotic/moderately neurotic/very neurotic/slightly psychotic/moderately psychotic/very psychotic.
Most people slide across the various levels and can be a mixture of neurotic and psychotic.
What is 'slightly psychotic'?
Actually, I think I may start a new thread
 
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firemonkee57

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#15
What is 'slightly psychotic'?
Actually, I think I may start a new thread

Maybe 'slight' was a bad choice but what I was trying to get across was the idea of a spectrum of severity. Some will present with more severe psychosis than others.
There are those with varying degrees of psychotic traits(subclinical) who don't qualify for a clinical diagnosis .
 
Toasted Crumpet

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#16
Imo people say you are mad when they want to dismiss anything you think, feel experience etc it is easier for them to just dismiss you as mad then they don't have to try and understand what you are going through, why you feel the way you do or what you have experienced to get to this point. You are just mad and can be ignored or patronised or shouted at etc - it won't affect you anyway as you are just mad right?

People where I used to live were good at this, but psychiatrists are especially good at it, imo.
 
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#17
... "Hi, my name is rasselas.redux. I am mad. And by defining myself as mad, I freely participate in my own debasement, disempowerment, and self-diminishment."

I'd rather

"Hi, my name is rasselas.redux. We are all mad. And by admitting to ourselves as mad, we freely participate in our emancipation, empowerment, and collective humanity."...
I agree with what your saying throughout that post, and agree it's not simple ... hard not to draw parallels with some discussions around race, and different parallels with parts of movements around sexual orientation. Interesting to compare and contrast this aspect of different struggles. I feel a little less torn than you around it's virtues with madness at the moment, but positions on concepts like this can vary in a mans life, and I can understand people who'd disagree:

for the quoted part ... a difference and distance has been outwardly imposed, and from that the lack of power of the individuals within that group has been exacerbated. It's a cycle that feeds into and perpetuates itself. Much as you say.

I feel that after that happens a disadvantaged group can say they're the same as everyone else all they like, while marginalised they in some way though are not, and remain distinct by virtue of that marginalisation. Finding some unifying identity seems an important way to create enough activism to achieve something to me. Or sets of unifying identities which push in similar enough directions often enough to move something. No movement is ever clean, precise and fraction-less. Maybe both approaches are needed alongside each other ... one way to challenge the danger to self and others rhetoric is to try to take ownership of it and make make it mean something else often enough to make a difference. Not that that's easy, but I really like that some groups of people have and do attempt to do that. It's not always what happens but what spins off from it that's important too.

To me "madness", in terms of identity, even ultra informally, has a protective bolstering quality ... a bit like making a joke about your height or weight before anyone else does ... it grabs it's own bollocks and screams "and wat" imo ... which sort of proves your point ... but I feel an affinity towards it. That may say more about me than its political utility though ... I miss the bravado of my youth, there's an avoidance of the feeling of powerlessness that comes with it. Not that I think I've particularly embraced mad identity in my life, I just think it's an important and inspiring contribution to things that some groups have ... and while it can be looked at as perpetuating in some ways, 'tis very helpful in others, and I think the existence of these things has had, and will continue to have, a positive contribution overall.

Seems intuitively a positive thing that marginalised people would create their own spaces for themselves too.
 
BlueBerry

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#18
Funny enough, my flatmates where recently having a laugh at each other's funny little quirks and they proudly declared that they were all mad.

"Except you" they said to me.
"You seem to be the only normal sane one here!"
"Uh-huh." I said.
 
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#19
I don't know, Blueberry. Being mad has a certain wild romanticism about it. I kinda like it.
 
BlueBerry

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#20
Yeah I quite like the term. It kind of takes the serious depressing edge off a bit. Feels a bit rebellious too.

Like "Yeah fuck it, I'm mad. I'm madder than a bowl of insanity and sprinkled with crazy."