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What is the mind? What does it mean for the mind to malfunction? And how should it be treated when this occurs? 'Minds and Madness' provides an historical over-view of responses to these questions by patients, medical practitioners and society as a whole. Once considered the seat of the soul, the human mind has been captured by science, reduced to a brain, 'a hard-wired' neural network. Metaphysical explanations of madness (theological and magical) have been superseded by scientific theories (neurological and material), thus reshaping our understanding and experience of madness. Therapies have transformed accordingly. In exploring these important issues, the subject will visit the spaces and places of 'Minds and Madness', including: the ship of fools, Bedlam, the asylum, the psychiatrist"s couch and GPs rooms, the battlefield, the operating theatre, and the padded cell. It will introduce students to a cast of thousands, including: the fool (from King Lear and elsewhere), Burton, Descartes, Locke, Pinel, Kraepelin, Cotton, Freud, Laing, Engel and Spitzer. It will analyse and critique changing conceptions of mental diagnoses. it will delve into the new world of our contemporary neurosciences. Finally, it will explore how historians have made sense of this story.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject will:
- demonstrate a broad knowledge of the history and historiography of the historical and contemporary relationship between minds, madness and medicine;
- synthesise, analyse and assess arguments about minds and madness, and contextualise these arguments within the broader realms of history and philosophy;
- create effective arguments, backed up by convincing evidence, about the historical dynamics between minds, madness and medicine, and be able to express these to experts and interested non-experts alike;
- develop high-level research skills, including the ability to extend your knowledge-base beyond subject materials, combining traditional library- and archive-based research with digital research;
- engage with the world beyond the academy, through social media or other means;
- develop effective communication and presentation skills (written and oral), and the ability to collaborate constructively within the classroom;
- demonstrate ethical integrity in written work and classroom activities, including a deep ethical engagement with issues around mental health and illness.
Last updated: 25 August 2020