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The Western History of Madness from the Bible to DSM-V

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG1961
Section 001
Instructor Orna Ophir
Days F
Time 12:30 PM - 3:15 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM, PREMOD



Whether seen 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 Bible to the contemporary and controversial Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) in its most recent 5th edition. Students will read primary and secondary texts by philosophers, physicians, theologians, jurists, tragedians, novelists, psychologists, social reformers, policy makers, journalists, historians and individuals who suffered madness. They will also watch art and films that portray the phenomenon of madness. Reading includes: the Bible, Plato, Hippocrates, Ibn Sina, Margery Kempe, Robert Burton, Sigmund Freud, George Canguilhem, Michel Foucault, Ian Hacking, Elaine Showalter, Ruth Leys among others. The course will explore the interaction between the historical and social, scientific and 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.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)