This is madness!

Was having a thought this afternoon about madness; how do you define it? The only way I could think of is that of being without sanity or a sound mind. But then how do you define that? The free online dictionary defines sane as having sound mind, having or showing sound judgement, reasonable. So, our definition of madness is determined by what is considered sound. So is madness merely abnormality? Or worse, is sanity defined by cultural norms? Interesting thing to ponder I think. Or is it mad to question such things? You tell me.

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4 thoughts on “This is madness!

  1. The only way I can define madness is for someone to do things without sound logic or reason behind it, I guess that makes us all a little mad on occassions. The problem in madness comes when those illogical actions hurt others as opposed to me stuffing my face with a whole bunch of chocolate buttons despite knowing it will make me hyper and/or fat.

    1. chrysalisloall

      You’ve kind of missed the point I was getting at and just said madness is sometimes not a good thing. What I was interested in is how you can determine someone is clinically insane without a mathematical measure of sanity. Even your definition of madness relies on this soundness that we cannot define. For those occasions where our madness hurts others, it’s the argument on whether it is sound or not, for example, the war in Iraq, or terrorist extremism. Do the people doing these things we can’t understand have no logical reasoning? No, they believe they are doing the right thing for all the best reasons. Just because we can’t see that they are sound doesn’t mean they aren’t. And of course, how can you expect others to see your actions as sound without telling them your whole reasoning? Yet we don’t do this, we kind of guess at a common definition of what is sound, but truly, there isn’t one.

  2. Chris

    Couldn’t you say that madness is measured by your point of view, and from your own mental state and personal situation? It is amazing to think that some of the things people thought as being mad in say the 1940s are now the norm in 2011. Though if you are looking at what could be described as clinical madness there are clinical measurements to establish the mental state and well being of the subject, such as madness established by clinical depression has several questions to establish the mental state and well being of the subject and whether they have warped thoughts and perceptions of the world which could be driving unhealthy physical or mental behaviour which could be detrimental to there or others health/safety.

  3. chrysalisloall

    You mention the fact that social norms today have changed, and thus so has the definition of what is mad. I don’t like the idea that society and culture can affect our perceptions of this, but it seems to be the case with madness. Whether greater tolerance is a good or bad thing is a different but interesting point too.

    As for clinical measurements, I really have no idea what those are, so can’t comment. I can’t see how they could be completely seperate either from society or the subject’s personality and thought process, but if they are, they might be the answer I am looking for. I will investigate further.

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