“I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Peter Finch, in the film, “Network” (1976)
“It’s a mad world.” Tears for Fears, “Mad world ” 1983
“Madness…” Last spoken word in, “The Bridge of the River Kwai” (1953)
Undoubtedly, language shapes the archaeology of our consciousness. We are born into a realm, where our understanding and interpretation of experiences is influenced by the language we have acquired and accessed. However, unlike some people, I do not believe that language is the prerequisite for the existence of consciousness itself. For, language is as contingent on the ever changing forces of history as the rest of social reality.
In previous centuries, the word, “madness,” was employed to denote loss of reason. Those deemed to be “mad” were thrust beyond the margins of social acceptability and imprisoned in institutions, where the rational and reasonable majority, did not have to acknowledge the existence of otherness, a challenge to shared norms about behaviour and belief. Since then, we have witnessed a process by which the concept of “madness” has been medicalised as a form of illness. Thus, in the contemporary world people who experience mental health issues are perceived to be unwell. Although this liberates people, like me, from objectionable connotations about the nature of our psychological make up, it impacts both on the way in which we, ourselves as people diagnosed with, “mental illness,” perceive our own functionality and how we are perceived and treated by others. Science should be the motor of progress, but people with mental health problems are still waiting.