The epistemology and classification of ‘madness’ since the eighteenth century

Authored by: German E. Berrios , Ivana S. Marková

The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138781603
eBook ISBN: 9781315202211
Adobe ISBN: 9781351784399


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The process of divesting ‘madness’ from both meaning and mysteriousness started sometime during the middle of the eighteenth century. Although still pursued, this attempt at disenchantment 1 is unlikely ever to be completed. Written into the deep consciousness of man, madness remains first and foremost a cultural object and it will never become a ‘natural kind’. 2 This entry provides historical and epistemological information to understand this state of affairs. To begin with, some definitions are required.

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