Culture of Madness Essay
Culture of Madness
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that enables individuals to engage in unruly behavior. It is a mental disorder that makes individuals deviate from social norms. In the years between 1920s and 1950s, schizophrenia was a general condition that was manifested by emotional disharmony and impacted negatively on the abilities of the white people with regard to thinking and feeling. Research article authors of psychiatric journals described schizophrenia patients as native-born-Americans of white European ancestry. Such patients were termed by psychiatric authors as harmless and instead needed psychotherapeutic care.
In 1960s, schizophrenia was described as illness manifested by rage. Research articles asserted that it was a condition that afflicted the Negro men who were hostile and aggressive. These Negroes protested for their civil rights. The protests were organized by black power, black panthers, nation of Islam or other activist group. I disagree with the view that schizophrenia has got popular cultural expression. It is merely a mental disorder that is not influenced by either race or culture. According to Metzl in 1960s, schizophrenia patients were the Negro men, who were described as aggressive and hostile.
In the real sense, the black Americans who were oppressed were not hostile neither did they act ragely. They raised their voices to be heard by Americans for a change of lifestyle, from oppression to freedom. In so doing, the black Americans were fighting for their rights as equal human beings since they wanted to be treated with equality. As discussed by Metzl, schizophrenia was associated with racism, thus biased. It was considered to be a disease of the black Americans since they expressed their feelings due to pressure exerted on them.
They were out to fight for the state of affairs between the Americans and the Black Americans. Schizophrenia is feared in the current moment. Schizophrenia patients can act unruly in a given surrounding. These patients act to satisfy only their desires not considering the effect of their deeds on other people. They can behave in a way that interferes with other people’s daily life. For example, if the illness drives them to violent behavior, other people will leave what they were doing and deal with them first. Any activity that they engage in, they do it with all their strength and thus can be destructive and fierce.
b) According to psychiatrists, schizophrenia is a biological mental illness expressed through defined symptoms like delusions whereby the patient thinks of invisibilities and acts according to his/her thoughts. It is also expressed through hallucinations where by the patient builds castles in the air and imagines that it is real life. The patients as well have disorganized speech whereby they mix issues which do not relate at all. They express catatonic behavior which is a disorganized behavior in a given environment, for instance relieving oneself in the open.
Such symptoms are manifested in ways that are specific to the surrounding, assumptions and values of the schizophrenic individual. For instance, a schizophrenic individual can behave unruly in the midst of other people. He can violently attack a group of people for no good reason and cause alarm. This is because the patient is not able to control him/herself due to lack of mental coordination. He/she thus attracts attention of people who may be in the middle of serious events. A schizophrenic patient usually makes undesired assumptions particularly in a group of people.
Whenever they see other people talk or laugh, they always think that they are being laughed at because of their condition. They can therefore attack them and end up harming them for no reason. Some usually assume that it’s their duty to perform any role anywhere. For example, some schizophrenic patients assume that it is their duty to clean every environment they are in. They therefore end up collecting wastes everywhere they go. Most schizophrenic patients think that a group of people behave in a certain manner to hurt them or because they want to go against their wishes intentionally.
They are in a condition which cannot allow them to reason with the surrounding. They instead act negatively. For example, if a schizophrenic patient is always violent, the people around him and who knows his/her condition may decide to tie him or her with some ropes or lock the person in a house for some time. If he or she happens to see some people hold such ropes in another incident, he/she may try to get hold of the ropes as he/she thinks that he/she will still be tied up. On the contrary, this may not be case.
As a matter of fact, the ropes might be for a different purpose. c) Symptoms of schizophrenia can be harmless if at all the assumptions; values and norms in the current setting are changed. This can only be achieved if there is freedom in all aspects of life of schizophrenic individuals. For instance, it can be assumed that, if one is talking to himself or herself, he or she is probably talking to the ancestors and should be allowed to do so. It can as well be assumed that if one behaves unruly, he/she is expressing some burning issues within him/herself.
Therefore, with this kind of assumptions, nobody would criticize schizophrenic individuals and subsequently, they would have all the freedom they require to express themselves. Schizophrenia cannot cause any distress if the patients are given freedom of speech. For example, a schizophrenic person should not be shut down if he mixes ideas in a discussion. He should be understood the way he is and given time to express himself. In so doing, he will not feel neglected or weak in one way or another. Some may behave in a schizophrenic manner out of a bad experience they have had before.
For example, one can become schizophrenic after a divorce or death of his/her partner. Within this context, such people need understanding and a shoulder to lean on so as to counteract the effects of what they are going through. Schizophrenic’s behavior should be termed normal in a surrounding so as not to cause distress. For example, some religions like Islam allow wife battery. Therefore when wife battery cases are encountered in a family with a schizophrenic husband, they are considered to be normal behavior. 2. Conceptual Tools Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1987).
“The Notion of Witchcraft explains Unfortunate Events,” Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande. Oxford: Clarendon Press. a) Constitution is in the making of man. It entails a set of laws or norms that are involved in structuring, creating and defining limits of power or authority possessed by government. A constitution is used to give states identify since all states that have got constitutions are referred to as constitutional states. In the context of phenomena, constitution is the process of using a category to create or come up with knowledge or perceptions about something.
A description is very different from constitution in that whereas a description is the concerned with defining an item, constitution is creation of ideas, thoughts or shapes. Constitution is used to define the structuring or production process of anything. In the context of culture, the outcome of culture or that which is attributed to culture is considered as a product of the constitution process. On the other hand, definition of the meaning of culture and what it entails is termed as description.
A distinction between constitution and description is realized in the description of witchcraft within the Zande community by Evans-Pritchard, 1987. The physiological state of a person that is linked to witchcraft is a mere description of the activity. On the other hand, a constitution is what will yield or be generated from witchcraft. Witchcraft from the wording itself is a mere description of some kind of psychic acts. However, constitution is what is synthesized from this act or from the notion itself.
The reason why Evans-Pritchard has made this distinction is to show reality in the light of witchcraft within the Zande community. The Azande are so glued into linking everything with witchcraft; therefore, the writer tries to show distinction between reality and witchcraft by giving an elaborate distinction between description and constitution of categories. This way, he tries to change the notion of Azande from thinking that every mysterious thing that happens is due to witchcraft. In the context of reality and the internal knower, symbols and language are used to describe culture.
The shift towards seeing categories as generative is seen through activities which are as a result of certain categories. A category is composed of certain elements with some common characteristics. It is the common characteristics that enable the categories to become active and achieve a certain goal. In the Zande community for example, witchcraft has been described as a psychic act. On the other hand, it has been solely associated with constituting unfortunate events among men. The objective description in this case is that witchcraft is associated with one’s physiological state.
Evans-Pritchard believes that the physiological state used to describe witchcraft is nothing more than a passage of food through the small intestines. It is this objective definition of witchcraft that seems to be embedded in the shift of witchcraft from an objective description to a generative category. The generative nature of witchcraft is seen in its role to explain occurrence of unfortunate events as well as in regulating the conduct of people. b) The shift from describing to being generative lies in the fact that, description is the initial process used to come up with a category.
Once a certain category of people or items is formed, they are used to generate and produce an intended outcome. Alternatively, they are linked to the generation of certain results. This way, the change in framework from descriptive to generative is enhanced. When this framework changes, explaining the history of a category shifts as well. This occurs in that, instead of giving the history of a category with respect to description, the generated outcome of the category is used to explain its history.
In the Zande community, witchcraft is attributed to physiological factors. Consequently, it is associated with generating mysterious negative effects on man. However, with time, the association of categories such as witchcraft, with mysterious negativity derives a different meaning and there is need to shift the explanation. In the Zande community, witchcraft is considered to be generative in every aspect of the Azandes’ lives. Each and every mysterious occurrence in the lives of the Zande community is considered to be linked to witchcraft.
Several claims are made with regard to witchcraft. For instance, among the Azandes, when blight attack groundnuts in the field, this is attributed to witchcraft. Also, if women tirelessly bail water from a pool and only manage to draw a few minuscule fish, witchcraft is said to be responsible for this mysterious occurrence. If a wife, contrary to other days, is unresponsive and gloomy, it is said that witchcraft is the cause. Evans-Pritchard has compared the occurrence of misfortunes in the Zande community to the occurrence of misfortunes among the African people.
He has gone further to show that the Azande attribute witchcraft to a chain of causation for conditions which when looked at closely, relate a person to natural occurrences. Therefore, if the occurrence of events were to be understood in a more realistic manner, the explanation of generative categories would have to change. Evans-Pritchard has showed how this would be done. In all those circumstances where witchcraft was seen as the cause of misfortunes, it was during that particular moment that witchcraft was seen as the cause of the misfortune.
This is perceived to mean that witchcraft is not solely responsible for every kind of bad luck. Therefore, the explanation would shift from a generalized understanding to a more specific one. Witchcraft, according to the people of Azande, is used to explain the occurrence of coincidence which causes harm to man. c) The shift from description to seeing categories as generative provides a way to think about rationality, irrationality or their interrelation. To examine this, the paper will look at the belief held by the people on what and who is associated with witchcraft.
From a rationale point of view, this is just a timeless category without any basis or governing principle. The community of Zande can be termed as an irrational group because of the way they attribute witchcraft to occurrences which, a normal and ordinary person would attribute to natural calamity or mere coincidence. The Azande did not practice any rationality in as far as existence of phenomena is concerned. They do not believe in the existence of phenomena, much less mystical causation. They hold the view that witchcraft is the cause for that which happens mysteriously.
The irrationality of the Azande is manifested by the fact that they cannot accept that things can occur through mere coincidence. They have used witchcraft to explain the occurrence of mysterious events. This is irrational of them as there are no facts to back up their ideology. The mere fact that witchcraft is a psychic act could also mean that it is attributed to some positive occurrences. However, this is not so as only the negative aspect of occurrences is linked to witchcraft. On the other hand, the Azande have applied some rationale in as far as why some things do happen.
For example, the Azande are very much aware that termites eat up the support of a granary thus can fall or collapse at any moment. This is a show that the Azande think rationally. However, irrationality comes in when they relate witchcraft to the collapse of a granary in the presence of people. The Azande do apply rational thinking to explain occurrences but when a negative outcome is impacted on man, this is linked to witchcraft despite the fact that it may not necessarily be the case. This is the interrelation between rationality and irrationality within the category of witchcraft among the Azande.