Minds and Madness

Subject 136-210 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Between 10-12 weekly tutorials and 20-24 lectures, normally two per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any discipline area.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr James Bradley
Subject Overview:

What is the mind? What does it mean for the mind to malfunction? And how should it be treated when this occurs? This subject provides an historical overview of responses to these questions by patients, medical practitioners and society as a whole. Once considered the seat of the soul, the human mind has been captured by science, reduced to a brain- a hard-wired neural network. Metaphysical explanations of madness (theological and magical) have been superseded by scientific theories (neurological and material), thus reshaping our understanding and experience of madness. Therapiies have been transformed accordingly. In exploring these important issues, the lectures will visit the spaces and places of 'Minds and Madness', including: the ship of fools; Bedlam; the asylum; the psychiatrist's couch and the GP's rooms; the battlefield; the dissection table; the operating theatre; and the padded cell. It will introduce students to a cast of thousands, including: the fool (from King Lear and elsewhere); Descartes ('Cogito Ergo Sum') and Spinoza; Gall and Spurzheim (the founders of phrenology); Freud, Jung and many other psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists. It will anaylyse and critique changing conceptions of mental health diagnosis. And finally, it will delve into the new world of the brain, where the neurological sciences, artificial intelligence and philosophy have merged into the discipline of Cognitive Science.

Assessment: Written work totalling 4000 words comprising a tutorial assignment of 1500 words 35% (due mid-semester) and an essay of 2500 words 65% (due at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts: Prescribed Texts:Madness: A Brief History (R Porter), Oxford University Press 2003
Breadth Options: This subject is a level 2 or level 3 subject and is not available to new generation degree students as a breadth option in 2008.
This subject or an equivalent will be available as breadth in the future.
Breadth subjects are currently being developed and these existing subject details can be used as guide to the type of options that might be available.
2009 subjects to be offered as breadth will be finalised before re-enrolment for 2009 starts in early October.
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • comprehension of the subtle interplays between science and medicine, and culture and society

  • understanding of the social and historical context for contemporary attitudes to mind, body and mental health

  • development of analytical and communication skills

  • ability to conduct independent research, using primary and secondary source to mount an effective argument


Students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 degree only), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc) will receive science credit for the completion of this subject.

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts
Diploma in Arts (Gender Studies)
Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science
Graduate Certificate in Arts (History & Philosophy of Science)
Graduate Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science)
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Health Care History)
Master of Public Health

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