Minds and Madness

Subject 136-210 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

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: 3 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 9 hours per week.
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


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? “Minds and Madness” provides an historical over-view 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 Metaphysical explanations of madness (theological and magical) have been superseded by scientific theories (neurological and material), thus reshaping our understanding and experience of madness. Therapies 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 GPs 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 analyse 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.
Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject will
  • demonstrate a general knowledge and understanding of the major themes in the histories of psychology, psychiatry and philosophy of the mind;
  • show an appreciation of the chief scientific paradigms that have defined perceptions of the mind, and the empirical observations and conceptual developments by which they have been underpinned;
  • develop an awareness of the role of broader context, including social, economic, religious and political factors in the formulation of views of the mind and mental malady;
  • demonstrate an ability to grapple with both the conflicting interpretations of different historians and with primary source material, including scientific texts, philosophical analyses, fiction and autobiography.
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:
  • Madness: A Brief History (R Porter) Oxford University Press 2003
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

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;

For Science third year, see HPSC30002 (Minds&Madness (Science 3)).

This subject is available for science credit for students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 degree only), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc).

Related Course(s): Diploma in Arts (Gender Studies)
Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Health Care History)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History & Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science

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