Minds and Madness

Subject HPSC30019 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 (2x 1 Hour Lectures and 1x 1 hour tutorial each week.)
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8.5 hours each week.
Prerequisites: None.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: Knowledge gained in the completion of at least 75 points of first year subjects.
Non Allowed Subjects: Students who have completed 'Minds and Madness' under the codes 136-260, 136-360, 672-329 or HPSC30002 are not permitted to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/
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 Metaphysical explanations of madness (theological and magical) have been superseded by scientific theories (neurological and material), thus reshaping our understanding and experience of madness.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.


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.

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). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

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:

Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • have a comprehension of the subtle interplays between science and medicine, and culture and society
  • have an understanding of the social and historical context for contemporary attitudes to mind, body and mental health
  • develop analytical skills and communication skills.
  • have an ability to conduct independent research, using primary and secondary source to mount an effective argument.
Links to further information: http://www.pasi.unimelb.edu.au/hps/
Notes: pre 2008 3rd year science Students (only) should enrol in HPSC30002 (136310) for science credit 136-310 is considered a science subject for this students only. 136310 (HPSC30002) is not a Breadth subject for science students.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science Major

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