The view that was dominant in the European Enlightenment is exemplified by Hegel and sees madness as a loss of rational, intellectual capacities and the re-emergence of a more primitive side of human nature dominated by ‘the passions’ (see my previous blog).In contrast, psychologist Louis Sass draws on Wittgenstein’s critique of Cartesian philosophy to describe ‘schizophrenia’, in particular, as a form of hyper-rationality, in which individuals become overly self-conscious and detached from the everyday world.
The definition of psychosis is usually a loss of contact with reality, but in the past people referred to the loss of ‘reason’ as the characteristic of such situations.
He interprets ordinary things (headache, spots) as having special significance, and is not concerned about the sort of evidence that most of us would look for (how intruders might have entered the property).
There are two philosophical views on the nature of the impairment of ‘reasoning’ associated with psychosis or madness.
Different analyses are therefore unlikely to capture every individual’s experience of madness.
Hegel’s views of the dominance of the passions might illuminate the situation of someone who is what we might call ‘manic’, whereas Sass’ descriptions might fit some people with a diagnosis of classical schizophrenia, but the majority of situations involve varieties in between and around these two stereotypes.
Another way of putting this question might be to ask whether madness is part of the individual’s ‘self’ or whether it should be regarded as something separate.