Madness and Mental Health: 2023-4

Who Gets to Call Whom Mad? And With What Right?

This lecture in the 2023 series Madness and Mental Health is presented by Richard Gipps.

What is mental health? Can we make sense of psychosis? What’s the connection between mental health and concepts including race & evolution? Explore these questions, among others, through the lens of philosophy at the 2023/4 London Lectures.

Who gets to call whom mad? And with what right? (“They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me.”; Nathaniel Lee, 1653-1692)

The psychosis sufferer is sometimes said to ‘live in another world’ or ‘in unreality’, or to be ‘detached from reality’. Such idioms have encouraged the question: who gets to say whose world is the true one, or what counts as real? Might all this not be a power play on the part of those self-appointed policemen of the real: psychiatrists? Maybe the madman’s world is no less a world, and no less valid, than that of those who care to style themselves ‘sane’? In his presentation Richard untethers the psychiatrist from such philosophical hooks – but in the process dangles her ever more tightly on a clinical one. On the clinical hook, that is, of being a responsible authority who can’t devolve her responsibility to the textbook or diagnostic manual, to the psychologist or the neurologist.

  • About the speaker

    Richard Gipps, DClinPsychol, PhD; Clinical Psychologist; Philosopher; Senior Research Fellow, Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford. Richard lives and works in Oxford, UK, where he maintains a private psychotherapy practice and teaches philosophy and psychology.