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Week 1: Sunday – 17th February, 2002 – Introductory Lecture:

Dr. Louis N. Sandowsky


Philosophy and the Ethics of Madness





Course Schedule



Week 1: Introductory Lecture:


The Freudian Psychoanalytic Approach.


What madness is not. The psychoanalytical approach. Sigmund Freud’s distinction between neurosis and psychosis. Discourse on unconscious intentions or motivations that are in play to a more excessive degree in the neurotic. The concept of repression and the notion of the unconscious.

An examination of how Freud’s orientation and terminology has been introjected into the subtext of common discourse – how his text, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life popularized the mechanisms that are at work in everyday slips of the tongue or other bungled actions (parapraxes).



Week 2: (Reading Material: Notes from the Underground. Fyodor Dostoevsky).


The Literary Approach.


Is being too conscious a kind of dis-ease? Insane clarity! A review of some exemplary texts that utilize a broad spectrum of different narrative types.

Madness as turbulent streams of consciousness. Madness and art. Writing on madness from the inside-out. Madness in relation to drug culture.


The Doors of Perception. Aldous Huxley.

Equus. Peter Shaffer.

Freud and Man’s Soul. Bruno Bettelheim.

Metamorphosis. Franz Kafka.

Mrs. Dalloway. Virginia Woolf.

The Naked Lunch. William S. Burroughs.

The Teachings of Don Juan. Carlos Castaneda.

When Nietzsche Wept. Irvin D. Yalom.

The White Hotel. D.M. Thomas.



Week 3: (Reading material: Freud’s essay, “The Unconscious.” Extract from R. D. Laing’s The Divided Self. Extract from Sartre’s “Existential Psychoanalysis” from Being and Nothingness).


The Phenomenological-Existential Approach.


Discourse on Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology and the theme of ‘intentionality.’ Consciousness is always consciousness of something. How can this fundamental principle be reconciled with discourse on an un-conscious?

The importance of the issue of the Un-conscious in the writing of Nietzsche and Freud.


Discussion on Sartre’s crtique of the notion of an unconscious and its substitution by the theme of Bad Faith. Also, Freud’s anticipation of such a critique in the essay “Some Elementary Lessons in Psychoanalysis.”


The difference between the unconscious and rationalization.



Week 4: Review Session



Week 5: (Reading material: Freud’s essays, “The Ego and the id,” “The Instincts [Drives] and their Vicissitudes”).


The Freudian Genetic Approach.


Freud’s development of the dynamic and economical models of the psyche Ego (Ich – I) and the id (es – it) effectively deepened the issue of unconscious mental functioning. The topographical discourse on the unconscious was designed to explain acts of repression, but this was effectively an up-down approach. However, the dynamical, tripartite model of the id, ego, superego provides a bottom-up perspective that demonstrates how part of the ego is, and always has been, unconscious. The conscious part of the psyche is like foam on the wave of the unconscious drives (Triebe) that motivate it.


The Ego as a mere negotiator. It is not the captain of the soul, it is a mere ship’s boy.


Although we speak of un-conscious drives, they are still ‘intentional’ (however, such intentionality must not be confused with self-consciousness – it is a matter of pre-reflexive directionality / transitivity). The drives are always aiming towards fulfilment. The objects may change through processes of sublimation, but the drives are always directed toward their fulfilment. Orgasm and Death – petit mort!



Week 6: (Reading Material: “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” Freud).


The Life-Death Motivational or Power Approach.


A deepening of the issues that were brought up in the previous lecture. The intertwining of Eros and Thanatos. The death drive as motivated by the Pleasure Principle. The destructive impulse as a need to control. The Will to Power.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Melanie Klein, and Michel Foucault are considered.



Week 7: (Reading Material: extracts from Freud’s “Civilization and its Discontents,” “Totem and Taboo,” “The Future of an Illusion.”).


The Outside-in Cultural Psychoanalytic Approach.


In the later part of Freud’s career, his orientation shifted from purely focusing on the constitution of the intra-subjective psyche to an analysis of how these structures and dynamics play themselves out in the intersubjective dimension of society itself. The analysis of individual psychological problems could not maintain themselves in a cultural void.

Neurotic behaviour as a sane and reasonable response to an ‘insane social environment.’


Including a discussion on R.D. Laing’s mature views about the madness of civilization and why his estimation of the value of the psychotherapeutic scenario was ineradicably altered.



Week 8: Review Session



Week 9: (Reading Material: Madness and Civilization. Michel Foucault).


The Socio-Political-Ideological-Historical Approach.


The constitution of the concept of madness. Socio-political marginalization, exclusion, and the confinement of the insane. The process of dehumanization.

If madness is a construct of the civilization that defines it, then is it possible to speak of madness in its own terms – according to its own logics?



Week 10: (Reading Material: Continuation of Foucault’s Madness and Civilization).


            Individual and population control through observation. The emergence of behaviourism and the panoptical approach to the maintenance of order. The valuative subtext of everyday discourse.



Week 11: (Reading Material: extracts from Derrida’s essays, “Freud and the Scene of Writing,” “Cogito and the History of Madness,” and “Doing Justice to Freud.”)


The Deconstructive Approach.


The Ethics of Madness: The Problem of the Other or The Problem of Listening? Madness and Alterity. Madness as the Other.


Deconstruction as a form of textual psychoanalysis – a technique of reading between the lines. The quasi-concept and strategy of différance reveals the slippage in all forms of measurement – in particular, the Western philosophical ‘obsession’ with ‘presence.’

A reappraisal of the importance of the theme of the unconscious and non-presence in a philosophical horizon that is obsessed with presence to the point of repressing all that does not fall within its margins. The tyranny of presence, the annulment of the rights of difference, and the evasion of dialogue.



Week 12: Review Session and Concluding Discourse.


This session may coincide with a screening of “Equus” or “The Wall.”





Bibliographical Resources


Useful Links on the Internet:



Dostoevsky (free e-text – Notes from the Underground):









Nietzsche (“Nietzsche’s Labyrinth” – excellent site for free e-texts):



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:






Postmodern Thought:



Radical Psychology:










(Texts that are cited in this course)



Bettelheim, Bruno

Freud and Man's Soul. Pelican. 1982.


Bataille, Georges

The Story of the Eye. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. 1st City Lights ed. San Francisco : City Lights Books, 1987.


Burgess, Anthony

A Clockwork Orange. London: Heinemann, 1970 (1962).


Burroughs, William S.

The Naked Lunch. London : Calder & Boyars, (1970, c1959).


Castaneda, Carlos

The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui way of knowledge. Berkeley : University of California Press (1973, c1968).


Derrida, Jacques

Margins of Philosophy. Trans. Alan Bass. The Harvester Press. 1982. Marges de la Philosophie. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit. 1972.

Of Grammatology. Trans. G.C. Spivak. The John Hopkins University Press. 1974. De la Grammatologie. Paris:Les Editions de Minuit, 1967.

Writing and Difference. Translated, with an introduction and additional notes, by Alan Bass. The University of Chicago  Press. 1978. L'ecriture et la différence. Paris: Seuil, 1967.


Dostoevsky, Fyodor

Notes from the Underground, including, White nights, The dream of a Ridiculous Man, and selections from the House of the Dead. A new translation with an afterword by Andrew R. MacAndrew. [New York] : New American Library [1961].

Dostoevsky (free e-text – Notes from the Underground):



Foucault, Michel

Madness and Civilization. A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason. Translated from the French by Richard Howard. Routledge. London: Tavistock, 1967, 1965. (Reprinted 1991).


Freud, Sigmund

On Metapsychology: The Theory of Psychoanalysis. Trans. James Strachey. Pelican.

The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated from the original German under the General Editorship of James Strachey in collaboration with Anna Freud and assisted by Alix Strachey and Alan Tyson.

Volume 23. Moses and Monotheism, An Outline of Psychoanalysis (includes “Some Elementary Lessons in Psychoanalysis.” [1938 –1940]) and other works. 1964. London. The Hogarth Press.


Heidegger, Martin

The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. Indiana University Press. 1982. [Based on the lectures of 1927]. Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie. Edited by Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann. 1975.

Being and Time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (7th edition). Blackwell. 1962. Sein und Zeit Tubingen: Max Niemeyer. 1927.

The Concept of Time. Trans. William McNeill. Blackwell. 1992. [Based on the lecture given in 1924].

Poetry, Language, Thought. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. (Copyright 1971 – Heidegger).


Husserl, Edmund

Cartesian Meditations. Trans. Dorion Cairns. Martinus Nijhoff. 1960. [Original German text – 1929]. Husserliana I [Hua]: Cartesianische Meditationen und Parisier Vortrage. Edited by S. Strasser. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1963. 2nd ed.

The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Trans. David Carr. Northwestern University Press. Hua VI: Die Krisis der Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Phänomenologie. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1962.

Experience and Judgement: Investigations in a Genealogical Logic. Revised and edited by Ludwig Landgrebe. Trans. James S. Churchill and Karl Ameriks. Introduced by J. S. Churchill and Lothar Eley. Northwestern University Press. 1973. – Erfahrung und Urteil. Edited by Ludwig Landgrebe. Hamburg: Classen. 1938.

The Idea of Phenomenology. Trans. W.P. Alston and G. Nakhnikian. Martinus Nijhoff. 1950. [lectures of 1907]. Hua II: Die Idee der Phänomenologie. Edited by Walter Biemel. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1958.

Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. Trans. W.R. Boyce Gibson. Collier/Macmillan. [first translation 1931] Original German text – 1913. Hua III.1: Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie: Erstes Buch. Edited by Karl Schuhmann. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976. See also: Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy. First Book: Trans. F. Kersten. 1982.

The Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness. Edited by Martin Heidegger. Trans. J.S. Churchill. Indiana University Press. 1964. [Lectures of 1905-1910]. See also: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. Translated by John Barnett Brough. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1991. Hua X: Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893-1917). Edited by Rudolph Boehm. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966.


Huxley, Aldous

The Doors of Perception. Aldous Huxley. New York : Harper & Row (1970, c1954).


Kafka, Franz

Metamorphosis. Translation by Willa and Edwin Muir. New York : Schocken Books (c1948).


Kearney, Richard

Dialogues with contemporary Continental thinkers: The phenomenological heritage. Manchester University Press. 1984. Includes "Deconstruction and the Other [An Interview]."


Kierkegaard, Soren

Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Trans. David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie. Princeton University Press. 1968. [Originally published in 1846].


Laing, R.D.

The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. 1959. Pelican (1965).


Matte Blanco, Ignacio

The Unconscious as Infinite Sets – an essay in bi-logic. Duckworth. 1975.


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice

Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. Colin Smith. R.K.P. 1962.

The Primacy of Perception. Edited, with an Introduction by James M. Edie. Northwestern University Press. 1964.

The Visible and the Invisible. Trans. Alphonso Lingis and edited by Claude Lefort. Northwestern University Press. 1968. [Manuscripts of 1959-61].


Nietzsche, Friedrich

Twilight of the Idols. Trans. R.J. Hollingdale. Penguin. Trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. Vintage Books. 1967-8.

Beyond Good and Evil. Trans. by Walter Kaufmann (1966). New YorkVintage Books.

(See: “Nietzsche’s Labyrinth” – which is an excellent site for free e-texts): http://www.inquiria.com/nz/index.html


Ricoeur, Paul

Freud and Philosophy: an Essay on Interpretation. Trans. Denis Savage. New Haven; Yale University Press. 1970.

Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. Edited and translated by John B. Thompson. Cambridge University Press. 1981.

Husserl: An Analysis of his Phenomenology. Trans. E.G. Ballard and L.E. Embree. Northwestern University Press. 1967.


Rapoport, Judith L.

The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing. (New York: Dutton, 1989)


Sandowsky, Louis N.

Anankasia – to suffer from a surfeit of truth” or “Yeah, I know it’s crazy, but I have to do it anyway!” Journal of Radical Psychology (JRP) Spring 2001 Vol. 2 (1) ISSN: 1561-8978. Internet Publication: http://www.radpsy.yorku.ca

Also Café Différance: “Yeah, I know it’s crazy, but I have to do it anyway!”


Sartre, Jean-Paul

Being and Nothingness. Trans. Hazel E. Barnes. Methuen. 1958. [Original French text 1943].

Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions. Trans. by Philip Mairet. Preface by Mary Warnock. Methuen. 1962.


Shaffer, Peter

Equus (in Three Plays, including Five Finger Exercise, Shrivings, and Equus). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978, c1976.

Videorecording of the film adaptation, dir. Sidney Lumet. Hollywood: United Artists Corporation, 1977. VCV-3147.


Thomas, D. M.

The White Hotel. New York: Viking Press, 1981.


Woolf, Virginia

Mrs. Dalloway. New York : Harcourt, Brace (c1925).


Yalom, Irvin D.

When Nietzsche Wept. 1992. HarperPerennial (a Division of HarperCollins). 1993.