In the work “History of madness” by Michel Foucault, the author discusses how what we conceptualize as madness has been built throughout history. The philosopher argues that what we call crazy is not necessarily biological, but a reflection of the values of a given society.
In ancient Greece, for example, madness was related to a person’s ability to communicate with the gods. That is, there was no need for treatment or control, as these people were considered visionaries and, to a certain extent, respected.
The vision of madness over time
From the Middle Ages, in Europe, madness went from a gift to punishment. People were seen as possessed by hellish beings. This was because a new morality was being established, Christianity.
At the time of the Renaissance, madness came to be considered the expression of the forces of nature. However, its understanding also underwent transformations. Later, it was understood as the reverse of reason and, later, it came to be designated as a set of vices, becoming a disqualifying adjective.
In the 17th century, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the motto was discipline and productivity. In this sense, anyone who did not comply with such ideals was seen as insane. In this way, places emerged to be able to intern these people.
It is worth mentioning that several groups also went through this, such as the poor, beggars, invalids, perverts and criminals. Basically, they used this mechanic for all those who were considered scum of society.
The madness seen by medicine
In the 18th and 19th centuries, madness began to be cataloged as an official disease by medicine. The “crazy individual” was constantly watched and the punishments and punishments were in forms of correction.
In the 20th century, forms of “new treatments” arrived, such as: electroshocks, baths, drownings, beatings, among others. There was also the introduction of lobotomy and the use of sedatives to control the outbreak of patients.
After the Second World War, the era of psychopharmacology was inaugurated through antipsychotics and antidepressants. Around the 1960s and 1970s, anti-asylum struggles emerged, which were only possible through the humanization of treatments. Then, therapeutic communities emerge.
Is therapy crazy?
After this very brief history of how madness has been seen over time, let us examine the following question: do psychologists only serve those who are mad? It is important to say that psychologists also help the so-called mentally ill.
However, psychotherapy is good for all people, regardless of whether they have a serious psychiatric disorder or not. Through it, self-knowledge is the possible way.
During the sessions, people start talking about themselves and understand how they work. The therapist will be extremely helpful in guiding this process, which is not easy at all. Both one and the other are walking side by side. One reveals itself and the other points, thus building unique meanings in order to understand the patient’s life.
It’s like entering a dark place with a flashlight. Every facet of being is “enlightened and known”. In this way, it will be possible to know how to deal with existence better. After all, how to fight if we don’t know the weapons and resources available?
Many people fail to understand psychic disorders. Depression, for example, is seen as laziness or vagrancy. Submitting to a psychotherapy process is often seen as a kind of weakness. As already said, others already associate it immediately with madness. And, unfortunately, stigmas follow.
On the other hand, many of these prejudices have subsided. Currently, there is a lot of information in the media explaining better about the psychotherapy process. The way to combat prejudice is knowledge.
There are several methods that psychotherapists use to treat their patients. The best known approaches are the different branches of psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy and humanistic lines. Basically, each one of them starts from an understanding and vision of what the human being is like and uses different methods in treatments.
More than the approach, one of the most important factors in the psychotherapy process is the bond and professionalism established between the psychologist and the patient. The delivery process is very delicate and requires time, dedication, involvement and openness.