Hegel's Theory of Madness

By Daniel Berthold-Bond

Subjects: Hegel
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791425060, 309 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425053, 309 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents




Note on the Zusätze to Hegel's Lectures

Chapter One.  Introduction

Chapter Two.  Hegel's Place in Early Nineteenth Century Views of Madness

Hegel's Middle Path

The Turning Point

Contesting Factions

Romantic and Empirical Medicine

The Somatic and Psychic Schools

Hegel's Speculative Philosophy of Medicine

Hegel's Anthropology of Madness:

The Reversion of the Mind to Nature

Regression, Displacement, Dream

Hegel and the Romantics

Hegel, the Somatic/Psychic Controversy, and Animal Magnetism

Chapter Three.  Madness as the Decentering of Reason

The Anatomy of Madness

Withdrawal, Separation, and Decentering

Feeling and Language

Nature, Dream, and the Unconscious

Madness and the Developed Consciousness



Are We All Mad?

Madness in Relation to Stoicism, Skepticism, and the Unhappy Consciousness

The Intimacy of Madness: Christiane, Hölderlin, and the Limits of an Ontology of Madness

Madness and Hegel's Idealism

The Quest for Unity in the Midst of Discord

Idealism, Madness, and History

Chapter Four.  Madness and the Second Face of Desire

The Two Faces of Desire

'I am I,' Narcissism, and the Death Instinct

Consciousness and Self-Consciousness

The Lure of a Primordial Unity

The Death Instinct and the Work of Destruction

The Role of Destruction in Despair and Madness

The Other Face of Desire: the Power of Evolution

The Fall

Eden: Nature, Innocence, and Evil

The Serpent and the Curse



Chapter Five.  Madness and the Unconscious

Placing Hegel in Dialogue with Nietzsche and Freud

The Definition of Madness: Regression, Separation, Nostalgia

Hegel and Freud

Features of the Unconscious

Health and Illness

Enter Nietzsche

Illness and 'The Great Health'

The Critique of Metaphysical Constructions of Reality

Madness, Dreams, and Sublimation

Dreams and Art

Art, Sublimation, and Repression

The Status of Privacy and Community

The Double Center of Madness

Chapter Six.  Madness, Action, and Intentionality

The Idea of Un-Intentionality

The Anatomy of Unintentionality

The Circle of Action

Hegel's Critique of Anti-Consequentialism

The Recoil of Action and Alienation

Intentionality and Language

The Unintentional and the Unconscious

Madness and Unintentionality

Chapter Seven.  Madness and Tragedy

On the Borderline: The Between-Space of Madness and 'Normalcy'

The Ontology of Disunion

The Broken World

Madness and The Tragic Collision of Opposites

Madness, Tragedy, and Despair

Submersion, Darkness, and the Infernal Powers of Nature

The Return to Origins, a Place Prior to Time

Physis and Nomos

Ajax and Antigone

Issues of Patriarchy

Myth and History

Inversion, Ambiguity, and Guilt

The Inverted World

The Law of the Heart and Tragic Inversion

The Unconscious

Evil and Guilt

Ontology and Anguish: The Logic and Horror of Evil

Darkened Mirrors

Chapter Eight.  Madness and Society: Coming to Terms with Hegel's Silence

The Absent Stage Setting

Foucault and Szasz:

The Social-Political 'Invention' of Madness

Some Differences and Similarities

The Semantics of Madness

The Politics of Semantic Transformation

Habeas Corpus: You Should Have the Body

Decoding Hegel's Silence

The Context of the ''Anthropology" of Madness

The Life of the Soul as Pre-History

From Anthropology to Phenomenology: From Origins to History

Hegel's Ontology of Madness as an 'Abbreviation'?

Satisfying the Writ of Habeas Corpus: We Have the Body

Therapeutics: Coercion or Liberation?

Hegel's Pinelian Heritage: 'Moral Treatment' and the Imperative of Labor

The Missing Link: Poverty, Destitution, Social Marginalization

A Revolutionary Therapeutics?

Extending Hegel's 'Middle Path': Reconciling the Social Constitution of Madness with Ontology



Author Index

Subject Index


This book shows how an understanding of the nature and role of insanity in Hegel's writing provides intriguing new points of access to many of the central themes of his larger philosophic project. Berthold-Bond situates Hegel's theory of madness within the history of psychiatric practice during the great reform period at the turn of the eighteenth century, and shows how Hegel developed a middle path between the stridently opposed camps of "empirical" and "romantic" medicine, and of "somatic" and "psychical" practitioners.

A key point of the book is to show that Hegel does not conceive of madness and health as strictly opposing states, but as kindred phenomena sharing many of the same underlying mental structures and strategies, so that the ontologies of insanity and rationality involve a mutually illuminating, mirroring relation. Hegel's theory is tested against the critiques of the institution of psychiatry and the very concept of madness by such influential twentieth-century authors as Michel Foucault and Thomas Szasz, and defended as offering a genuinely reconciling position in the contemporary debate between the "social labeling" and "medical" models of mental illness.

Daniel Berthold-Bond is Professor of Philosophy at Bard College. He is the author of Hegel's Grand Synthesis: A Study of Being, Thought, and History, also published by SUNY Press.


"This book provides us with a very intelligent understanding of Hegel's view of madness, especially in its comparative strengths relative to more influential views such as Freud's. The author also helpfully relates Hegel to some very current debates about the precise status of insanity. " — William Desmond, Loyola College"