Madness, Violence, and Human Dignity: Transforming Madness for Dignified Existence

  • David Y. F. Ho


This chapter acknowledges that the plight of mentally disturbed, deviant, or “mad” persons demands due attention in human dignity and humiliation studies. First, I explicate the construct of human dignity in terms of five defining attributes: as being (1) an inalienable right, (2) a cardinal value underlying diverse aspects of life, (3) anchored in the relations between persons, (4) all inclusive, and (5) universal. Second, I refute the claim that madness and violence are necessarily connected; rather, the mentally disordered or disabled is more likely the recipient, not the perpetrator, of humiliation or violence. Third, I argue that madness may be rendered benign if and when its violent forms of expression are kept under control. Finally, I reexamine the history of violence committed in the name of religion and, more fundamentally, the duality of good and evil in religious or ideological fanaticism. I attempt to distinguish between the good from the evil directions in which religiosity, coexisting with madness, may take: in other words, between benign and malignant madness. These arguments summate to advance the thesis that it is possible to retain a measure of madness in dignified living (i.e., madness-in-dignity) and of dignity even in a state of madness (i.e., dignity-in-madness).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Y. F. Ho
    • 1
  1. 1.Formerly Director of the Clinical Psychology ProgrammeUniversity of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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