Losing our humanity

In his book, Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault recounted:

Toward the middle of the eighteenth century, a farmer in the north of Scotland has his hour of fame. He was said to possess the art of curing insanity. Pinel notes in passing that this Gregory had the physique of a Hercules: “His method consisted in forcing the insane to perform the most difficult tasks of farming, in using them as beasts of burden, as servants, in reducing them to an ultimate obedience with a barrage of blows at the least act of revolt.”

In the reduction to animality, madness finds both its truth and its cure; when the madman has become a beast, this presence of the animal in man, a presence which constituted the scandal of madness, is eliminated: not that the animal is silenced, but man himself is abolished.

Have we, as human beings, abolished our very humanity by giving in to authority and conformity?



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