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Wk. 4 - Collective Madness Readings - Notes & Questions

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Disability Studies
DST 500
Jijian Voronka

DST500 - Questions to Guide Week 4 Readings: February 4, 2013 Collective Madness Chapter 1, from Dipak Gupta’s (2001) book Path to Collective Madness: A Study in Social Order and Political Pathology. Praeger. Westport, CT.  Around 1993, many horrific stories of brutality and violence filtered out of the tormented East European nation  Ethnic cleansing, rape and torture were used as deliberate policies of the various warring factions, modern Yugoslavia  These were not isolated groups of people, but ordinary civilians  Germany experienced the same during the Holocaust – participation of ordinary Germans  Recount of Vietnamese massacre  Cultural Revolution in Beijing – war between the Japanese  Guyana  Southern United States – involvement of ordinary white folk in the murder of Blacks  There is a selfless face of collective identity – example: Mother Teresa and her followers who worked in the slums of Calcutta  America is highly individualistic, and therefore sacrificing for the collective is strictly voluntary 1. How does Gupta define collective madness?  Human minds going over the edge of what we normally uphold as humanity  While the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘holocaust’ describe a helpless group of victims, collective madness, in contrast, describes a wider spectrum of dysfunctional social behavior  Not actions of a single individual’s passion or anger against another individual, not done entirely for profit, and not a bunch of psychopaths  These are situations of mass insanity, where a group of people working for a shared ideology know of no boundaries to achieve their shared goals  Total merging of individual identities into a collective one, it is as fo everyone in the group possesses one mind, one goal, and one all-consuming desire  It is not apparent to people who are afflicted by it  It does not imply that those who take part in actions of hyper-identity with a group are “insane”  Term only refers to the ambient condition prevailing in the society at a particular time 2. How do the initial examples of collective madness influence the reader to see the situations through an ‘us’ and ‘them’ perspective? Is this any different from how we view individualized madness?  “Us” aspect of collective identity – how close one feels to the group determines how much time, energy, and money one invest
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