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DST 500 Chapter Notes -Westport, Connecticut, Mother Teresa, Ethnic Cleansing


Department
Disability Studies
Course Code
DST 500
Professor
Jijian Voronka

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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 invests. Any tie we
need a public good that is going to benefit people regardless of
contribution, we need the strength of collective identity
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