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In contemporary language, the term madness is often used synonymously with words such as mental illness and psychopathology to refer to disordered mental states and abnormal behaviors. However, while these terms designate medical and psychological conceptions of internal disorder, the concept of madness as examined in social theory is much more encompassing. Rather than attempting to explain biological or psychological causes of mental illness, social theories of madness try to understand the history of madness and the social mechanisms by which madness has been defined and regulated. From this view, it is assumed that the experience and social engagement with madness changes over time and place. In some religious traditions, madness is understood as demonic possession or divine inspiration. In other contexts, madness has been ...

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