Trigant Burrow’s Structural Theory of Insanity
by Professor Dr. Jacob van der Westhuizen
Professor Dr. Jacob van der Westhuizen is a noted criminologist and the former director of a major South African criminology research institute; he currently serves as a Research Consultant to the University of South Africa where he directs the work of postgraduate students of criminal justice and the science of asset protection and security control. Dr. van der Westhuizen received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Bachelor of Arts with honors, Master of Arts cum laude as well as his Ph.D. degree from the University of South Africa. He is a member of the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association, the International Police Association, and an Associate Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Author’s Note: Burrow’s theory is presented and discussed here for a number of reasons: especially because such a revisit to a theory which was aired some seven decades ago by a prominent psychiatrist may perhaps now be utilized to redefine current descriptions, explanations, predictions, and control of severe or imminent mental derangement; or at least, shed some light on the reasons why the theory has been regarded as a red-hot point of heavy dispute and bitterness, and shifted on to the back burner for utility and expediency reasons.
No serious attempts are being made to enhance the validity, reliability, feasibility, and/or viability of Burrow’s theory of insanity. In fact, this discussion must rather be seen as an effort to open up renewed interest in a global phenomenon that is in need of enthusiastic scientific attention and research. The author also has the audacity to venture into and take a shot at the direction future enquiries may go, but no claim is made that is exhaustive or the only option open to new knowledge and insight into the topic under review.
1.0 Why a fresh focus has become imminent
Severe mental derangement has been with mankind from the earliest times imaginable and literally hundreds of theories have been put forward to trace and explain its causes and origin. Needless to say that none of these proposals have given any satisfactory and definitive answers to account for a complex and seemingly unfathomable phenomenon.(1 Any new perspectives on this millennium-old phenomenon may just help to set renewed research on this topic active and stimulate renewed interest and enthusiasm in the ranks of our competent colleagues to come up with definitive answers. In the meantime I shall do my best to present the reader with the essential background information on the topic in order to get the research ball going. No claims are made that this account of the proposed theories is all one needs or that this limited info is all-embracing, tested for reliability, and validity by the author; or for that matter to be accepted as viable propositions.
2.0 Ancient explanations for mental derangement
According to James Hastings, et al(2 ancient Semitic Demonology recognized a host of spirits, most of which were probably regarded as hostile. An important class of these was embodied in animals, especially in animals found in lonely places: in deserts, among tombs, and in ruined houses, such as serpents, satyrs, and the night hag. Very diverse occurrences were ascribed to these demons: unnatural happenings or mischance, as well as sickness, madness, and death.
At a later stage the range of demonic beings was increased under the influence of Judaism, which introduced the notion of a host of graded demonic spirits, attributed to cause all ills, moral and physical alike. They came to be organized under Satan, the fallen angel, but one that can never pose an ultimate threat to God’s supremacy and overriding power.
In the Christian Bible the Synoptic Gospels represent the demons primarily as producing physical evils, like for example madness.(3
2.1 Exorcism, early practice
Apart from banning and isolating those possessed by demons and consequently branding them as deranged or mad people, many efforts were made to expel the evil spirits from the possessed body by the performance of certain rites accompanied by the invocation of a holy name. An early example of an exorcism in the making is seen when David made an attempt to expel Saul’s melancholia by means of music. Thus, incantations became a marked feature of exorcism.(4
2.2 Exorcism, later development
To this day there are still many church-goers that believe people may be possessed by demons and the only way to rid them of the evil spirit is to get a pastor or a priest to undertake an exorcism.
2.3 The ancient Greeks apparently knew how
to apply a litmus test for madness(5
r Odysseus was the hero of the epic poetry called the Odyssey.
r Odysseus, the King of Ithaca, was identified as Ulysses by the Romans.
r He was perhaps the most untypical and complex hero in Greek mythology.
r Odysseus was a great fighter and superb athlete.
r He was undoubtedly brave, yet Homer also emphasized that he was also the shrewdest and the most prudent leader in the war against Troy. In the Odyssey, he was shown as an extremely resourceful hero.
Agamemnon and Menelaus were gathering men, they found that one of the
prophecies was that
r He tried to feign madness by ploughing a field with an ox and ass, sowing salt instead of seeds.
r One of Agamemnon's lieutenants, Palamedes, who was just as cunning as Odysseus, knew that Odysseus was feigning to be mad.
r Palamedes snatched Odysseus' baby boy, Telemachus, from his mother, Penelope, and put the infant in front of the path of the plough.
r To avoid
the animals from trampling his son to death, Odysseus was forced to turn the
animals to one side, thereby revealing that he was not mad at all. Odysseus had
little choice but set out for
the Greeks arrived at
r Odysseus died of old age. His death signified the end of the Heroic Age.
Naturalistic school of medical thought in
The thoughts expressed by this school go back roughly to 600 B.C. It was based on the science of, among others, Pythagoras (580-510); Alcmaeon (550-500 B.C.); Empedocles ((490-430 B.C.), and Hippocrates (approx. 460 -377 B.C.), honored for his formulation of the ‘Hippocratic Oath’, to this day solemnly administered by practitioners of medicine and the healing arts. While Pythagoras and his pupil Alcmaeon had identified the brain as the organ of the mind, and mental illness as a brain disorder, Empedocles had introduced certain famous explanatory principles. Chief among these was the qualities of heat, cold, moisture, dryness, and the humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile).
Thus it got accepted practice to consider and explain delirium as various aspects of special functions of the brain. Hysteria, mania, and melancholia were recognized, described, and prescribed with psychiatric care. Psychiatry thus constituted an important division of the developing field of medical science. This goes hand in hand with the recognition and identification of insanity as a disease.
3.0 Some other historical views on mental derangement
According to Vold(7 the distinction between insanity and criminality becomes evident when one considers how difficult it has been and still is to exercise control over the dangerous, disapproved of, and often outrageous behavior of the criminal and the mentally and emotionally disturbed members of society.
Historically the two groups were indistinguishable and treated alike by the authorities, simply because of the belief that the influence of or domination by evil spirits, or the devil, inspired or activated the repulsive behavior and alternatively, that demonology as a system of thought provided adequate proof for either crime or insanity.
Burrow contends that the real difference between behavior which is defined as ‘good’ and behavior defined as ‘bad’ lies in the eyes of the observer and does not represent a real difference that is amenable to quantification and measurement. Thus one finds ‘bad’ criminals walking free in the community, while so-called ‘good’ citizens are incarcerated for acts branded as ‘bad’ behavior.(8
However, doctors and psychiatrists soon came to realize that insanity like delirium is centralized to the brain. Identification of insanity as a disease thus became more general, not as a blameworthy condition, but rather as an affliction for which the patient needed to be treated and not punished.
The spill-over to jurisprudence also became evident. Courts of law began to recognize the lack of responsibility of children for their behavior, no matter how outrageous or dangerous that might have been. Thus under English Common Law (A.D. 1216-72) children under the age of seven could not commit felonies, because they were considered incapable of mens rea: of having guilty minds, and of knowing the difference between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
Vold(9 says that for English and American jurisprudence, the rule was formally established in connection with the famous McNaghten case in 1843. The question of the sanity or insanity of the accused before the court, hinges on whether (1) the accused was capable of what he was doing and of his understanding whether that which he was doing was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; and (2) in determining the responsibility of the accused who reportedly experienced delusional facts, these delusional facts are recognized as ‘real’ for the accused.
As a matter of fact, for English and American jurisprudence, the state of the mind of the accused, presumably at the time of his dastardly act, was gauged by the court (judge and jury), not by that of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, or other so-called ‘experts’. Once a decision has been made the ‘sane’ criminal is forthwith committed to prison for his behavior for which he is held responsible and accountable. On the other hand the person declared insane is confined in a mental hospital where the professional services of psychologists, psychiatrists and medical doctors are regularly available.
Vold(10 pointed out that in the everyday task of applying the legal distinction between insanity and crime the problem naturally becomes most acute, not in connection with the obvious gross disorders, but in the case of the marginal areas of conduct, as can be witnessed in some cases:
The individual involved is . . .
r stramge or different but not irrational or crazy
r rational but foolishly non-dependable and irresponsible
r rational but odiously immoral and offensively indecent
r rational, thoughtful, and intelligent, but unconscionably indifferent to the well-being of others.
According to Vold these aberrant cases spawned quite a number of colorful terminology, such as monomania, dipsomania, moral insanity, moral paresis, constitutional psychopathic types, psychopathic personality types, and many others - terms that have largely disappeared nowadays. He quoted the case of
Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield. The principle defense was that of moral insanity, in the case of a man otherwise obviously intelligent, rational, and capable of carrying out a planned and deliberate course of action. However, Guiteau was convicted and executed. The rule of law prevailed: depravity, viciousness, perversity, and all manner of ‘queer’ behavior, if not associated with irrationality, must be considered as the behavior of a sane
4.0 Recent considerations in our courts of criminal law(12
This now leaves us with some recent considerations in our courts of criminal law, when the focus is on the State’s intention to proof that a murder has been committed
beyond reasonable doubt. Example: A instructed B and C to eliminate, kill D .
In this case it means that a) the rule of law prevails;
b) proof prevails over presumption; and c) the other side is also heard
If the perpetrator of murder is prosecuted in a court of criminal law for murder the State has to proof beyond any reasonable doubt that the suspect measures up to the following criteria: (a) actus reus: there is an element of action in the crime): (i) there is no room for emotional considerations; (ii) ethical and moral guilt are side-lined and totally ignored; therefore (iii) the suspect’s act was not performed under coercion, duress, or command; (b) A is guilty of the crime when the court finds that A committed an illegal (unlawful, or wrongful) act: no crime without consciousness of illegality; (c) A killed a human being; (d) he does not qualify for mens rea: the act does not render the perpetrator inculpable or criminally irresponsible, or unaccountable for the crime. Unless he was conscious of its illegality, he is guilty because his objective was to harm, injure, or kill the victim; the act was performed with his consent, therefore it prejudiced him: he who acts through another is considered to act himself; he who has given the mandate to act is considered to have done it himself; he who desires the end desires the means; (e) A did not act in self-defense and his defense of necessity is overruled because a state of emergency was not proclaimed at the time of the murder; and (f) if A had guilty knowledge at the time of his criminal act, or if he was aware of the unlawfulness of his act, he is guilty as charged. Mere denial of fact constitutes no proof, but in general the onus or burden of proof rests on the party affirming.
A’s case shows that his act of murder complies with two elements of deliberate intent: one, the will and desire to kill the targeted person; and two, the knowledge that the attack would be illegal and wrong. In crimes the intention is looked to, not the outcome. However, in the case of evil deeds regard is had to the result and not to the intention of the act.
All in this entire scenario meets the requirements in the hearing of sane violators of the law. However, it may oftentimes happen that insanity is discovered or pleaded where seemingly sane persons’ cases are heard and decided with the result that the court may change its course to switch over to an insanity-hearing procedure. Thus the suspect’s advocate may present expert testimony as to its client’s insane mindset during the alleged perpetration of the
crime in question: id est. that his client cannot be held responsible and accountable for the crime.
5.0 Another past view on mental derangement
5,1 Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909)
Vold(13 renders an interesting and comprehensive account of
Lombroso’s contribution to another, though somewhat flawed and
questionable explanation and understanding of the origin of
the criminal, and the relationship between crimes, epilepsy,
insanity, and degeneracy as a whole, id est. a type of man
more primitive and savage than its civilized counterpart.
In general his theory coincides with
(1871), designed to show that man was the same general kind of
creature as the rest of the animal world, except that he was more
highly evolved or developed, and therefore displaying more skill
and ability than his lower counterparts.
In his book, L’uomo deliquente (The Criminal Man) 1876, he
affirmed the atavistic origin of the born criminal and suggested a
close relationship between crime, and various other maladies,
Lombroso(14 30. maintains that there are three major classes of criminals:
(1) born criminals, or atavistic reversions to a lower or more primitive evolutionary form of development, estimated to constitute about one-third of the total number of offenders; he portrays the reversions as having the same inborn characteristics as their primitive forebears: men were born murderers and rapists while their womenfolk were whores;
(2) insane criminals: idiots, imbeciles, paranoiacs, sufferers from melancholia, those afflicted with general paralysis, dementia, alcoholism, epilepsy, or hysteria; and
(3) criminaloids, a large general class of those without physical stigmata, who are not afflicted with recognizable mental disorders, but whose mental and emotional make-up are such that under certain circumstances they indulge in vicious and criminal behavior.
Vold(15 concludes that by the time of Lombroso’s death in 1909, it was abundantly evident that, despite his overall popularity in academic circles,
his theories were too simple and naïve to withstand the tests of time.
6.1 Content analysis
Adapting Berelson’s classification I provide a few reasons for content analysis in connection with sustained revisits to Burrow’s theory:(16
Content analysis may perhaps be undertaken to . . .
1. trace the origin and development of mental derangement
2. describe trends in research objectives
3. disclose international differences in trends
4. construct and supply diagnostic standards
5. aid future researchers technically
6. gauge attitudes towards mental derangement
7. reflect cultural patterns of the population at large
8. utilize a dimensional view of derangement in order to define, describe, explain, and predict the real movers and shakers behind the ebb and flow of the phenomenon.
A future dimensional view of mental derangement may highlight the definition, description, explanation, and prediction of the phenomenon satisfactorily or at least to such an extent that the authorities can be able to institute effective control measures for security, safety, and treatment prescriptions for correctly-diagnosed cases. A suggested set of dimensions is given below, with the express reiteration that this only serves as a hypothetical effort at inspiring our efficient, upcoming scientists to address the conundrum.
Nowadays the somewhat conservative definition of the dimension concept has been liberalized to include whatever dimensions the scientist wants to add on to those familiar ones. Thus we can view all the different shapes we are able to construct with the aid of the four dimensions mentioned above as valid dimensions, for example rectangles, triangles, volumes, and the like. Likewise we can construct symbolic dimensions for any social, spiritual, economic, or medical concept, where the concept dimension takes on the meaning of perspective, facets, kaleidoscopic reflections, angled view, slant, viewpoint, or intersection.
We are here called upon to consider man’s consciousness or interference as part and parcel of Einstein’s formula by means of which he explains that energy is a function of mass and the speed of light raised to the power of 2.
Rationale for a functional view adopted in the search for a reliable and
valid means to define, describe, explain, predict, and control the ebb
and flow of mental derangement in the rank and fashion as well as
the rank and file of mankind at large
May be all of us are familiar with the four identified dimensions in natural science, called length, breadth, depth, and time-space. Albert Einstein introduced the time-space concept in order to justify the validity of his famous formula by means of which he explains that energy is a function of two independent variables (mass and the squared speed of light, which translates into a speed of 186 000 miles per second, or 300 000 kilometres per second through space: E = M x C2. Because certain scientists and technological experts succeeded in splitting the atom, we may now alter the equation as follows:
E = I(M x C2).(17
6.2 A bid to propound some protocols for future theories, based on dimensional perceptions, that may enable scientists to describe, explain, predict, and control mental derangement
A cursory study of the nature, functions, classification, and scope of the accumulated knowledge gathered over centuries by, among others, eminent investigators and scientists, reveals astonishing and mind-boggling findings, in-depth notions, and a rich variety of relationships between different maladies and afflictions, as well as records of known cases of lunatic behavior, more stranger than fiction. See for instance the comprehensive handbook on psychiatry by Kaplan and Sadock: Synopsis of Psychiatry, 1998.(18
The very first obstacle the present author has come across, and one that has proved to be insurmountable, is found in a stormy sea of thousands ideas and notions of the origin, nature, and scope of mental disturbance, and its impact on the patient and his/her relatives and friends, as well as how to classify and interpret the different types, dimensions, and kinds of cases.
This observation may allow a researcher at least the freedom and scope to come up with the idea of concentrating on the dimensions displayed by the malady as well as the concomitant disorders shown by youths, and to define these perceptively, either as dimensions of, or as signs of the imminent commencement of mental aberrations. Of course, this proves to be a rather simple idea to be constructed as a catchment area and safety net for all the myriad of kaleidoscopic suspect cases and people suffering from mental disorders. Moreover, it can be argued that this application of this KISS-principle is preposterous and that some effort should have been made to employ Ockham’s razor much more reliably – where the principle aim is urging the simplest and sparing use of terms and assumptions to argue or to explain the study object.
However, after all is said and done, one pertinent fact prevails: there are two scientific options open to theorists at this stage: one, to string together a makeshift theory which accommodates thirty or more variables without any functional anchor; or two, regard the concept dimension (or any other concept) as a function of at least five definitive variables: in other words, for example where the dynamic strength of the patient’s dimensional needs are probed to determine how these relevant influences interacted with the patient’s mindset: id est. how the patient’s mindset has interacted with his or her genetic make-up, biological issues, temperamental reality, primary needs, and secondary motivation:-
(i) genetic makeup;
(ii) temperamental makeup;
(iii) biological makeup;
(iv) primary gains; and
(v) secondary gains;(19
and how the strength of these so-called dimensions of insanity has been relatively rated by an investigator, or by a panel of judges.
6.3 Analytical definition of the dimensional types
At this stage of my enquiry into the quantification of the different dimensions, identified to gauge the relative strength of each, it seems to me that the genetic makeup or any other dimension of the mentally deranged patients mentioned supra, is still not properly researched and mapped. As an alternative we are obliged to quote from Kaplan and Sadock some of the most prominent features of each dimension, in an effort to hit those that would represent a valid and reliable description and definition of the dimension in question.
6.4 Defining the various proposed dimensions
a) Genetic make-up (GM) (comprising information about previous episodes of illness; medications taken recently or at present; personal habits and occupational history of the patient are considered in the absence of genetic markers that may represent aberrations):
(i) previous signs of mental derangement
(ii) suicidal tendencies
(iii) a criminal record
(iv) institutionalization for psychological problems
(v) alcohol and drug abuse.
b) Temperamental make-up (TM) (comprising immature elements of mental development and the patient’s incapacity to experience an objective reaction and response to what he or she perceives, thus expressing irrational and vague awareness of its real substance and meaning):
(i) affect (appropriate to labile); other emotions (anxiety, fear, agitation,
(ii) mood (depression, elation, anger, mood swings)
(iii) thinking (mental disorder, psychosis, reality testing, formal thought
disorder, illogical thinking)
(iv) specific disturbances (delusion – ball types: bizarre, mood incongruent,
nihilistic, somatic, paranoid, persecution, grandeur, hypochondria, obsession,
compulsion, phobia, noesis)
(v) perception (hallucination - all types, delirium tremens, illusion).
c) Biological make-up (BM) (represented by physiological disturbances, associated with mood and mood swings displayed by the patient; but once established, mood and mood swings are or seem to be absent; this is also associated with a history of head injury
that may cause progressive dementia with extra pyramidal symptoms(19 family history of illnesses; and specific physical complaints;):
(i) fatigue, terminal insomnia
(ii) motor behavior (catatonia, waxy flexibility, akinesia, negativism, stereotyping,
automatism, tremor, aggression, muscle rigidity, seizure)
(iii) disturbances in speech (pressure of speech, volubility, poverty, stuttering,
cluttering) features primary and
(iv) aphasic disturbances (motor, sensory and others)
(v) delirium caused by proprietary drugs.
d) Primary gain front
Kaplan and Sadock define primary gain as follows:
‘Patients achieve primary gain by keeping internal conflicts outside their awareness. Symptoms have symbolic value in that they represent an unconscious psychological conflict.’ Internal conflicts are thus destined to be hidden in the fourth quadrant of the patient’s mind, well away from prying eyes and probing exploration. The most one could do to assess its impact, is to venture an educated guess about its relevant strength in competing for a place on the continuum in question (see 4.2.2 below: content analysis).
e) Secondary gain front
Kaplan and Sadock define secondary gain as follows:
‘Patients accrue tangible advantages and benefits as a result of their being sick, such as being excused from obligations and difficult life situations, receiving support and assistance that might not otherwise be forthcoming, and controlling other people’s behavior.’ As such the manifestations of secondary gain are not hidden, or carefully monitored by the patient; it spills over from his or her enthusiasm to get the most out of the situation they find them in at the moment and bears no directly-observable connection with their supposedly mental derangement.)
6.5 Future quantification or rating of the various proposed
dimensions by a panel of available experts
At this stage it may become necessary to add numerical values to the relevant strength of each proposed dimension so as to ascertain its combined impact on the patient and the aggregate impact of a group of patients on other groups or on the so-called ‘normal’ population at large.
6.6 Imaginary rating scale applied in an imaginary exercise
for demonstration purposes
We furthermore suggest that the imaginary scale projected here, can be used as a Guttman-type or ordinal scale (which comes about by isotonic grouping) -- a dimension scale by means of which one may roughly describe, explain, and predict the ebb and flow of mental derangement; as well as utilizing the information gained to suggest control measures to keep its movement in check.(23
By now we should be content to abandon any further attempt at speculating how future inquiries into mental derangement should be approached and treated.
Next we attempt to describe a person’s mindset in relation to what and how much knowledge seems to be available for inquiry into derangement by means of the Johari Window.
6.7 Johari Window
A dimensional view of any person’s thoughts, emotions, feelings, or motivation has rarely been done before, since it is an accepted fact that some knowledge about the person is well guarded and hidden from prying eyes and eager ears. However, as is shown presently, science has devised ways and means to circumvent these seemingly unassailable obstacles and firewalls with some success.
However, it must first of all be asserted that the two variables which seem to play a key role in the dynamic interaction between the mental deranged patient and his physician are a) self-insight; and b) self-deception.
The so-called ‘Johari Window’ portrays the mindset of the patient and pinpoints those areas in his mind where self-insight and self-deception operates as information sources. As such, self-insight and self-deception are two important functions of mental derangement, especially during the start-up phase of the illness at early ages.
Next we have a closer look at the four windows of our minds or four quadrants as brilliantly portrayed by Luft, 1970, and quoted by Wilhelm and Jacky Jordaan.(23
This window of one’s mind allows others to accumulate knowledge and insight about one that one is quite unaware of, because it happens to open up on one’s ‘blind’ side. Positive and negative things can be said about the person in question, for example, that he takes after his mother who spent her last days in a sanatorium; nevertheless, he is a very nice guy despite his quirky moments, now and then. The information accumulated by others may be a source of embarrassment for the person, especially when used to label him as a ‘queer’ or ‘mad’ guy.
This window stays open to oneself and to others alike and allows one to share accumulated knowledge of oneself with others, for example, that one is exceptionally clever and genial, and that one has a knack for building and inventing things like miniature aircraft. However, sometimes one becomes very moody and sidelines one from others without any apparent reason at all.
This window remains tightly shut to others, while the information in here is well-known to the person himself. This information is carefully guarded by being stored away in a hidden agenda, or being mummified by packs of lies and deceit fronts. Disclosure of such information is taboo, because it may cause embarrassment or even rejection of the person.
As being pointed out above self-insight and self-deception are two important functions of mental derangement, especially during the start-up phase of the illness at early ages. The problem starts when these variables are isolated and encased in the Third Quadrant of one’s mind. In order to build and develop a healthy mind and body the Third Quadrant ought to oust all shreds of self-deception and warped insight from a youthful age onwards, otherwise the person runs the risk of stagnating and accumulating a mountain of wrong impressions and deceitful relationships with others.
It is the job of the psychologist and psychiatrist to unearth and sift through all the rubbish to arrive at some understanding of the mindset of the patient.
Quadrant Four presents the biggest problem to those who set forth to probe the mind of the mental patient. Everything in here is unavailable and apparently under lock and key. The information stored here is not available, either to the patient or to others who dare to send out probes by means of which they hope to salvage something of importance that may help them to define and understand insanity. This quadrant represents the dark side of life, too painful to bring into the open for all to see and hoo-hah about.
6.8 Trigant Burrow’s proposals to pry the windows open
Burrow starts his argument by telling us those students of science whose function it is to investigate actual material as it presents itself to immediate observation, neither agree nor disagree as to its meaning, because their material is not dependent for its meaning upon a word or an idea.(24
Once this principle is fully comprehended, it is easy to note that the material itself determines its meaning. What the observer should focus on is the subject, putting as it were his eyes to the lens of his microscope and let the subject reveal by means of his actions what goes on in the dark side of his life. Next in line it has become apparent that man has reached a stage in his development in which it has become necessary for him to study and examine his own mental processes (id est. by means of Wundt’s method of analytical introspection,(25) especially with a view to rid his mindset of traditional social and cultural attitudes and prejudices that may bedevil his observation and understanding of the real issues at hand. The fact remains that the observer is very apt and prone to think with the concepts and ideas internalized from his upbringing and background learning and conditioning exercises. It is not by all means easy to free him or her of this baggage.
Time and again the investigator finds him/her in a veritable maze, obliged to use words and concepts that carry perhaps only an inkling of the meaning he/she wants to put across. They refrain from coining new concepts because they have been brought up to respect the English vernacular, their dear mother tongue and proud tradition as such. So, who cares? In any case, their promoter or guardian wants them to use words and ideas which are currently in vogue.
We now turn to Burrow to learn what solutions he has to offer to solve the problem.
6.8.1 Burrow says man’s problem is an ecological one(26
The author explains that it is easy for man to focus his objective interest or attention on his study object in front of him. If, however, he turns to his own social and economic processes which are subjectively wrapped up in interactions and interrelations with others, there is a deflection of function and a deviation of interest. This phenomenon may then be translated into an impairment of the organism’s primary function of attention, affecting as it were man’s natural facility of observation and rapport; as well as man’s functioning in business and industrial enterprise.
6.8.2 Defining and explaining the process of attention or concentration of interest(27
According to Burrow the process of attention entails specific vaso-motor, muscular, visceral, and neural alterations (change, shifts, modifications, adaptations, or transformations). Attention has its substrate in or is based on physiological tensions and strains inasmuch as it is affected by the (internal) vascular, neural, glandular, and muscular systems of the organism. Viewed as a mental experience, attention translated into the two processes described below: perception and apperception are the operative concepts here.
6.8.3 The feeling-life of man is still caught up in a gestation period
Next the author quotes from a statement by Clarence Shields(28assistant secretary of The Lifwynn Foundation for Laboratory Research in Analytic and Social Psychiatry, who maintains that ‘… the feeling-life of man has not yet reached an end in its biological development.’ It simply means that it has stalled in childhood, and has not as yet come into maturity. Thus man’s feelings are not reliable and valid, but are still caught up in a gestation period.
It may furthermore be deduced that we are somewhat at a loss to use our so-called power of perception as a reliable laboratory lens to pry open the so-called dark side of the ‘insane’ patient’s mind: first because we use the wrong or incorrect tools to do so; and second because we work on the assumption that the ‘patient’ is indeed ‘mentally deranged’ or apt to display definite signs and symptoms of ‘insanity’, however defined by us.
Burrow(28 draws a line of sharp distinction between two observation techniques: perception, that may be defined as ‘perceiving, observing, or apprehending the external characteristics and nature of a thing through the sight or other sense-organs’; and apperception, that may be defined as perception-plus: the science of perceiving, observing, or apprehending a thing externally as well as internally by probing its real substance and meaning; thus uncovering its real impact on life. To this extent perception is our sheer reaction to what we see and experience subjectively, while apperception is seen as our directive and insightful capacity to comprehend hidden truths objectively. Burrow(29 avers that we have to deal with two fundamental laws as the basis of our reasoning and subsequent action: one, the sheer reaction of perception; and two, the directive reaction of apperception. While perception is subordinated to the caprice of the symbol, apperception subordinates itself to the discipline of observable organization and meaning.
These views represent a notion that we as scientists are capable of extracting the essential inner nature of concepts such as jealousy, love, or enterprise; although we haven’t any clue what they look like.(30 The author forthwith proposes a methodology that regards attention as a physiological process that underlies the behaviour of man as a race or phylum(31 where phylum is a biological taxonomic rank below kingdom, comprising a class or classes and subordinate taxa.
Being at a loss to apply the technique of apperception successfully us shall be obliged next to resort to the less appropriate and off-the-mark technique of perception in our bid to come up with a new theory, explaining to us how to deal with insanity.
7.0 A structural-functional theory of insanity/mental
derangement suggested by Burrow(32
Burrow’s ideas about the structure of insanity have not been met with cheers of admiration, The well-established and learned modern society of psychiatrists and psychologists have shown no intention whatsoever to accept the farfetched idea of a) a world populated with insane people; nor of b) the inability of professionals to beg the diagnostic questions and cause-and-effect explanations being researched; while they succeeded in adequately utilizing the effective application of the correct therapy or medication needed to cure the affliction in question.
Apart from this it would turn out to be a sad day when mankind decides to abandon its well-established and well-accepted ways and means to deal with its identified deranged squad. Over the years, since Burrow came up with his portrayal of a mad world, there has been a significant shift in the perspective of man in regard to the seriousness and degree of threat posed by yesteryear’s definition of the sane-insane situation. It has become evident in that fewer and fewer people are diagnosed as being mentally deranged and destined to be institutionalized for treatment. Moreover the courts of criminal law are not so keen anymore to set aside the suspect’s responsibility and accountability by referring them to psychiatric institutions for clinical evaluation and treatment.
Burrow has ventured into an area of prominent concern and worry in order to describe and explain mental derangement or insanity in a globalized or universal perspective. The title of his book The structure of insanity (1932) reflects his thoughts on the eventual evolution of man at a homo-erectus and homo sapiens stage of development where his upright posture has robbed him of a fully developed attention span and mature and complete awareness and consciousness of his own feeling-life and those of his kinships and adversaries.
7.1 Morphological causation(33
Burrow assumes that inter-relations factors which represent the pool of alterations and disturbances that had occurred within man in the course of his functional evolution as a species are the basic cause of the morphological change or alteration of his biological and mental structural-functional adaptation from the pronograde to the erect posture. He reaches the conclusion that the over-activity of the brain of man has caused an overgrowth of the encephalon. This is without a doubt a morphological alteration that affects the organism of man as a race. Apart from this phenomenon there also exist morphological alterations due to inter-relations which are internal to the organism as a whole. Furthermore Burrow asserts that phylogenetic researches offer evidence that within the neural structures of man as a species or phylum there exist certain morphological modifications which are now habitually reflected in man’s mental and social reactions.(34
Burrow refrains from pinpointing these factors for demonstrable purposes, although he asserts that ‘…in the midst of this very unsettling state of affairs – a state of affairs in which we find ourselves habitually dealing with appearances instead of with actualities, in which we assume that we have a definite objective appreciation of reactions as observable phenomena at all and when we have no direct appreciation of them whatsoever – the only solution is to return to the morphological seat of this malfunction within our own processes and to examine this pathological deflection in its primary, physiological expression.(35
Burrow points out that all infants have been conditioned to one overriding symbol, called ‘good’, which is to cover all conditions affecting the behaviour of man. ‘Good’ conduct is contrasted with conduct symbolized as ‘bad’. ‘This admonitory conduct, unlike the physiological behaviour of the organism, whether of man or animal, had no definable meaning. It was a haphazard provision for regulating human behaviour which rested upon no demonstrable data.(35The relativity of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels has no reliable and valid application. Despite this discrepancy the belief in the validity and correctness of the concept has survived the ravages of time and prevails fostered in communities for ages on end. The mechanism through which the concept has been perpetuated is known as the ‘I’ , a social substantive element that comprises the identity of man and serves as a yardstick whenever pairs of alternative ideas are judged, such as jealousy or trust, love or hate, anger and good-will, and law-abiding and lawlessness.
Burrow describes the ‘I’ as being tenacious, acting as an autocratic arbiter of its own process, and is very confused in its attempts to regain the organic authorship of its own primary feeling-states. Burrow’s panacea for this conundrum is simply that man concentrates on the physiological recovery of his total internal feeling behaviour; otherwise man will bypass the opportunity to advance in the direction of scientific adherence to organic order.(36
7.2 Some problems in respect of feeling-states(37
According to Burrow there are two neural systems or tracts that underlie these two species of attention. He says the first consists in the shorter arc that connects the optical and auditory receptors with one another and with the speech organs of the throat, mouth and larynx; a system which has as its seat chiefly in the proencephalon or cerebrum of man forming the substrate of the partitive or symbolic mechanism of attention.
The second of the two arcs or systems is the more extensive, complex channel for the transmission of stimuli. They extend through the centers of the medulla and the diencephalons, allowing the stimuli conducted along its fibers to pass into the visceral, vaso-motor, lymphatic and involuntary muscular systems through the ramifications of the sympathetic and vagus nerves (either of the tenth pair of cranial nerves with branches to the heart, lungs, and viscera) – a network of nerve structures which thus mediates connection between the total organism and the outside world.
Both these types of attention enter into our inter-individual social reactions. They establish an inner rapport with outer conditions, which should mediate our senses toward making a healthy, functioning society of human beings.
Taking heed of the attention dilemma in which we find ourselves, we have only one option to exploit: id est. to hunt for the most important problems experienced in the mindset of humans in world populations and to relate these problems to the general well-being of man at large.
The first system is quite intact in relating the organism to its symbolic environment. The second one is no less intact in mediating the relationship of the organism as a whole to the whole environment.
But Burrow warns that the rub comes, when, in the physiological mediation of the organism’s rapport with the environment, man confuses these two species of reaction, id est. causing a mix-up between the two systems.
We now realize to what extent the social health of the human race depends upon the integrity of the neural inter-reaction of man’s subjective function of attention.
Burrow is adamant about the outcome. He avers that ‘… there needs no special ambassador from the ranks of religion, science or politics come to tell us that society to-day is far from being a healthy functioning aggregate of coordinated elements or individuals. There needs no oracle to reveal to us that society throughout presents, in fact, the unmistakable symptoms of discord, ill-adaptation and disease.’(38
He further contends that man as a social being functions far more inefficiently (as a broken organism) than his more primitive counterparts who function with greater ease and internal co-ordination. The reason for this phenomenon is to be found in the fact that the ‘. . . individual has not become artificially quarantined as an affect-social-substantive.(39
Even more devastating is my own critique of man’s irrationality, is the fact that there are as yet no normal standards, valid benchmarks, or definable morphological criteria available to define, describe, or explain mental derangement adequately and comprehensibly. Thus we live in societies that do not protect socially-defined outcasts let alone sufficiently cater for their needs.
Burrow is able, willing and keen to spot the social symptoms of ‘ . . . world-wide pain and futility, of economic distress, of industrial desperation, together with the endless repetition of insignificant palliatives that represent purely peripheral, symbolic and dialectic intermediations – all these are evidences of man’s generic social pathology and plainly attest the community’s kinship in a community-wide disorder.’(40
Following Burrow’s line of reasoning and respecting his bottom-line conclusion, an attempt is now made to produce some evidence and demonstrative showcases to bolster the idea that the entire world in which mankind lives experiences some form of madness as defined perceptively, but discovered apperceptively by Burrow, as we explain supra. At least two levels of maladaptation are in evidence of the perceived and apperceived mental disturbance in adults and the onset of mental derangement in youths. These topical variables do not, however, constitute an exhausted list of possible afflictions and malfunctions, but only serve as demonstrative examples of the mental disturbances and derangement in question.
8.0 Two levels of maladjustment and maladaptation peculiar to modern-day behaviour
According to my way of thinking the following conditions provide some demonstration of the precarious position of the world population’s ill-health and distorted attention dimension which Burrow probably has in mind:
8.1 A universal (irrevocable pathological) level of maladaptation and maladjustment
Maladaptation or maladjustment of man’s attention and ability to correctly define his relationship with and inner feelings towards others, is beyond his grasp and comprehension. It is a given, an unalterable fact of life, and one that defies change and alteration.
8.1.1 Permanent damage and scars to cranium
Man suffers from permanent damage and scars to his cranium because of the changes that came about within him in the course of his functional-structural evolution as a species, portrayed as the basic cause of the morphological change or alteration of his biological and mental structural-functional adaptation from the pronograde to the erect posture.
8.1.2 Maladapted attention to real threats
Man finds it difficult, if not impossible, to recognize real threats, just because he is apt to judge his adversary through a lens of perception, thus responding most of the time invalidly. On the other hand he has not as yet mastered the apperception technique by means of which he would be able to focus through a reliable lens, spotting as he does so the real and unadulterated meaning and intent of his wrongly-defined ‘friend’ or ‘enemy.
8.1.3 Unsuccessful intellectual response
Evidence abounds to suggest that the ability and capacity of man at large to apply and to learn flawlessly and consistently from his a) problem-solving intelligence; b) creative intelligence; c) social adaptation intelligence; and d) emotional adjustment intelligence, is quite beyond his reach. People are apt to live a lie, and are first and foremost in desecrating the truth and to tell lies to cover their tracks.
The elements of corruption are prominently in evidence to strengthen our belief that a serious disturbance of the mindset of a sizable group of mankind is nowadays on the cards: opportunity to be corrupt; a strong need to get rich by fleecing others; no authoritative control or mechanisms which are strong enough to prevent corruption or to identify, arrest, prosecute, and punish those that have overstepped the legal limits; and tragically, adamant denial that anything unlawful has been committed. There is also a tendency by our authorities to sanitize or angelize criminals (id est. to announce the benediction of an accused who is suspected of being guilty of a crime, whether petty or violent (but not regarded as guilty unless he or she is found guilty and convicted by a competent criminal court; or given the opportunity to enter into plea bargaining). Also very startling is the tendency NOT to find a criminal guilty unless he or she has made a public confession of being guilty as charged. One can only speculate that this tendency is fed with the fear of reprisal by the criminal or his cronies, friends and family members.
8.1.4 Man’s built-in obsolescence
Built-in obsolescence of human traits and characteristics is best defined as an acquired weakness or debilitation by homo erectus when he adopted his new locomotive style of moving from point A to point B – a novel style that makes him permanently susceptible to irrationalities, such as certain physical and mindset illnesses, including most of the so-called psycho-somatic maladies; as well as absurd definitions of situations and warped adjustments to real or imagined survival threats – a sure predictive sign of his eventual collapse and downfall.
The sad bottom line of man’s evolution from the pronograde to his homo-erectus posture is that this state of ill-health is irreversible for now, except for the fact that man may bargain on the hope that further evolutionary developments over millenniums could just succeed in rectifying this shameful imperfection.
These built-in imperfections are also the movers and shakers that have brought down civilizations and leaders over the ages.
In this regard we turn our attention to mankind’s portrayal of ‘normality’ as seen through the lenses of crime commitment, historical growth, research statistics, population distribution, and the distributions of other sample elements.
This so-called normal distribution features among others in the
graphic portrayal of many kinds of sets which are traditionally
researched to bring out hidden differences and similarities
between the elements in a particular set or among groups of
elements that are selected for better understanding of and
insight into their nature, structure, and function.
126.96.36.199 Man’s built-in obsolescence
Kinds of ‘normal distributions’ 1.0
distribution’ of crimes according to Ruth Cavan 2.0
distribution’ of growth 3.0
distribution’ of population parameters 4.0
distribution’ of research
188.8.131.52 Man’s built-in obsolescence
r Kinds of ‘normal distributions’
1.0 A ‘normal distribution’ of crimes according to Ruth Cavan
2.0 A ‘normal distribution’ of growth
3.0 A ‘normal distribution’ of population parameters
4.0 A ‘normal distribution’ of research statistics
184.108.40.206 The so-called ‘normal’ concept
If the arbitrary definition and subsequent quantification of the categories are
seen and judged from the Burrow’s point of view, we shall have to conclude that
any other definition or quantification shares the same reliable and valid level as
those that come afterwards as substitutes of the originals. Thus we may
conclude that we live in a quasi social-scientific world, beset and plagued by
irrational customs and beliefs.
8.2 Natural level of maladaptation and maladjustment
The natural level of maladaptation and maladjustment falls within
man’s power to avoid or change. Although it is difficult and in the
long run seemingly impossible for individuals to work against market
forces, or to change their destinies, health, wealth, or social status,
one has the freedom to choose a desired modus operandi at will
and to work towards his goal attainment with zest and determination.
8.2.1 Seemingly permanent world-wide differences in (amongst others) between economics, lifestyles, cultures, politics, religions, and other so-called super-structures
One example follows:
One Global Economy, two sets of rules(44
William J. Holstein, editor-in-chief of Chief Executive Magazine gets answers to some thorny questions about our global economy from Clyde Prestowitz, author of “Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East”, and contends that there are two sets of rules featuring in this regard:
There are two different concepts of globalization:
One is based on the American experience, which is one of a democratic country under the rule of law, holding to market principles and market forces where the objective is to improve consumer welfare, comparative advantage, and free trade that maximizes consumer wealth.
The second is view based on Asian thought that concentrates on strategic trade and export-led production in order to achieve trade surpluses and larger dollar reserves while suppressing consumption.
According to Prestowitz the upshot of the incongruence is a distorted global economy.
What the author wants us to realize is that the world is still divided by sharp lines of resistance and cultural and socio-economic differences in regard to goals and goal attainment. Pertinently and prominently conspicuous are globalization efforts to achieve one super language, one super economy, one super religious faith, one super this, and that, and the other – too many super structures to mention in this regard. More often than not these efforts succeed in unleashing centrifugal forces that drive people further apart from the idealized center of the globalization goal set by some of the leading countries of the world, instead of drawing them tighter together in one peace-loving, united family or one thriving brotherhood.
Warped level of adaptation and maladjustment
220.127.116.11 The spending and lending plaque
Cameron reports that in the United State’s sub-prime mortgage market, the potential losses from the latest fallout
in the house market were estimated at US$600 billion; but this week, ending November
10, 2007, they were up to US$1 trillion.(45 In a highly developed
and smartly civilized country like the United States of America it is, however,
not difficult to reinstate the ‘normal’ economic state of affairs within a very
short time. For other countries which have echoed the same fallout, especially
all the developing countries in Africa
Shawn Tully comes to the conclusion that in regard to the latest Wall Street Crisis ‘Two things stand out about the credit crisis cascading through Wall Street: It is both totally shocking and utterly predictable. Shocking, because a pact of the highest-paid executives on the planet, lauded as the best minds in business and backed by cadres of math whizzes and computer experts, managed to lose tens of billions of dollars on exotic instruments built on the shaky foundation of subprime mortgages.(46
18.104.22.168 Pandemics and endemics of widespread irrationality
From time immemorial mankind has been pursued by plagues that may be described as illogical, unreasonable, absurd maladies from which enfolded conditions that ignited a host of warped maladjustments and acts of malfeasance, such as dishonesties, corruption, lying, crimes, and general cultures of violence and criminality.
Man is very willing and eager to ‘follow my leader’ or to ape any seemingly quick solution to his pressing problems. This irrational behaviour becomes startlingly evident when homicidal and certain quaint criminal patterns emerge after a spate of these events has occurred. Among some of the many horrifying acts of man in this set, are the rapes of newborn babies by their own fathers, the rape of grannies by their own grand children, the murder of parents by their children, and the absurd notion that HIV-Aids can be cured by raping children, or any female virgin.
Worst of all these irrationalities show a tendency to spill over to quaint and trite superstitions about (i) messages received from the dead or from the forefathers; (ii) vividly-recalled conversations with God or his Angels; (iii) hearing how birds, animals, or trees talk to one and dish out instructions how to kill off an opponent; (iv) undergoing a very strong homicidal urge, but in stead of killing oneself one resorts to switching the ‘I’ (ego) with the ‘You’ (alter) and killing the person nearest to one entering the scene or one who happens to be present at the time.(47
22.214.171.124 Endemic Conflicts
through the pages of some of
9.0 In conclusion
In conclusion allow me the luxury of quoting a last, important message left by Burrow: ‘Surely it must be evident that the social and economic disorder and unrest throughout the world to-day are an integral part of the more specific pathology that confronts the physician and the criminologist in the court or the clinic.’ (49
The million dollar question is whether the modern world will allow Burrow to reopen his case in the court of public opinion.
At the risk of being boring and outstaying my welcome, I want to take my leave now, repeating that this article wants to stimulate more research into mental derangement - no more and no less than that.
A. A few additional notes highlighting some of Trigant Burrow’s work on his structural theory of insanity
1.0 Alfreda S. Galt of the Lifwynn Foundation wrote about Trigant Burrow and the Laboratory of the “I” (http://www.lifwynnfoundation.org/trigent.htm)
2.0 In her abstract, heading her report, she tells us that this ‘social self-inquiry was originated by Burrow in the 1920’s and is now carried forward by a small group of investigators at the abovementioned foundation. She explains that it is a research method that combines group work with a somatic approach, one which is aimed at a better understanding of hostility and alienation in human relationships; as well as the basic unity of the human species and the prevalent social neurosis that has disrupted it.
3.0 The writer further contends that group analysis was originated by Burrow and acted as a precursor of group therapy and the first extension of Freudian principles to the social setting.
4.0 The basic assumption of the research is Burrow’s solidarity of the human species inasmuch as all humans function as one unique body, a proposition echoed by Maurice Merleau-Ponty in Behnke 1984, pp. 147-49.
studied medicine at the
first councilor and president.
7.0 Burrow rejected the idea of a mind/body duality, claiming psychological and the physiological aspects of human life are just obverse aspects of each other.
Trigant Burrow M.D., PH.D. The Structure of
Insanity. A study in phylopathology. 1932.
James Hastings – revised by Frederick C. Grant
and HH Rowley. Second Edition of the Dictionary of the Bible.
3) ibid., p. 212
4) The Holy Bible: 1 Samuel 1613,9
Vold, George B. Theoretical Criminology.
8) Burrow, ibid., pp 5-6
9) Vold, ibid., p. 111
10) ibid., p. 112
11) ibid., pp. 113-4
and HL Gonin. Trilingual Legal Dictionary .
1987. pp. 333-350
13) Vold, ibid., pp. 28 et seq.
14) ibid., pp.30-1
Berelson’s classification of research contents,
Jacob van der Westhuizen. WW Bib.
Kaplan Harold I. and Benjamin J. Sadock. Synopsis
of Psychiatry – Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry. Eighth Edition,
1998. B.I. Waverly Pvt Ltd.
19) ibid., chapters 8 to 17
21) ibid., pp. 634-7
23) Luft, 1970, and quoted by Wilhelm and Jacky Jordaan. Luft, 1970, and quoted by
Wilhelm and Jacky Jordaan.(23
24) Burrow, ibid., p. 5
25) Jordaan & Jordaan, ibid., pp. 17-8; 30-2
26) Burrow, ibid., p. 16
27) ibid. pp. 24-5
28) ibid., pp. 9-10
29) ibid., pp. 19-22
30) ibid., p. 20; p. 33; pp. 37-8
31) ibid., p. 11; pp. 14-6; p. 22; p. 57
32) ibid., pp. 70-80
33) ibid., pp. 46-63
34) ibid., pp. 14-5; p. 80
35) ibid., p. 44
36) ibid., pp. 67-80
37) ibid., p.66
38) ibid., p. 68
39) ibid., pp. 49-50
40) ibid., p. 71
42) Wilhelm and Jacky Jordaan, ibid. Comment: in such a comprehensive book on the psychology of man, ( a book which is a prescribed textbook for all students in psychology at the University of South Africa) one would expect to see and learn more about mental derangement or madness or psychosis. Negative. The only mention of this topic is found on page 144 as a ‘margin note’ telling us that ‘psychomimetic (sic) drugs tend to cause psychotic symptoms – a psychosis is a severe mental illness characterized by poor or no contact with reality. Examples of such drugs are LSD, mescaline, and also marijuana when taken in sufficiently large quantities.’ page 144
Scott, William A. and Michael Wertheimer. Introduction
to Psychological Research.
44) The New York Times in the Sunday Times September 11, 2005, p.7
46) Tully S., assisted by Marilyn Adamo, Lisa Bergtraum, Katie Benner, Susan Kaufman, Eugenia Leveson, Joan Levinstein, in Fortune, November 26, 2007. Vol. 156, No. 10, pp. 38-47
Bromberg, W. Crime and the Mind.
48) Beeld, 12 October 2007, p.10.
© Jacob van der Westhuizen,
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