Picturing Sanity, in Black and White

Article Summary by Bryan Mukandi

This article tries to simulate a strange journey through a maze built around writers and artists, all grappling with the question of what it means to be ‘normal’, to ‘belong’. There are lots of ways to approach these questions. I focus on the experiences of people who struggle to maintain a grip on sanity. Drawing on the word’s roots, I understand sanity to be a sense of healthy conformity. In a world that too often seems divided into black and white, I wonder what the expectation of sanity is like for white people who are strangers by virtue of their understanding of themselves and their experience of the world. I also wonder about the meanings and costs of sanity for black people. When everything is said and done, my hope is to celebrate all those who grapple with normal and sanity; to provide readers with glimpses of the humanity and beauty of those struggling on the tightrope of existence; and to cast the impossible task of representing another’s experience into an impossible conceptual maze, a convoluted labyrinth, a cerebral riddle.

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Read the full article on the Medical Humanities Journal website.


Dr Bryan Mukandi has a medical degree from the University of Zimbabwe; an MA in Public Advocacy and Activism from the National University of Ireland, Galway; and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Queensland. His work has appeared in the Bloomsbury Companion of Philosophy of Psychiatry; South African Journal of Philosophy; Journal of Bioethical Inquiry; and Theoria among others. He is currently employed as Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Languages and Cultures.

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