In much the same way as Scandinavia before the onset of Christianity, Anglo-Saxon England presented a very different interpretation of madness. According to Peter Dendle, there is no indication of anything like demonic possession among the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons. However demon possession, introduced by Christian missionaries, may have provided the Anglo-Saxons with a behavioral and theoretical paradigm for the expression of certain biological, psychotically, and even sociopolitical dysfunctions. An epileptic was provided an explanation of what was happening to him; a woman torn by rape and war-related loss, perhaps fractured to the deepest sense of self, had a means of enduring; the political and religious dissident incapable of openly admitting frustrations subconsciously found a means of venting them. Much is not known about the approach which Anglo-Saxons took to madness, and representations in literature are nearly non-existent. However, it is known that Greco-Roman medicine did eventually take hold and influence the area as Christianity spread. Since those medical practices recognized such aberrant mental states as mania, phlebitis, and melancholia, these behavioral categories still operated in the middle ages, even if they were not used precisely or consistently, especially by laypeople.
There seems to be some evidence of a falling off of representations of madness in the early middle ages within English literature, and explanations of this, even by Peter Dendle are at a minimum. However, a renewed interest in madness was really very apparent in medieval romances, with a moral interpretation of madness used to mark the hero’s transition from sinful to holy folly. Much in the same way that the French were concerned with issues of identity and madness, so too were the English in regards to an interest in the inner lives of individuals, especially moving forward from the twelfth century. This focus on the inner life, according to Stephen Harper, much be the lens through which one looks at madness in English romance heroes during the middle ages, because it is often framed by conflicts between personal desires and cultural expectations. The story of the Fall underpins most cases of madness in English romances. However, Harper warns that current ideas about madness at any point in time are often difficult to separate from conventional or traditional ones.
Much in the same way that other cultures have associated madness and general wildness, as a general source of a loss of humanity, the English were interested in the line between human and man, and what that line implied about the human mind. According to Harper, “a man who loses his reason through sin, then becomes an animal.” However, what is also interesting about the English case is that the other end of the spectrum, being well educated and intelligent, could also be seen as a sign of madness, because there was often a close association between madness and scholarly learning. English madness in literature had a much closer connection to current societal events than their French, or Scandinavian, counterparts. The close association between madness and social and moral revolt, along with depictions that made rebels seem to be mad and beast-like, often lead not only to implications that those who worked against the social order were mad, but also that they were possibly possessed by demons of some sort. Moreover, authors such as Chaucer used the language of madness to satirize the intellectual and the dissident, because it exemplified his view of their position in society.
The main text which depicts madness in Irish literature, as discussed by Feargal O’Bearra in “Buile Shuibhne: vox insaniae”, is that of Buile Shuibhne (The Fury of Suibhne). The medieval Irish tale relates how the pagan king Suibhne, having injured the honor of the holy man Ronan Fionn, is cursed by that saint and, as a consequence, loses his reason and military credibility on the field of battle. This tale was obviously written after the adoption of Christianity in Ireland, but unlike many other Christian pieces discussing madness, it shows some level of tolerance and sympathy for the pagan king, who would usually be depicted as evil, as is the case with King Herod. The text goes on to treat the psychological and physical devastation caused by the fall from grace that leaves him transformed into a levitating bird-like creature hose whole refuge from those pursuing him are the treetops. Doomed to spend the remainder of his life wandering the mountains and glens of Ireland and Scotland in a state of acute mental anguish, he is forced to perform public penance while enduring the social humiliation of public solitude.
 Dendle, Peter. Demonic Possession in Anglo-Saxon England. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 2014: 143
 Ibid., 1
 Dendle, Peter. Demonic Possession in Anglo-Saxon England. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 2014: 91
 Harper, Stephen. Insanity, Individuals, and Society in Late-Medieval English Literature: The Subject of Madness. Studies in Mediaeval Literature 26. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003: 76
 Ibid., 136
 Ibid., 106
 Harper, Stephen. Insanity, Individuals, and Society in Late-Medieval English Literature: The Subject of Madness. Studies in Mediaeval Literature 26. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003: 141
 O Bearra, Feargal. “Buile Shuibhne: Vox Insaniae from Medieval Ireland.” In Mental Health, Spirituality, and Religion in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, edited by Albrecht Classen, 242–89. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014: 242
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