Though hopelessly outdated now, the DSMVI makes reference to a disorder called “Mad World Dysphoria.” It was defined as “a persistent, despondency and shift away from previously held ethical precepts, caused by catastrophic social change and a lack of traditional sources of moral authority.” While the DSMVII refused to expand upon it and last year’s DSMVIII excises the entry completely, it is useful for us to consider the implications. The sixth volume of that catalogue was published in 2027—ironically at the dawn of the 6th world. Fifty years on we forget what some of those early days were like: widespread rioting, racial violence, magical catastrophe, and the complete dissolution of national sovereignty that had been the guiding force of the world’s stability and morality for almost four hundred years. We forget now, but there is a generation for whom “Mad World Dysphoria” was a descriptor, not of a psychological pathology, but of lived experience. Those that survived it have broken almost completely from an account of what came before. Who was the President of the United States in 2008? Who won Eurovision in 2011? What was the the World Cup final bracket in 1998? Not only do most not remember, no one cares. Those were the last shuddering concerns of the 5th world and might as well be as distant from ours as the building of the pyramids or the extinction of the Dinosaurs. We live in the 6th world now and where our grandparents might have deemed it “mad” we see it as the only consistent source of sanity.
-excerpt from “ReAwakened: A Memoir” by Professor Ntongela van der Graaf, Johannesburg 2077