->''"Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away forever."''
-->--'''SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker''', ''ComicBook/TheKillingJoke''

A sister trope to GoMadFromTheRevelation, Driven To Madness represents a deliberate attack upon a character's sanity and mental stability.

There are many varied reasons for someone to attempt to drive another person to madness. Perhaps they seek to break the character's will in order to make them more pliable, or it may be an attempt to induce a FreakOut or FaceHeelTurn. [[RevengeByProxy They may wish to punish the character or torment them by attacking their loved ones in such a fashion]]. They may try doing so in order to have someone discredited or declared incompetent. Maybe they're [[ForTheEvulz just jerks.]]

Somewhat less evilly, someone may regard sanity as a prison and seek to release a character from its constraints by any means necessary.

The methods can vary, as well, from [[{{Gaslighting}} making them doubt their perceptions]], to the aforementioned torture, exposure to a BrownNote, or even straight-up MindRape. Some [[EldritchAbomination Eldritch Abominations]] drive men mad with their mere presence. Sometimes it can come just from going [[LudicrousSpeed really really fast]].

Particularly effective if the character has reason to doubt their own sanity, such as if they have recently been discharged from a mental institution or have undergone a nervous breakdown. Indeed, in such a situation, this often takes the form of an ThroughTheEyesOfMadness plot - at least at first.

Can overlap with BreakTheCutie.

The subtrope, {{Gaslighting}}, is the subtle, insidious form of this.

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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' Madara's talk with Sasuke about Itachi's true intentions ultimately led to Sasuke becoming AxCrazy and joining Madara's side.
* What Akito Sohma did to Kana in ''FruitsBasket''. After Akito blinded Hatori for asking for permission to marry Kana, Akito turned against the poor nurse and blamed her so much for Hatori's partial blindness that she went mad. It was so bad that Hatori had to [[spoiler: delete Kana's memories of their relationship.]]
** [[spoiler: Ironically, ''Akito'' herself was driven to madness upon years of monstruous psychological abuse coming from her mother Ren. As a little kid, Akito was naive and bad-tempered but not evil; however, she completely SNAPPED and became a massive {{Yandere}} with some of the worst issues in the whole cast.]]
* Johan of ''Manga/{{Monster}}'' is an expert at driving perfectly sane and normal people to suicide through total MindRape. From the little that is known of his past, his own sanity was methodically attacked throughout his childhood.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''[[Franchise/{{Batman}} Batman: The Killing Joke]]'': In which The Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane and fails.
** Unfortunately, a detective who has the misfortune of overseeing Joker being processed through to jail in Batman Confident is indeed driven to madness, turning into a cop-killing psychopath who ultimately commits suicide when he realizes how Joker turned him into a monster.
*** Subverted with Harley Quinn, who was was insane but functional when she first met the Joker; Joker simply gave her an excuse to give up control to her crazy side. As someone put it elsewhere on the site, "the Joker might have driven her mad, but Harley was willing to car-pool."
* The Sheeda in Grant Morrison's ''SevenSoldiers'' take great pride in their ability to break even the most noble of people and re-form them to suit their twisted desires.
** Also from ''SevenSoldiers'', after life has had a good hard go at [[BreakTheCutie breaking]] Sally Sonic, Vitaman essentially forces her to debase herself and then exposes her to [[PsychoSerum Doctor Hyde's Evil Serum]] to finish the job.
** The Terrible Time Tailor Zor briefly accomplishes this with magic, turning Zatanna into the person she would be if he had raised her instead of her father. [[spoiler: Fortunately, mad "Zorina" is enough of a brat to reverse the spell, just to annoy her "daddy".]]
* Happens to [[WhiteCollarCrime Warren White]], a white collar criminal who [[OnlySaneMan finds himself in Arkham Asylum]] in the limited series ''ComicBook/ArkhamAsylumLivingHell''. As the story progresses, Warren is continually tortured, abused and terrorized by the other inmates, until finally, he is locked inside Mr Freeze's empty cell by an inmate trying to steal his identity, where he loses his nose, his lips, some of his fingers, and his ears to frostbite. Now a "freak" himself, Warren transforms himself into the villain The Great White Shark.
* Incidentally, Franchise/SpiderMan is very good at this even if he doesn't entirely mean to do it.
** Kraven was so confounded by Spider-Man's humiliating defeats that he went nuts and eventually committed suicide.
** Electro started off as a typical JerkAss criminal but years of verbal and physical torment had enough of a toll that he is now relegated to asking his mutant girlfriend to shapeshift into Spidey during sex so he could feel in control.
** While [[DoctorOctopus Dr. Octopus]] was driven insane by the accident that turned him into a villain, it has been noted that Spider-Man's constant taunts and beatings drove him farther over the edge. Also, in two separate incidents, he was mentally scarred after pissing Spider-Man off. One of those times involved Spidey ripping his mechanical arms off.
** The Chameleon was '''frightened into a coma''' when he unknowingly built robot duplicates of Peter Parker's dead parents. It ended up being a case of BewareTheNiceOnes.
** Titania of SheHulk fame first fought Spidey back in ''ComicBook/SecretWars'' and instantly acquired a deep fear of Spidey and spiders in general due to the beating/embarrassment she received.
** NormanOsborn, like Dr. Octopus, was also already crazy when he first went up against the wall-crawler but after his first defeat, he essentially dedicated his entire life to ruining Peter's. In fact, since he was behind ''ComicBook/TheCloneSaga'', it was an inverted case since it mentally broke Peter Parker for about a year or two.
** Spidey drove Eddie Brock (aka ComicBook/{{Venom}}) insane by exposing the real identity of a killer after Brock had identified a compulsive liar who'd taken credit for the crimes. This was the only case in which Peter drove someone insane without meeting him.
* In ''ComicBook/TheBoys'', [[spoiler:Black Noir, the clone of Homelander,]] drove Homelander insane by mailing him photos of Homelander [[spoiler:actually Noir dressed up as Homelander]] eating babies, eating hearts, and committing violent murder-rapes. Homelander became an insane monster because he thought he was already a monster and just didn't remember it.
* Franchise/{{Superman}} and Character/GreenLantern villain Hank Henshaw, better known as the Cyborg Superman, was once a normal scientist (hell, he was an {{expy}} of [[Franchise/FantasticFour Reed Richards]]) until an accident changed him. He watched his friends die, his body disintegrate and, when he built a robot body for himself, watch his wife commit suicide. When he escaped using a small rocket he built from Supes' Birthing Matrix, he drove himself mad through the incredible loneliness, reasoning himself that he didn't leave Earth because he was a threat, he was driven off by Superman because he was ''jealous''.
* Used to be part of ComicBook/{{Diabolik}}'s modus operandi. He stopped doing that, but by that time [[TheDogBitesBack he had earned himself two formidable enemies in the form of one of these victims and the son of another]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* The main theme of ''Film/ShockCorridor'', where the hero has himself declared insane and sent to the asylum to solve a murder case. But things are going the wrong way.
* ''TheScreamingSkull'': In which a man attempts to drive his wife insane in order to get unrestrained access to her money. It shares [[InNameOnly very little]] with the F. Marion Crawford short story of that name besides the title.
* ''Let's Scare Jessica to Death''
* In ''Film/BatmanBegins'', the Scarecrow uses his fear toxin to drive people insane -- and then he gets a dose himself.
** In the sequel, ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', the Joker attempts to turn Harvey Dent insane to prove that no one is incorruptible. [[spoiler:He succeeds.]]
* The Skeksis render their captives near-mindless servants and steal their living essence by exposing them to TheDarkCrystal.
* In the Creator/RogerCorman directed VincentPrice film ''Pit and the Pendulum'' (bearing loose resemblance to the EdgarAllanPoe story it is based on), this is the goal of Nicholas Medina's tormentors. It [[GoneHorriblyRight goes horribly right]].
* ''HushHushSweetCharlotte'': Attempted semi-successfully with [[spoiler: one part {{gaslighting}}, one part drugs, and one part FakingTheDead with a StagedShooting.]]
* The film ''Sleep, My Love'' with Claudette Colbert.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* All the Outer Gods of the CthulhuMythos can drive one insane, but Nyarlathotep is apparently the only one who seeks to do so ForTheEvulz.
** Arguable. In none of Lovecraft's works does Nyarlathotep just randomly harass anybody. In the ''Haunter of the Dark'' he seeks to kill his summoner, because he didn't provide an appropriate sacrifice, in ''The Dreams in the Witch-House'' he just played a role as a guardian to the secrets beyond human ken who receives sacrifical tribute in return of allowing individuals to cross that veil, and in the ''Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'' he is seeking retribution against Randolph Carter for trying to see Earth's god's he had sworn to protect (and dominate) for unknown purposes.
* In a somewhat unknown Swedish novel, ''Simon's Family'' by Marianne Freddriksson, the character Isak is training at a boot camp. His squadron leader tries to break the spirit of him by being his antisemetic self (Jewish Isak had been molested as a child by Nazis- no I'm not making this up). Isak begins to go numb almost to the point of no return.
* This is the final fate of the protagonists in Creator/AlexanderPushkin's ''The Bronze Horseman'' and ''The Queen of Spades''.
* ''Literature/TheBookOfLostThings'': A common result of the Crooked Man's tortures, usually after being ForcedToWatch.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Angelus does this to Drusilla before turning her into a vampire.
* [[Series/{{Firefly}} River Tam]] is driven mad by the government and the knowledge she learns from the officials who come to see her.
** Not to mention the show's Reavers, who will occasionally keep one victim alive and force said victim to watch their shipmates be raped to death, skinned and eaten. The survivor will ultimately go mad from the experience and will only cope by becoming a Reaver themselves.
* Averted in the SciFi miniseries ''[[{{Dune}} Children Of Dune]]'' when one of the Cast-out attempts to drive Leto Atreides II insane with too much spice consumption. Rather than going insane, he becomes completely immune to the effects of spice and gains some superpowers into the bargain.
* In ''Series/ThePrisoner'' Number 6 goes to work on the Number 2 of the week in "Hammer Into Anvil". (Arguably, breaking Number 6' sanity is the point behind the whole series.)
* In ''MyNameIsEarl'' the episode "Crazy Witch Lady" has the titular Lady driven to madness by the citizens of Camden treating her like an evil witch. It is implied she was just a regular quirky [[EccentricTownsfolk Camden resident]] before this.
* Dr. Prospect does this to Daido Katsumi in ''[[Series/KamenRiderDouble W Returns: Eternal]]'' by [[spoiler:slaughtering the entire village he was trying to save and then rubbing salt in the wound by explaining how this happened because [[NiceJobBreakingItHero NEVER took them out of the village in the first place]]. Katsumi ''snaps'' completely as a result.]]
* This is what the main character of ''Film/TheCube'' has to contend with for the teleplay's entire duration.
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', [[spoiler:Rassilon]] drove the Master to madness by impanting the never ending sound of war drums in his mind when he stared into the Time Vortex as a child. The Master's last words before one apparent Final Death (it didn't stick) to the Doctor was him asking whether the drumming would finally end.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Black Spiral Dancers of ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'' force their captives to walk the Black Spiral and go as mad as they have.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* In the play ''Gas Light'' (and the two film versions of the play) the husband plays tricks on his wife in order to convince her shes going crazy. The term [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting Gaslighting]] was coined after the film for this kind of action.
* In {{Euripides}}'s tragedy, ''Theatre/{{Bacchae}}'', the [[ClassicalMythology god Dionysus]] drives his aunts --and many of the women of Thebes-- mad because they dishonored his mother and refused to acknowledge his divinity. The play ends with [[DownerEnding tragic results]].
* ''AStreetcarNamedDesire'': Stanley to Blanche.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Ib}}'' the [[CreepyDoll blue dolls]] are capable of driving people insane. Late in the game they attempt to do this to [[spoiler: Garry]] and if they succeed the damage may be [[GetAHoldOfYourselfMan temporary]]..or [[DownerEnding permament]], all depending on your [[MultipleEndings previous actions]].
* This is [[MadGod Sheogorath's]] whole schtick in ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'', as Daedric Prince of Madness. He delights in driving mortals to madness.
[[/folder]]


[[folder:Web Original]]
* [[VideoGame/HalfLife Gordon Freeman]], in ''Machinima/FreemansMind'', starts to behave more and more erratically as time passes and things happen (not that he wasn't a bit of a CloudCuckooLander to begin with). He has a ''dead serious'' monologue about how he's probably going insane and in need of psychological assistance after it's all over.
* WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick is usually driven crazy by things in movies she could easily switch off.
* The VideoGame/{{Touhou}} FanVid series WebVideo/KoishiKomeijisHeartThrobbingAdventure uses this as the prime plot driver: SOMETHING is driving all of Gensokyo insane, and the few sane people left ([[AnyoneCanDie well...sane and still living]]) have to figure out who and how to stop it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Many WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes characters end up doing this to their antagonists - of particular note are the mice Hubie and Bertie.
** Accordingly, the Warner Kids of ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' almost invariably manage to do this to anyone they have adopted as their "Special Friend" (generally someone who is being a jerk to start with).
* Squidward in ''WesternAnimation/SpongebobSquarepants'' occasionally becomes insane when the situation becomes simply too much for him. A notable example is in "Club [=SpongeBob=]" where, after losing all hope in escaping a forest, worships a toy conch with the rest of his companions.
* In ''The Twelve Tasks of {{Asterix}}'', the titular hero and his friend are sent to "The Place That Sends You Mad", a building from which they are to receive a certain form - alas, within the building lies a ''ferociously'' [[ObstructiveBureaucrat obstructive bureaucracy]]. So obstructive, in fact, that it briefly pushes Obelix over the edge. Fortunately, Asterix manages to turn the situation around, driving the bureaucrats mad instead - and allowing him to get the form in the process.
** Earlier in the film, Asterix also manages to cause a hypnotist to turn his power back onto himself, causing the poor man to believe himself a wild boar.
*** Iris may be a poor man, but it's a CrowningMomentOfFunny.
-->'''Iris''': ''(eyes glowing)'' By Osiris and by Apis, ''look at me''...
-->'''Asterix''': Can you light those up one at a time?
-->'''Iris''': Wha--be quiet! Now, by Osiris and by Apis, look into my eyes...
-->'''Asterix''': Can you light them up one at a time?
* ''WesternAnimation/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'': Sam and Max do this to MoralGuardian [[PunnyName Kent Standit]] in "The Glazed MacGuffin Affair". When he banned the titular snack food, Sam and Max went on a crusade to make him lift by getting him to taste one, following him everywhere he went and trying to trick him into eating one. This escalates into a cross-country chase, ending when Kent realizes he's arrived at the factory where Glazed {{MacGuffin}}s are made and snaps.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'''s Discord favors this as a method of BreakTheCutie.
* In the second season of ''WesternAnimation/LaffALympics'', Mildew Wolf has shown signs of being driven to madness after enduring and doing commentary on the show's silly {{Pseudolympics}}. One episode at the end actually has him in a strait-jacket committed to a mental ward.
[[/folder]]
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