Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The mentally ill respond ... well, sort of

According to statistical evidence meticulously accumulated by serious, professional people, presumably in their right minds, upwards of 70% of the world's population suffers from some form of mental illness. If so - and I for one would have guessed a higher number on this - doesn't it suggest that 'sanity' should now be considered a type of psychopathology requiring the immediate attention of the mental health community?

 "Bring to me a man who is sane and I will attempt to cure him." (C Jung)

  "Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live." (C Bukowski)

Of course, the distinction must be made between crazy and crazy.  A guy who quits his fabulously corrupt and high-paying job on Wall Street, moves to Rome and spends all his time creating pornographic graffiti on the walls of the Vatican is probably crazy; the woman in Texas (for some reason this sort of thing always seems to happen in Texas) who drowns her three kids in the bathtub because God told her to do it is the other kind of crazy; i.e. psychotic, dangerously deranged and a lot more than just a little stupid. These, by the way, are the people who generally vote.
The first type generally develops a huge following on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, followed by a lucrative book deal.
The second type is acquitted by a jury of her peers because, well, if God said so, He must have had his God almighty and who are we to question them reasons.

No doubt you're thinking this would be the ideal time to raise the - to my mind at least - obvious point that religious belief (any genre) is a clear cut form of mental illness, the greatest threat, in fact, to continued human evolution since the Biblical flood. But I'll resist the temptation, at least temporarily.

"That Noah's Ark must have been one big motherfucking boat, pardon my French, to be able to hold two of each kind of Dinosaur."  (Tour guide at the Creationist Museum somewhere in rural Kentucky)

I can recall a time when mental illness still had a sort of exotic, mysterious appeal. Like being crazy was not only cool, but it could also get you out of having to go to school.  Growing up there was a gigantic mental hospital right in our neighborhood. Creedmore State, it was called. Even the name sent chills.  I remember my mother saying to me, "Go ahead, keep acting crazy to get out of school and we'll be forced to send you over to Creedmore."  I almost wanted to go.

Back then a person could claim to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder and be proud of it, be proud of it, be proud of it. Now the most we can hope for is a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Syndrome. Whose identity isn't dissociated? Trying to get through life without occasionally dissociating will definitely drive you nuts.
Likewise, there used to be Manic/Depressives. Not only were these people really interesting about 50% of the time, they were great fun to date. Manics tended to be wild in bed; Depressives didn't really care if you never called.
Nowadays we're saddled with the dubious distinction of being Bipolar (yawn!), which, let's face it, sounds more like a global weather situation than a legitimate mental problem.

"Of all the things I've lost in my life, I miss my mind the most."  (Anonymous)

What's really scary - I mean aside from people believing in a God who would sanction the murder of children - is that recent advances in medical science and technology now make it possible to pinpoint aberrant areas of the brain which, it is claimed, cause people to do the sick, disgusting, psychopathic things they all too frequently do. In essence this is the "My brain made me do it" legal defense, and lawyers are salivating over it like a pack of famished coyotes honing in on a cattle carcass.
My brain made me do it.  Uh ..?

"If only there was something in your head to control the things you say and do."  (Chandler Bing)

The implication here is that pedophiles, rapists, serial killers, animal abusers, litterbugs, Republicans 
 (sorry, that just slipped out, possibly through a dissociated crack) etc. can no longer be held entirely responsible for their actions because, you know, their crazy brains made them do it.

'Their crazy brains, right?'
'How about the sheer stupidity you're displaying in buying into this pile of crap?'
'Hey, here's a printout of my latest functional MRI. Read it and weep, pal.'
'If this isn't a blatant and disturbing example of the current cultural paradigm of personal non-responsibility in all things, I don't know what is.'
'Okay, that's just your brain talking now.'

"People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does."  (M Foucault)

"Once structuralism went the way of the giant sea turtle we decided to deconstruct what was left, ended up turning the world into a vast debris field of meaning-less signs and symbols, about which we tried to wax self-reflexive and mostly ironic, asserting that once language was allowed to fully reinvent itself the tyrannical era of objective reality would come crashing down, except no one was paying attention and who the fuck were we kidding anyway? Strictly speaking we had all gone insane, but we insisted on continuing to refer to it as philosophy."  (Anonymous)  

 "Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink."   (C Bukowski)


  1. I think you are right. Sometimes, you do just have to pee in the sink.

    I guess logic and emotion are not the only forces guiding our insane, crazy, mixed-up, decisions AND the choices we decide to make.

    We do have the freedom of choice, with respect to everything...

    Do you think our actions are a direct reflection of our choices? There isn't really a black or white answer, like most things...there is much cloudiness to navigate. The interesting thing is, what happens to all of our decision making powers when we are living in an endless sea of infinite possibilities; our mind is sort of a mirror image of outer space and you can not distinguish an end, when it comes to possibilities. Our brain is anatomically organized into different systems. Part I is rational and logical and organizational, but part II is emotional...it tells what us what we want, be it a dream or a nightmare. I feel like, for me, part I and part II are constantly battling. Usually the emotional part wins when the rational part is overloaded, just ONE, little, teensy thing overloaded. It collapses, like if a machine is trying to process just one too many things. The tipping point causes a jam and a frightful meltdown. Still, for some people, if you do not reach the tipping point you will forever and ever and ever be plagued with the burden of that sickening feeling called, regret.

    Some people don't have this problem. Some people have a stronger part I than part II, some people have a stronger part II than part I. Those are the lunatic-type. But I hope, we all have a touch of lunatic floating and swirling to and fro inside our brains because...

    Imagine if you had no emotion and you functioned in your day-to-day life on pure logic. You would create the horrible risk never being happy. I guess then you could argue, the crazy people are the happiest. Whether you are a pedophile or a litterbug or worst of all, a Republican...I guess in a sense (these crazy folk) could know what it feels like to have a deep sense of happiness we might never experience, because our logical part goes to battle and often beat the emotional part. Whether it'll ultimately make us happy or not. I go to work each day because my rational side is telling me I should. My emotional side is telling me to skip work, bake chocolate chip cookies without paying for the ingredients, and then go sit in a field of wildflowers and eat my cookies. Probably with frosting. I'd still share them with people, because sharing feels good.

    But the hard part is...to make a choice, you have to stop thinking and go with how you feel. Without feeling, you are stuck because you will NEVER be able to make a choice. You are stuck between a place of yes and no, like a tick-tock clock...a maybe, never actually here or there. A maybe is worthless. You will never move forward or sideward or backward.

    I think crazy people, simply let their emotional part win more than "normal" people do. That's their choice, after all.

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  3. Of course, we might not be nearly as in charge as we think we are. Maybe it isn't your BRAIN that makes you do it. Choice could merely be an illusion.

    And then, we create all sorts of ways to rationalize and feel good about our actions. We don't have too much control over the stimuli around us, and some people believe it's the stimuli that ultimately decides. Maybe it should be, "the stimuli made me do it". And then we could blame murder on inanimate objects...and make ourselves feel good about it.