Are we actually sane?
I was talking to one of our visitors last weekend. I did not take long to understand that she was suffering from some sort of mental illness that was causing her to live for the most part in isolation. She lived in fear, people were after her, and when here she would come up to me to report ‘strange’ behaviors from those around her. Her world was real to her, she was right and in touch with reality as far as she was concerned and filled with fear. It was both a painful as well as a boring experience being with her. She would walk up to me and just start talking non-stop about just about everything in her life. All I could do for her was to listen and in order to protect myself, to give her a time that I had to leave. The last time I talked to her I let her know that I had only ten minutes and we sat down and talked. Even then it took some gentle firmness to be able to get away.
I am not sure the talking helped her much. One reason is that her experience of reality was so out of touch with what we call ‘normal’ that it was hard to actually understand where she was coming from. I don’t like the word mental illness, yet her perceptions of the world around her where causing her no end of pain, fear and anxiety. Her family withdrew from her, not out of a lack of love but out of despair that anything could be done for her.
I have learned that people who suffer in this way can’t be fixed like a car. You can’t just go in and turn some nuts and bolts and everything will be alright. While it is true that medication can help, there is the problem of the irrational relationship that is formed with the psychotropic drug that inhibits them using on a regular basis. From what has been shared with me I can understand why some don’t use the meds. They cause them to feel tired, or foggy, or half dead. This woman was gentle, spoke quietly, yet her interpretation of reality was a bit right of center, perhaps so far right it was actually left. I am not saying this to be funny, but out of frustration over the plight of so many like her who suffer from mental illness.
I believe that people move in and out of mental health, it is just not a permanent move into mental illness for most of us. From my own experience, when I am in an agitated state, or an angry one, it is a slip away from ‘consensus reality’. Just look at what ‘normal’ people do n the highway when they get angry or enraged. I have seen many races on the interstate where one car is riding the bumper of another going in and out of traffic endangering their lives as well as others. When the ‘rage’ is over, I would think that many ask themselves what happened, why did I act so crazy? The point is that while in that state the actions make perfect sense.
Perhaps being mentally healthy comes about when the understanding on how fragile we all are and how easy it is to slip into some form of consciousness that is simply crazy, irrational and harmful is understood. I guess being part of a ‘mob’ gives people the permission to be ‘mentally ill’ because others egg them on and both go on to do some really violent things to others. In fact I think from reading the papers that whole countries can become a mob, coming together and doing many crazy things to outsiders, or to the enemy. I understand that such a slip is easy to do…..I am not exempt.
We have forms of entertainment that allows crazy behavior to be safe. Just look at what people do at football games. Men paint their bodies like savages, jump up and down in front of TV cameras, and drink bear and having fun. If they went to a mall and did the same thing, say on a quiet Sunday afternoon, someone would call the police. It is a healthy outlet for our inner wild man, or crazy man, or whatever, just make sure it is done is a place where it is encouraged and safe to do.
Our society lends itself to mental illness I believe. Constant noise, unrelenting pressure while driving, the news that we absorb on daily basis, most of it causing some level of fear and anxiety, even if it is pushed deep into the unconscious. Being controlled by the constant message to buy, spend, get this product etc. Just look at the cultural interest in being slim. Diets, miracle drugs to help people lose weight, yet we don’t seem to be getting slimmer as a nation. So more diets, more money spent on pills etc….a lot of stress, so over eating addictive foods is rampant, also being pushed through the commercials, even though the companies that advertise know of the long term harm done to those who eat these addictive foods on a regular basis. Salt, fat and sugar, the magic combination to get us coming back for more, get them when young and you have them for life. Perhaps unrestrained capitalism is a form of insanity……profit at all cost.
No time for simple reflection, people often too tired for that. Yeah it is crazy. Perhaps it has always been so. I have no idea what it was like to live centuries ago, but I doubt we were anymore sane, we just did not have the means to cause as much havoc, destruction and death that we are doing in our enlightened modern times. Perhaps being sane is rare, am I sane….well maybe not, I just try to keep my head above water. Crazy thing happen when we allow ourselves to sink beneath the waves into the collective unconscious. Monsters live there and we ignore them at our peril.
Would someone who was in fact immune to episodes of ‘losing it’,
would he be consider abnormal and insane?
Edited by markdohle, 29 July 2014 - 12:14 PM.