A Healthy Dose of Insanity

January 5, 2008 at 9:48 am | Posted in Life as I See It, Musing + Mulling | 9 Comments
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Insanity is my only means of relaxation.

I guess that applies for all of us. Even the most grim-faced, humourless creatures. That occasional quirky behaviour, the unpredictability or the feeling of unserious-ness that goes with it are some of the pills that all human beings ought to have from time to time.

But I wonder why so many people are unwilling to commit themselves to an occasional lapse of reason. Are they unaware that there’s a part of them that secretly yearns to get away from the mundane, to rid itself of all worry, to drop the concern and just be? Are they reluctant to expose that side of them to the world? Afraid, perhaps, of what the mind will do if set free?

Isn’t that what insanity is? Setting yourself free.

You can say that human beings are born free, but all of their life, whatever they may be bound by – wealth, responsibility or time – most of all a person is bound inwardly by themself. We imprison ourselves and don’t even know it. To be insane is to break the shackles and cut all the chains. The chains of reason. Of the tedious drudgery. Of the realm of impossibility.

To come on a more concrete plane, let me first define what insanity is. (And no, I’m not talking about the medical aspect of it.) Insanity, madness, lunacy – whatever you may call it – is an aspect of human behaviour that, in itself, is a counter-image of a person – and a very useful one at that. Why do I call it a counter-image? Well, because in this particular type of behaviour you don’t confine yourself to the facade that you may project to the world, or to even yourself. You become what you are not that you purport to be but that which you are, unknown to yourself. (Maybe that’s a bit confusing, but it does make sense.) Every person has dozens of ‘selfs’ in their natures. Dozens of different images, a whole bunch of different personas. All unified under the all-powerful ‘I’. This isn’t hypothetical rubbish, but science, albiet a very confusing one. Beneath the sense of identity that every person possesses are other sides of themselves that they aren’t aware of. Insanity is unearthing these sides.

Now you may argue it isn’t really possible, or rational, for a person to not know their own self. Well, guess what, it completely is. Schiller got it right when he said ‘When the wine goes in, strange things come out.’ We all know the effects that alcohol or drugs induce in a person that lead them to behaviour or ability they didn’t think themselves capable of – but there it is, a merely external, artificially induced, unnatural phase. Insanity is innate, instinctive…a natural drug, I’d say.

I know it’s boring to be predicable, conventional, and typical all the time. It is necessary to confirm yourself to the standards for society’s sake (we aren’t a bunch of mad apes on the lose, after all) but it is vital to be occasionally insane for the sake of your own. What’s the fun in leading an almost-programmed life anyway, with forlorn expressions and grim viewpoints?

To quote Jean Dubuffet: ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’ Definitely. And it’s also a kind of a defence mechanism that allows you to push back your anxiety and angst – and live as though you haven’t a care in the world. It’s good to be insane once in a while.

You aren’t doing it for anybody else; you’re doing it for yourself.


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  1. What’s the fun in leading an almost-programmed life anyway, with forlorn expressions and grim viewpoints?

    So true…
    But except alcohol and drugs, are there any other ways to become temporarily insane?

  2. Yes, there are. Each time you act quirky, dress up unconventionally, laugh uncontrollably, dance without music, pull funny faces, tell stories, pretend as though you were a child again, and express your creativity, and of course, dream – you’re setting a wisp of madness free.

    In words of William Dement: ‘Dreams permit each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.’


  3. Call me blind but I never quite realized that. I guess you opened my eyes a bit more. Thank you for that!
    A good quotation as well… I’ll have to remember that.

  4. Haha, no problem. :]

  5. i love my doses of insanity once in a while! my friends look at me like i’m crazy, and while i understand their reaction sometimes i wonder don’t they ever feel like doing something crazy once in a while? don’t they ever have the urge to just be totally un-normal? i don’t get these moments often (too often wouldn’t be a good thing, would it? haha) but when i do i love it. it’s like a mini high – safe enough to feel euphoria. one of the craziest things i did was to tell practically everybody i love you. >.< the next day was awful, but at that moment i felt so good. and my friends reciprocated what i said, which i felt was worth something – if i didn’t say it, they wouldn’t have known.

  6. @sulz: exactly, that’s what I feel like about being being crazy sometimes…’the urge to be un-normal’ as you call it =)

    I should take a leaf out of your book and try that i love you thing too.
    I know it’s crazy but it sounds fun!

  7. […] Not really on topic, but I think you’ll find this […]

  8. I agree with you, but not entirely, and I can explain why. I’ve been experimenting with this, and monitoring my own behaviour (how it varies, and what makes it vary).

    I concluded that my behaviour depends on the social group I’m in. Some people call me the funniest person they know, others – the most serious one. Some think I am rational, others think I am not, and so on. I am the same – but *they* are different, I am who they think I am (I mean, if there is no outside observer, how can I make an objective opinion about myself).

    As you were saying, there are different personas within the ‘I’; I act differently when the people around me are different. If I am playing football with my friends I can jump and twist in the air, and scream; if I’m with the same people but we are around a table, rather than on the pitch – I make jokes and then discuss about the universe, then make jokes about the universe. With other friends I can talk about other topics, and reveal my other self.

    The problem is that many of us restrict ourselves to a small number of social groups (and those social groups are quite small sometimes) – which is why we only manage to reveal one, two, or maybe three “faces”. Sure, maybe drugs and alcohol can make a small improvement, but they are not as effective as interacting with people of different shapes, colours and flavours.

    No one has ever heard me sing, except a friend, when I’m with him I always start singing and he feels embarassed and tells me to shut up (-:

    No one has seen me dance, except my sister, etc.

    In the long run, I would bet my money on developing social skills, rather than on “controlled insanity”. My friends are my treasure.

    On the other hand, this could be a matter of being introverted or not. An introvert will prefer a solution which does not invlove other people; while the other folks will prefer having people around. But then again, I noticed that I am both (and that depends on whether someone I can trust is around or not – so we’re back to the social factor).

  9. @Alex: you’re right on the social setting one. You can’t reveal your own true to self to everyone you meet of course, but that’s it, it’s just basically for yourself. As far as the choice between friends and ‘controlled insanity’ that you call it; we’ll have to agree to disagree there :-D Thank you for your input!

    P.S. Constantin: thanks for the link! :]

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