Am I mad? And what is madness anyway?
How do you define yourself? Do you fit into the category of ‘mad’?
What does madness mean to you? Does that determine whether or not you are mad?
‘Mad’ is a word that is has strong connotations and will be interpreted in differing ways dependent on who you are, how old you are, what experiences you’ve had, and what attitudes and personal values you hold.
Complicated isn’t it.
Are you the one calling someone mad? Are you the one being called mad? What is worse and what is better?
The English language is incredibly vast and incredibly subtle. For a writer, speaker, musician, poet, politician, teacher, preacher, or conversationalist-whatever type of wordsmith you happen to be, you’ll know that word choice fucking MATTERS.
Word choice matters, and the word-based labels we give people/ourselves matter.
Labels can be either received or given out. On social media, words/adjectives/labels with decidedely negative connotations and meanings seem to be chucked out daily like confetti, often by morons with no social skills who can’t even spell.
Harsh, but fair :P
Any public and supposedly “social” exchange by internet strangers on social media platforms is WORD HEAVY. Well, more accurately, ALL about the words.
Words are pretty much all we have to play with when we write. We don’t have tone of voice, facial expression, or tactile contact to temper or influence how our messages go down and get interpreted by the receiver. So in this modern age where so much communication is about the written word/the email/the text/the instant message/the article that comes up on your Facebook feed, the blog (and very rarely about the book), our communications are fraught with social difficulty.
I hate social media (& I don’t personally class WordPress blogging as social media, though you may well. Again, word choice- open to interpretation!)
But going back to the point of the post, am I mad?
Well yep, I pretty much think I am…..
I’d say I am more mad than not mad. Ergo I must be…mad.
I’m black and white. I ask questions like “am I mad or not?”, expecting a yes/no answer. Other humans wouldn’t even ask the question in the first place. They might be more comfortable with the whole idea of differing shades of mad, as in shades of ill (please see the brilliant and most fascinating post I published on that topic yesterday!).
I think anything over 50% of something makes you that particular thing. [In other words if 49% of me I deem ‘not mad’, but 51% of me I deem ‘mad’, then on balance, I’d say I’m mad.]
How do you decide if you are something, or NOT that thing? do you use the ‘50% plus makes it so’ rule?! Or do you have your own ways of conceptualising life and humanity?
I think I am mad on the basis that I have two mental health conditions which only affect less than 3% of the population. Therefore I am unusual. If 96% of people are not officially diagnosed with BPD/EUPD and PTSD and roughly 3% are, then that puts me in the atypical and unusual minority-based category.
When I studied psychology, first at A-level, then at university, the modules that covered mental illness were called “ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY”. That may surprise you if you’re not from a psychological background yourself, as this seems like a rather stigmatised name for a branch of social science that investigates a bunch of people who suffer greatly with their illnesses and have a suicide, self-harm and substance abuse rate that is far higher percentage than the general population. To call people like me ABNORMAL can sound on the face of it quite harsh. Unless you decide that abnormal is an OK word, and NOT a negative pejorative label to attach.
When I studied “abnormal” psychology all those years back, from memory, the justification for using the word abnormal was that it didn’t happen to many people, was statistically unlikely, and was representative of ‘atypical’ psychological development which deviated from developmental norms.
I demonstrate abnormality bows
My brain structure, synapses, neurotransmitters and pathways are abnormal.
The physiology of my body is abnormal- often either hyper or hypo aroused.
My thinking patterns are
abnormal sub-optimal, and would present a challenge to the most seasoned and experienced professor of CBT.
My ability to regulate my emotions is absolutely
My ability to maintain an equilibrium of mood that allow me to have a productive, fulfilling and satisfying life is
abnormally non-existent FUCKED!
My ability to live life without the repetitive intrusion of suicidal thoughts, feelings and occasional self-harm is absolutely
My ability to have managed to survive life and it’s challenges without psychiatric hospitalisation is
My ability to live life without the use of anti-depressant and anxiety medication is absolutely
My potential to live unsupported by NHS mental health services and psychological therapeutic intervention is absolutely
abnormal currently impossible.
……Thereby I would say I am “mad”.
However not everyone who thinks of themselves as mad is like me. Not everyone who is mad has professional mental health support available to them. Not every self-described mad person takes meds for it, has attempted suicide, been hospitalised, has ever self-harmed, has had crisis admissions to A&E, has had crisis assessments by the crisis team or long-term psychological intervention.
There are many ways to be mad, and many ways to deal with that madness.
Some people prefer to ignore their mad and bury their head in the sand and scrape by by whatever means possible. Others positively embrace their mad, viewing it is a good thing that enhances their creativity and sense of individuality and presence. Sometimes mad can even be seen as trendy. Being an artist, writer or other such creative with bipolar disorder can be seen as something admirable. The madness is associated in people’s minds with the genius they observe. Without the so-called madness, they would not be able to create such masterpieces. Musicians can be mad and their madness is viewed as a likeable eccentricity. So there is a link between madness and talent, if not a literal one, a perceived one. People believe that mad people can achieve great things, especially when hyper productive and hyper creative hypomania and mania takes hold. BUT, those states of madness are as potentially dangerous as they are addictive, intoxicating and “desirable”. There is a dark and dangerous side of madness, as well as it’s lighter creative eccentric side.
And where does criminality fit into all this I wonder? People often believe that people who commit acts of violence towards others are mad, but in a inherently deviant way. We label people “mad” when they do things we cannot understand and don’t like.
Anyone who abuses children is mad, surely? No sane person would want to abuse a child, people say. If it’s the “mad” people doing it, and the mad and sick people are incarcerated, then it makes us feel safer as a society. The more alarming truth of the matter though, is that most people who abuse children or rape someone or stab someone or steal from you are actually reasonably sane, at least on the visible surface layers.
You wouldn’t look at a person on the street and intuitively know they are a criminal or predator. Those who commit criminal acts look alarmingly normal. They are not all ugly with huge foreheads and squiffy eyes. That is just the stereotype. Criminals in court who are physically attractive with symmetrical facial features are given more lenient sentences. FACT. Why? Because it is harder for a jury to believe they could do bad things because they don’t look unwell or deviant or stereotypically criminal. Women are also given more lenient sentences too because we are influenced by what we expect of women in society, influenced by gender stereotypes.
I call myself mad, because I openly have mental health ishoos, have had a lot of mad person type experiences and regularly partaken in a lot of behaviours that are fairly mad-ish. But do I look mad to the naked eye? Well no.
I look totally normal.
This is a photo of me……..
Does this person look mad to you? Would you know looking at this image that I’m a mental health patient with a disordered personality and PTSD who has had several crisis admissions to A&E and acute psychiatric wards, has attempted to take my own life three times, takes two meds per day and requires psychological help just to stay afloat?
Nope. I don’t do I.
None of us look especially mad, so deciding who is and who isn’t mad is not for us to decide.
I AM mad, because I say so. But I will not like it if you call me mad. I will also not call you mad. Deal?
Will someone tell the morons on social media that someone is not mad because they have political beliefs different to yours, not mad because they have a different style of dress or preferences on lifestyle, attitudes, values, or aspirations?
Instead be like me, and call people who do this shit on social media a bunch of morons. That is far fairer :P
I am fully aware I sometimes do the things I get peed off with others for doing. I guess it comes with the territory of being a human.
Let’s face it. We’re all mad here.