On the Nature of ‘Sanity’ and ‘Insanity’
Since the recent Aurora shooting, people and so-called “experts” have started speculating on the mental state of James Holmes. One the popular “theories” floating around the intertubes is that he was somehow mentally ill or becoming mentally ill. I saw a recent post on metafilter where one of these so-called “experts” tries to say that any essentially any version of “reality” that is different from the so-called normal version is somehow pathological. He also goes on talk about cross-cultural differences in perception and prognosis of mental illness, but seems to miss the bigger question. What is ‘sane’ or ‘insane’ and why? I believe that answering that question is far more important than rambling on how to detect and treat ‘psychosis’ and here is why-
If you look at the world around you or read enough history it is obvious that so-called “normal” human beings are, for the lack of a better word, delusional.
Let me explain my points with a few examples-
1. The majority of human beings believe in the existence of an anthropomorphic ‘god’ who just happen to be very interested in the daily lives and beliefs of human beings. But have you ever wondered why an entity who could create and destroy universes might care about the sexual or other “moral” choices of human beings. I mean.. do you care about the sexual behavior of termites or bother yourself with whether they might worship you or not? Do you measure your success by how many termites believe that you are the one true god? Are you concerned about the termites worshiping any other human as a false god? Do you consider the residents of one termite mound as the ‘chosen’ ones? and yet you are only human. So why is belief in any religion, traditional or secular, not considered a serious mental illness?
2. Consider the sordid history of “medical science” which until the last 60-70 odd years could not effectively treat even very common diseases and disease conditions such as various bacterial pneumonia and hypertension. Did the inability of physicians to effectively treat diseases stop them from coming up with various fanciful notions of the etiology of diseases and methods to treat them leading to the premature death of most patients? It is only in the last ~ 60 years that going to a doctor has finally become less dangerous than not going to one. But have you ever wondered- why did physicians keep on believing in theories and treatments that plainly killed many more patients that helped them?
3. Human beings, throughout history, have fought wars amongst themselves. In almost all wars and armed conflicts throughout human history, active participants stand out as the one group that consistently loses the most- even if they are on the so-called “winning” side. While these losses take myriad forms from death, disease, injury to PTSD, other personal losses and financial losses- active participants are always the biggest losers. But has that stopped people from fighting wars, joining the military or otherwise answering the ‘call of duty’. It is very odd that we celebrate people who will screw over their own lives and future happiness to enrich a few cynical moneybags or mollify the egos of a few sociopaths.. I mean leaders. Are those who fight wars on their own accord sane?
The insanity and self-destructiveness of so-called “normal” human beings and societies easily surpasses what the most “mentally ill” and “delusional” individual is capable of.
What do you think? Comments?