Over ten years ago I had a job as a radio copywriter. A young promotions assistant came into my office one day, sat down in front of me, looked me in the eye and asked: “Why is everybody crazy?”
I replied: “That, my dear, is a question pondered by many a wise man throughout history, yet no one has been able to answer it.”
The years went by, I grew older, and the question that young girl asked me stayed with me through hundreds of daily encounters with crazy people.
Before I continue, I want to be clear that there is a big difference between mental illness and crazy. Mental illness is a curse that cannot be prevented, but can sometimes be treated. Crazy, on the other hand, is more often than not brought on by the individual who suffers from nutty.
So, why are so many people crazy?
1- No real spiritual beliefs. Without some core, defined spiritual beliefs, the world is a dark menacing place in which you have no control over your destiny. Faith makes it possible for people to realize their dreams and control their life. Faith and spirituality is also a source of strength. Without strength or faith, the world makes you into a punching bag- which will eventually break down your sanity. Some of the kookiest crack pots I’ve encountered had that in common: no real spiritual beliefs. In their mind, everything came from nothing and nothing happens for a reason.
2- Drugs: it is alarming the sheer volume of people who are addicted to a substance- predominately prescription drugs. You can see this at kid’s sporting events or school functions- lots of high moms and dads in a drug induced haze or craze. Everyone I know who has gone untreated eventually goes totally nuts, to a point where even once they give up the drugs- the damage is done and they’re never the same.
3- Identifying the self too closely with something that can disappear in a moment: I’ve seen this happen numerous times working in media. Folks in showbiz see this constantly. It more frequently happens in industries where big egos dwell. I’d see people in the business get big heads about their “important” jobs. Their “important” job becomes their very identity. Then, there’s a hostile takeover, the company is bought out and everyone “important” gets fired. Along with their jobs goes their very identity. Until they find another “important” job, they are a mere hollowed out shell of what they once were, or in some cases, they go into deep mourning.
4- Guilt: Lots of folks carry around a massive load of remorse. My grandmother told me a story of a woman who lived in her apartment complex when she was young. This woman had a husband in the military. Whenever he came home after a tour of duty, she would not allow him to sit on the sofa- it had plastic on it and she didn’t want it to get dirty. She’d make him eat over the sink as to not drop crumbs on the tablecloth- and he could only enjoy his coffee at the kitchen counter as to not leave any coffee rings on the furniture. Well guess what- one day he was killed in the line of duty. This woman felt so guilty about the fact hat she never allowed her husband the comfort of home- that she trashed the entire apartment and everything in it. The paddy wagon came and took her away- never to be seen again. Guilt. Guilt drove her into insanity.
5- Childhood trauma: This is the top one. The craziest, most self destructive and self sabotaging people I have known all had one thing in common: childhood trauma. Whether a parent was a drunk, suicidal or abusive, or unavailable to protect them from molesters, so much crazy leads back to this. This truth has led me to conclude that parents are fully responsible for the sanity of their child. So, if your child grown up to be a self destructive, dysfunctional basket case, usually the parents or guardian is to blame.
6- Other People: I know this to be absolutely true. If you keep company with crazy people, they will without a doubt, drive you into the pits of insanity. It takes strength of Biblical proportions to guard your self from the insanity of others- I am living proof of that! You have to be hell bent and determined to not be crazy to prevent this. You also must have the guts to cut these people out of your life. It may be one of the most difficult life changing events you’ll ever experience, but, you will have your sanity in the end. As Wiz Kalifa Says “There’ll Be haters, But That’s No Prob!”
This post was modified from its original form on 19 Dec, 15:39
There may be a lot more out there that drives folks nuts, but these are the top six I’ve observed. There is a cliché that states that “Everyone has their demons”. I say if you don’t let them in you won’t harbor any.
Furthermore, I don’t care what anybody says about sanity and normalcy being a relative thing. Crazy is as crazy does.
Is it easy to be sane? Not really. It takes loads of self awareness, ability to make sound choices, and clarity. Is it hard to raise a child and protect them from trauma? Yes! I’m doing it on my own and I am on house arrest for the next decade. However, I’m here every second to protect my child from any predator- and the payback for that will be priceless. I can’t get over the number of single moms who load their kids off on anyone so they can “go out”. Every adult I’ve spoken with who was molested was assaulted when their parent or guardian was “out” doing their own thing. Remember, raising a child is a limited time offer- they will inevitably move away and get a life of their own eventually, leaving you to finally do your own thing. Being an active parent also will prevent a lot of guilt.
Like everything else, sanity, for the most part, is a conscious choice.
I see two significant problems being overlooked for the most part. The first is that given the difficult general condition in which we find the nation, all of the above-mentioned elements affecting the unstable are compounded with additional triggers. These same additional pressures existed in the 1930's only without many of the previously mentioned qualities which are now common. Another significant issue is that the percentage of people in the population who are sociopaths or otherwise mentally unstable is relatively constant; However, as the population increases, so does the absolute number of unstable persons. We now have approximately 2 1/2 times the population we had in 1930, therefore, it is reasonable to believe that we have approximately 2 1/2 times the number of unstable persons we had in 1930. Back then, we also had stronger informal systems of managing them as well as a functioning network of mental hospitals, of which today we have only a vestigial presence.
David, excellent points and some that we definitely need to consider. More people mean that the percentage of unstable would increase accordingly. I also believe the difference now is that people are open about this and it doesn't have the taboo that it has had in the past; it is relatively new to diagnose and discuss things like ADHD, AD, Autism, Schizophrenia, Bi-polar, Depression, Obsessive/Compulsive, and other disorders. Even a lot of the learning disabilities are now recognized, for a start, and openly discussed. Therefore, with acknowledgement and open dialogue, it is only reasonable to assume that we see what appears to be a larger number of those suffering from these. I don't believe it is necessarily on the rise, I believe that we are just more aware. If there is an increase in number, other than what would be expected with more people, it is also subject to conditions we are experiencing these days, as David pointed out. Again, good thoughts, David.