Let’s talk about madness, from a layman’s perspective. The word ‘insanity’ has a beautiful ring to it. It sounds like something that comes into play when critics are discussing music or art in the choicest jargon. Something like, “The fugue is in place. Only the insanity needs to be in key, and placed right after the interlude.” But the beauty of madness ends there.
I have seen madness up close, specifically schizophrenia. I lived with it since my birth to just a few years back. And I am not talking about the populist “I am so crazy, you have no idea how crazy it is” kind. That’s just a trope used by sane people to show how creative or cool they are. I’m talking about real madness, the clinical kind. Here are some thumb rules from my experience to understand what it is:
1. A mad person generally does not care how much cash they have. If you know how much money you have, you are sane no matter how “crazy” you are.
2. Hygiene is not the foremost thing in the mind of a crazy person, unless the person has an obsessive compulsive disorder related to cleanliness.
3. Completely unrelated talk. For instance, if you ask a mad person whether they are hungry when you know they are actually hungry, they might tell you the pigeon in the tree next door is waxing eloquent on algebra. Generally speaking, if a person is hungry, they attend to their hunger in word and deed. They don’t care about pigeons. A normal person eats, a mad person may not. Or if they do they might eat till your fridge is empty and they choke.
4. Extreme emotions are a sign of the mad person. A mad person may not react at all if you ask them if there is a fire burning under their arm after you have lit a match under their arm. Or they might react violently if you ask them about the ant that’s creating commotion in the kitchen cabinet.
5. A mad person loves and hates with equanimous intensity. Their love is not very different from their hate, which would resonate with sane people as well. They may also do something that you would never consider. For instance, burn the television (this has actually happened)
6. A schizophrenic might repeat a certain gesture or physical act ad nauseam. And, of course, they have conversations with “friends” only they see. They also “suffer” from wanderlust.
7. They can be more detached than the Buddha or as attached as a child is to its soft toy.
There are many indicators, but these anecdotal rules will suffice in determining real craziness, more or less.
Living with an insane person can debilitate an entire family. While from the outside things may look unruffled, the inside is filled with not only high medical costs, but a social and emotional cost that cannot be fathomed. In fact, the insane person is just fine in her/his world. They don’t even know that they are being mad while going about their life, doing things that appear absurd to us. It is the family around them that suffers immensely. Besides the social ostracism that the family faces on and off, the logistical cost of having to find an insane person who just decides to vanish one night can be tiring and emotionally draining.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. My suggestion is simple: next time you call yourself “crazy” and you know exactly how much you have in your bank, it is a pretty good indicator that you are not crazy. You are just being glamorous, that’s all. This is quite endemic among artists and the like, who “practice” madness as if it were a religion. If an artist were truly mad, s/he might not even do art. Art requires an extraordinary amount of sanity as well, before anything else.
Insanity is a serious issue and families of people with mental conditions need all the support they can get, especially since children suffer the insanity of a parent their entire life and have trouble in their own relationships on account of it. They don’t become insane, but emotionally damaged. And that’s a high price to pay for no fault of yours.
Dravid, the person to love this season
When he questioned why he was paid Rs 50 lakh while his support staff got only Rs 20 lakh after winning the U-19 World Cup, it warmed my heart to know that there are “humane beings” out there. Rahul Dravid is not just “The Wall”, he is much bigger than his metaphorical moniker.
He is person who understands that life is not a fish market where you market your wares with the loudest voice.
(Santanu Borah writes, paints and procrastinates at leisure. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Indialivetoday and Indialivetoday does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.