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Insanity, craziness, or madness, is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest in people as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity. In modern usage insanity is most commonly encountered as an informal unscientific term denoting mental instability, or in the narrow legal context of the insanity defense.
- Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence?
- Achish king of Gath, Bible, Samuel I, 21:15.
- Only a madman would claim that there is some thing unreal about reality.
- Brian Aldiss, Aboard the Beatitude (2002). Originally published in Science Fiction: DAW 30th Anniversary, May 2002; reprinted in Karen Haber & Robert Silverberg (ed.) Science Fiction: The Best of 2002, p. 227
- All schizophrenia patients are mad, and none are sane. Their behaviour is incomprehensible. It tells us nothing about what they do in the rest of their lives, gives no insight into the human condition and has no lesson for sane people except how sane they are. There's nothing profound about it. Schizophrenics aren't clever or wise or witty — they may make some very odd remarks but that's because they're mad, and there's nothing to be got out of what they say. When they laugh at things the rest of us don't think are funny, like the death of a parent, they're not being penetrating, and on other occasions they're not wryly amused at at the simplicity and stupidity of the psychiatrist, however well justified that might be in many cases. They're laughing because they're mad, too mad to be able to tell what's funny any more. The rewards for being sane may not be very many but knowing what's funny is one of them. And that's an end of the matter.
- Kingsley Amis, Stanley and the Women, p. 147.
- In your day, riches debauched one class with idleness of mind and body, while poverty sapped the vitality of the masses by overwork, bad food, and pestilent homes. The... burdens laid on women, enfeebled the very springs of life. Instead of these maleficent circumstances, all now enjoy the most favorable conditions of physical life; the young are carefully nurtured and studiously cared for; the labor which is required of all is limited to the period of greatest bodily vigor, and is never excessive; care for one's self and one's family, anxiety as to livelihood, the strain of a ceaseless battle for life—all these influences, which once did so much to wreck the minds and bodies of men and women, are known no more. Certainly, an improvement of the species ought to follow such a change.
Insanity, for instance, which in the nineteenth century was so terribly common a product of your insane mode of life, has almost disappeared, with its alternative, suicide.
- Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage or by removal of the patient from the influences under which he incurred the disorder. This disease is prevalent only among civilized races living under artificial conditions; barbarous nations breathing pure air and eating simple food enjoy immunity from its ravages. It is sometimes fatal, but more frequently to the physician than to the patient.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1906).
- Mad, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech, and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1906).
- Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
- Attributed to Kenneth Boulding in United States Congress, House (1973), Energy reorganization act of 1973: Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on H.R. 11510. p. 248
- Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.
- Ray Bradbury, The Meadow (1947), originally a radio play for the World Security Workshop; later revised into a short-story for the anthology The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953).
- I'm seventeen and I'm crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane.
- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953).
- —Among the other things lunatics make: their own version of truth.
- John Brunner, Quicksand (1967), Chapter 13
- —What was I thinking earlier about lunatics making their own version of truth? Why specify lunatics?
- John Brunner, Quicksand (1967), Chapter 14
- Get it understood how dangerous these damaged, sick personalities are to ourselves - and above all, to our children, whose traits are taking form and we shall find ways to put an end to them.
- Donald Ewen Cameron as quoted by Harvey Weinstein in Father, Son and CIA, pg. 101.
- In Hollywood if you don't have a shrink, people think you're crazy.
- Johnny Carson in: Santhosh Babu Hire a Coach and create your future, Businesstoday, 5 June 2014
- The Buggers have finally, finally learned that we humans value each and every individual human life... But they've learned this lesson just in time for it to be hopelessly wrong—for we humans do, when the cause is sufficient, spend our own lives. We throw ourselves onto the grenade to save our buddies in the foxhole. We rise out of the trenches and charge the entrenched enemy and die like maggots under a blowtorch. We strap bombs on our bodies and blow ourselves up in the midst of our enemies. We are, when the cause is sufficient, insane.
- Ender's Shadow written by Orson Scott Card, (1999).
- The madman's explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory. Or, to speak more strictly, the insane explanation, if not conclusive, is at least unanswerable; this may be observed specially in the two or three commonest kinds of madness. If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do. His explanation covers the facts as much as yours. Or if a man says that he is the rightful King of England, it is no complete answer to say that the existing authorities call him mad; for if he were King of England that might be the wisest thing for the existing authorities to do. Or if a man says that he is Jesus Christ, it is no answer to tell him that the world denies his divinity; for the world denied Christ's.
- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908), pp. 32-33.
- It is ambivalence. Because I think that they’re heroic even when they’re crazed. I think that being crazed and obsessed is part of being heroic. You don’t get one without the other. Ambition is something else. It’s not ambition in the material sense. My characters are obsessed with discovery and that does excite me and I do identify with that. A good creative scientist is as good as a good creative artist.
- David Cronenberg "David Cronenberg by Bette Gordon", Bomb Magazine, (January 1, 1989).
- I don't withdraw a word of my initial statement. But I do now think it may have been incomplete. There is perhaps a fifth category, which may belong under "insane" but which can be more sympathetically characterized by a word like tormented, bullied, or brainwashed. Sincere people who are not ignorant, not stupid, and not wicked can be cruelly torn, almost in two, between the massive evidence of science on the one hand, and their understanding of what their holy book tells them on the other. I think this is one of the truly bad things religion can do to a human mind. There is wickedness here, but it is the wickedness of the institution and what it does to a believing victim, not wickedness on the part of the victim himself.
- Richard Dawkins "Ignorance Is No Crime", Free Inquiry 21 (3), Summer 2001, ISSN 0272-0701
- Regarding his 1989 statement "It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)."
- Oh yes, friend! I'm crazy- that's just the way I am.
- Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Lunatic
- In women, courage is often mistaken for insanity.
- Doctor in Iron Jawed Angels.
- Great wits are sure to madness near alli'd.
- John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681).
- I should really like to think there’s something wrong with me —
- Because, if there isn’t then there’s something wrong,
- Or at least, very different from what it seemed to be,
- With the world itself—and that’s much more frightening!
- T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party (1949)
- Bugfuck; you had to be crazy like Robert E. Howard or H.P. Lovecraft to write like that.
- Harlan Ellison comments in the 1979 Comics Journal leading to a lawsuit by Michael Fleisher
- We parry and fend the approach of our fellow-man by compliments, by gossip, by amusements, by affairs. We cover up our thought from him under a hundred folds. I knew a man who under a certain religious frenzy cast off this drapery, and omitting all compliment and commonplace, spoke to the conscience of every person he encountered, and that with great insight and beauty. At first he was resisted, and all men agreed he was mad. But persisting—as indeed he could not help doing—for some time in this course, he attained to the advantage of bringing every man of his acquaintance into true relations with him. No man would think of speaking falsely with him, or of putting him off with any chat of markets or reading-rooms. But every man was constrained by so much sincerity to the like plain dealing, and what love of nature, what poetry, what symbol of truth he had, he did certainly show him. But to most of us society shows not its face and eye, but its side and its back. To stand in true relations with men in a false age is worth a fit of insanity, is it not?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Friendship,” Essays: First Series, Complete Works (1883), vol. 2, pp. 194-195
- You are right, Mr. Bond.
That is just what I am, a maniac.
All the greatest men are maniacs.
They are possessed by a mania that drives them towards their goal.
The great scientists, the philosophers, the religious leaders — all maniacs.
- Ian Fleming, through "author surrogate" Dr. Julius No in Dr. No (1958).
- The constitution of madness as a mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, affords the evidence of a broken dialogue, posits the separation as already effected, and thrusts into oblivion all those stammered, imperfect words without fixed syntax in which the exchange between madness and reason was made. The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue of reason about madness, has been established only on the basis of such a silence.
- Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization, preface to the 1961 edition
- Many psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity. They hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of ‘unadjusted’ individuals, and not of a possible unadjustment of the culture itself.
- Erich Fromm, The Sane Society
- The judge who sits over the murderer and looks into his face, and at one moment recognizes all the emotions and potentialities and possibilities of the murderer in his own soul and hears the murderer’s voice as his own, is at the next moment one and indivisible as the judge, and scuttles back into the shell of his cultivated self and does his duty and condemns the murderer to death. And if ever the suspicion of their manifold being dawns upon men of unusual powers and of unusually delicate perceptions, so that, as all genius must, they break through the illusion of the unity of the personality and perceive that the self is made up of a bundle of selves, they have only to say so and at once the majority puts them under lock and key, calls science to aid, establishes schizomania and protects humanity from the necessity of hearing the cry of truth from the lips of these unfortunate persons.
- Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf, B. Creighton, trans., (New York: 1990), pp. 58-59
- Hitler went on to cite “as examples . . . cases in which the mentally ill could only be bedded on sand or sawdust because they continually befouled themselves,” and in which “patients put their own excrement into their mouths, eating it and so on.” Hitler pointed out that in this way “a certain saving in hospitals, doctors, and nursing personnel could be brought about.”
- Adolf Hitler; as quoted by Robert Lifton (1986). The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-04904-2.
- Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind over tasked. Good mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if anything is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or reverse their motion. A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat at the Breakfast Table (1858), Chapter II.
- The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad.
- With regard to nuclear weapons, the situation is far more dangerous than the last Doomsday Clock report. New weapons systems under development are much more effectively dangerous. The Biden administration, expanding upon Trump’s confrontational approach, has Chomsky at a loss for words to describe the danger at hand. Only recently, Biden met with NATO leaders and instructed them to plan on two wars, China and Russia. According to Chomsky: “This is beyond insanity.” Not only that, the group is carrying out provocative acts when diplomacy is really needed. This is an extraordinarily dangerous situation.
- If we are all insane, then all insanity becomes a matter of degree. If your insanity leads you to carve up women like Jack the Ripper or the Cleveland Torso Murderer, we clap you away in the funny farm (except neither of those two amateur-night surgeons were ever caught, heh-heh-heh); if, on the other hand, your insanity leads you only to talk to yourself when you're under stress or to pick your nose on your morning bus, then you are left alone to go about your business...although it's doubtful that you will ever be invited to the best parties.
- Stephen King, Danse Macabre (1981).
- Recently, the press has been filled with reports of sightings of flying saucers. While we need not give credence to these stories, they allow our imagination to speculate on how visitors from outer space would judge us. I am afraid they would be stupefied at our conduct. They would observe that for death planning we spend billions to create engines and strategies for war. They would also observe that we spend millions to prevent death by disease and other causes. Finally they would observe that we spend paltry sums for population planning, even though its spontaneous growth is an urgent threat to life on our planet. Our visitors from outer space could be forgiven if they reported home that our planet is inhabited by a race of insane men whose future is bleak and uncertain.
- He was a madman, but there is an audience for even the rantings of madness, I suppose.
- Paul Kupperberg, Walk Upon the Waters in Brian Thomsen & Martin H. Greenberg (eds.) Oceans of Magic (2001), p. 243
- Ignorance is a kind of insanity in the human animal. People who delight in torturing defenseless children or tiny creatures are in reality insane. The terrible thing is that people who are madmen in private may wear a totally bland and innocent expression in public.
- A child born today in the United Kingdom stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university … This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.
- R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience.
- For many years he has not breathed the air,
The wholesome open air ; the sun, the moon,
The stars, the clouds, the fair blue heaven, the spring,
The flowers, the trees, and the sweet face of man,
Song, or words yet more musical than song,
Affections, feelings, social intercourse
(Unless remembered in his fairy dreams)
Have all been strangers to his solitude ! —
A curse is set on him, like poverty,
Or leprosy, or the red plague, but worse, —
The heart has sent its fire up to the brain,
And he is mad.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The London Literary Gazette (5th April 1823), POETICAL CATALOGUE OF PICTURES. - 'A Maniac visited by his Family in confinement : by Davis.'
- You know, all insanity is a form of artistic expression, I often think. Only the person has nothing but himself to work with—he can’t get at outside materials to manipulate them—so he puts all his art into his behavior.
- Fritz Leiber, Our Lady of Darkness (1977), Chapter 10
- I sometimes wonder if you are quite sane, Raoul…You always take things in such an impossible way!
- Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera (1910), Chapter 11
- It might be crazy to expect a high government official to speak the truth. It might be crazy to believe that government policy will be something more than the handmaiden of the most powerful interests. It might be crazy to argue that we should preserve a tradition that has been part of our tradition for most of our history — free culture.
If this is crazy, then let there be more crazies. Soon.
- There is a thin line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.
- Oscar Levant, as quoted in Celebrity Register : An Irreverent Compendium of American Quotable Notables (1959) by Cleveland Amory ; also paraphrased as "There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line".
- It is the night-black Massachusetts legendry which packs the really macabre 'kick', Here is the material for a really profound study in group neuroticism; for certainly, no one can deny the existence of a profoundly morbid streak in the Puritan imagination....The very pre-ponderance of passionately pious men in the colony was virtually an assurance of unnatural crime; insomuch as psychology now proves the religious instinct to be a form of transmuted eroticism precisely parallel to the transmutations in other directions which respectively produce such things as sadism, hallucination, melancholia, and other mental morbidities. Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity. This was aggravated, of course, by the Puritan policy of rigorously suppressing all the natural outlets of excuberant feeling--music, laughter, colour, pageantry, and so on. To observe Christmas Day was once a prison offence....
- H.P. Lovecraft, letter to Robert E. Howard, (October 4, 1930), 
- The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
- H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
- Madness and insanity are two terms that are so vague and relative that you can’t really apportion proper values to them. The only thing I can think of that has any use it functional and dysfunctional. Are you working as well? In which case, it doesn’t matter if you are mad.
- Bobby asked him what it was like to be insane. “There is nothing that being insane is like,” Rupert replied.
- James Morrow, The War of the Worldviews (2002). Originally published in Mars Probes, reprinted in Karen Haber & Robert Silverberg (ed.) Science Fiction: The Best of 2002, p. 272
- Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results
- 1981 text from Narcotics Anonymous
- Für mich ist die Vorstellung untragbar, dass beste, blühende Jugend an der Front ihr Leben lassen muss, damit verblichene Asoziale und unverantwortliche Antisoziale ein gesichertes Dasein haben.
- It is unbearable to me that the flower of our youth must lose their lives at the front, while that feeble-minded and asocial element can have a secure existence in the asylum.
- Hermann Pfannmüller; as quoted in Baader, Gerhard (2009). "Psychiatrie im Nationalsozialismus zwischen ökonomischer Rationalität und Patientenmord [Psychiatry in National Socialism: Between Economic Rationality and Patient Murder]" (PDF). Geschichte der Psychiatrie: Nationalsocialismus und Holocaust Gedächtnis und Gegenwart (PDF). geschichtederpsychiatrie.at. Retrieved 12 March 2017. pp. 18–27.
- I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.
- Edgar Allan Poe, Letter to George W. Eveleth (4 Jan 1848)
- I was feeling like mad
by the melody of birds
singing out of tune
in the settlements
where travels lose
their own destinations.
- Suman Pokhrel, Among freed Bonded-Labourers
- Without asking anybody’s advice
I turned myself insane.
- Suman Pokhrel, Before Making Decisions
- In how many minds
should I go crazy?
whom should I ask?
- Suman Pokhrel, Before Making Decision
- I believed all along,
everyone would go mad
just to see me sane.
- In the Puranas it was predicted that toward the end of Kali Yuga humanity would be driven to acts of madness. It is very dangerous that people do not recognize this state, for while it is possible to cure a patient who does not resist treatment, if he struggles against it the beneficial effects of the medicine will be diminished. But how do you explain to people that their leaders and their teachers are insane? ...such mental confusion fully corresponds with the end of Kali Yuga... Most people hate the messenger who brings knowledge... let them at least remember the warning that humanity is acting insanely. The Thinker warned, “Do not fall into madness.”
- Helena Roerich, Supermundane, 285 (1938)
- I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff— I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy.
- Mental soundness is merged in unsoundness by degrees of decadence which are so small as to be practically inappreciable
- Scientific American Supplement No. 299 (September 24, 1881)
- There is no great genius without some touch of madness.
- Seneca, On Tranquility of the Mind.
- In physics, we use the same laws to explain why airplanes fly, and why they crash. In psychiatry, we use one set of laws to explain sane behaviour, which we attribute to reasons (choices), and another set of laws to explain insane behaviour, which we attribute to causes (diseases). Thomas Szasz
- The only difference between the Sane and the Insane, is IN and yet within this world, the Sane have the power to have the Insane locked up. Hunter S. Thompson
- Only people who are in a deeply negative state, who feel very bad indeed, would create such a reality as a reflection of how they feel. Now they are engaged in destroying nature and the planet that sustains them. Unbelievable but true. Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species. That's not a judgment. It's a fact. It is also a fact that the sanity is there underneath the madness. Healing and redemption are available right now.
- See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always non-acceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
- Most humans are still in the grip of the egoic mode of consciousness: identified with their mind and run by their mind. If they do not free themselves from their mind in time, they will be destroyed by it. They will experience increasing confusion, conflict, violence, illness, despair, madness. Egoic mind has become like a sinking ship. If you don't get off, you will go down with it. The collective egoic mind is the most dangerously insane and destructive entity ever to inhabit this planet.
- If it weren't for alcohol, tranquilizers, antidepressants, as well as the illegal drugs, which are all consumed in vast quantities, the insanity of the human mind would become even more glaringly obvious than it is already. I believe that, if deprived of their drugs, a large part of the population would become a danger to themselves and others. These drugs, of course, simply keep you stuck in dysfunction. Their widespread use only delays the breakdown of the old mind structures and the emergence of higher consciousness. While individual users may get some relief from the daily torture inflicted on them by their minds, they are prevented from generating enough conscious presence to rise above thought and so find true liberation.
- If a word doesn't work for you anymore, then drop it and replace it with one that does work. If you don't like the word sin, then call it unconsciousness or insanity. That may get you closer to the truth, the reality behind the word, than a long-misused word like sin, and leaves little room for guilt.
- Open your eyes and see the fear, the despair, the greed, and the violence that are all-pervasive. See the heinous cruelty and suffering on an unimaginable scale that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other as well as on other life forms on the planet. You don't need to condemn. Just observe. That is sin. That is insanity.
- If you are trapped in a nightmare you will probably be more strongly motivated to awaken than someone who is just caught in the ups and downs of an ordinary dream.
- Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997) p. 101
- Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry, or hard-done-by person. You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. It is also insane.
- Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997) p. 119
- All inner resistance is experienced as negativity in one form or another. All negativity is resistance. In this context, the two words are almost synonymous. Negativity ranges from irritation or impatience to fierce anger, from a depressed mood or sullen resentment to suicidal despair. Sometimes the resistance triggers the emotional pain-body, in which case even a minor situation may produce intense negativity, such as anger, depression, or deep grief. The ego believes that through negativity it can manipulate reality and get what it wants. It believes that through it, it can attract a desirable condition or dissolve an undesirable one.
- Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (1997) p. 119
- The Arising New Consciousness. Most ancient religions and spiritual traditions share the common insight – that our “normal” state of mind is marred by a fundamental defect. However, out of this insight into the nature of the human condition – we may call it the bad news – arises a second insight: the good news of the possibility of a radical transformation of human consciousness. In Hindu teachings (and sometimes in Buddhism also), this transformation is called enlightenment. In the teachings of Jesus, it is salvation, and in Buddhism, it is the end of suffering. Liberation and awakening are other terms used to describe this transformation.
- The greatest achievement of humanity is not its works of art, science, or technology, but the recognition of its own dysfunction, its own madness. In the distant past, this recognition already came to a few individuals. A man called Gautama Siddhartha, who lived 2,600 years ago in India, was perhaps the first who saw it with absolute clarity. Later the title Buddha was conferred upon him. Buddha means “the awakened one.” At abut the same time, another of humanity’s early awakened teachers emerged in China. His name was Lao Tzu. He left a record of his teaching in the form of one of the most profound spiritual books ever written, the Tao Te Ching. To recognize one’s own insanity, is of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.
- Until now, human intelligence, which is no more than a minute aspect of universal intelligence, has been distorted and misused by the ego. I call that “intelligence in the service of madness.” Splitting the atom requires great intelligence. Using that intelligence for building and stockpiling atom bombs is insane or at best extremely unintelligent. Stupidity is relatively harmless, but intelligent stupidity is highly dangerous. This intelligent stupidity, for which one could find countless obvious examples, is threatening our survival as a species.
- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, (2005)
- We might liken the 'two selves' to Laurel and Hardy. Ollie is the objective mind, 'you'. Stan is the subjective mind, the 'hidden you'. But Stan happens to be in control of your energy supply. So if you wake up feeling low and discouraged, you (Ollie) tend to transmit your depression to Stan, who fails to send you energy, which makes you feel lower than ever. This vicious circle is the real cause of most mental illness.
- Colin Wilson in Super Consciousness, p. 121 (2009)
“A Rational and Practical Classification of Insanity” (July 9th, 1863)
David Skae, “A Rational and Practical Classification of Insanity”, Address Delivered at the Royal College of Physicians at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums on (July 9th, 1863)
- At one point I thought of directing your attention to the medico-legal relations of Insanity, with a special reference to the oproprium which has so often been thrown upon medical witnesses for the unseemly differences and contradictions displayed by them in our courts of law in questions as to the existence of Imbecility and Insanity.
I have strong conviction that these differences and contradictions are entirely due to the “lawers”, and the very imperfect and erroneous legal defintions of Idiocy and Insanity, and nor to the “Doctors”. And I think we ought, both as individuals and as an Association, to use all our energies and influence to bring about a revision of the legal distinctions regarding Insanity, so as to get their distinctions and definitions in conformity with ours, or, more correctly speaking, in conformity with nature and facts;-with those descriptions and distinctions which we have derived from the careful study of mental disease. Let the legal responsibility, or legal capacities of each class so recognized, be at the same time fixed and determined by law, and then-and then only-will the greater part of the difficulties and discrepancies of medical testimony entirely disappear.
- From my own personal experience, then, and from what I have observed in the practical experience of others-of the many distinguished and talented young men who have studies Insanity under my care,-it has always struck me, that the moment they came into actual persona contact with the insane, all their preconceived notions of Insanity derived from our systematic works were found to be vague, misty, and purely conventional descriptions of what they actually saw. Acute Mania, instead of being the frightfully agonizing picture drawn by Chiauggi, was only presented to them in the transient and babbling excitement of a harmless and frightened, but dirty unifying, and destructive patient. The gradations between Acute Mania and Mania, and Chronic Mania and Dementia have osme degree of noise and destructiveness, they found to be so gradual, that it was very difficult, and, in fact, only a conventional matter to say where the one beganand the other ended. In “Idiots” and “Dements” they found every degree of mental impairment-from simple loss of memory and slight childishness, to total fatuity, and obliteration of all the mental faculties. Among the so-called “Monomaniacs”, thy found very few who were “Monomaniacs” at all : most of them were insane on severalsubjects, although presenting some more “salient” feature”, such as the fear of poison, hanging, or eternal damnation, or the belief of exalted rank or enormous wealth or power. Many of them had no delusions at all; and gradually we began to discover that the “Moral Insanity”,which was confined to our text-books to a few cases of homicidal and suicidal impulse, ran through every variety of Insanity as at present classified,-so that we found Acute Mania and Chronic Mania, and Melancholia and Monomania or Self-esteem or Pride, and of Fear, all existing without any delusions.
- The next point which has struck me in my experience, both in respect to others and myself, whether as regards cases placed under our care, or cases in regard to which were asked to give our opinion in consultation, is the mode in which we all very soon come to look at any new case. We do not ask ourselves, nor do we seek to determine by the questions we put to the patient or his friends, what the nosological name of his particular form of Insanity is. What we are solicitous to know is the “natural history” of the disease before us, and its cause. Is it a Congenital disease? It is one associated with Epilepsy caused by masturbation, by paturation, or protracted lactation, or some other debilitating cause, or by hard drinking? Is it a case of orgnaic Brain disease, or General Paralysis? Is it one connected with Phthisis-with the critical period, or with the atheromatous vessels of the brain of the Senile Dement? Such are the kind of questions we seek to solve, in order to form a diagnosis of the nature of the case, and in order to enable us to answer the anxious inquiries of friend as to its probable termination ; and such instinctively and practically are the data upon which we classify the cases, which are placed under our case, in our own minds.
Why, then, should we adopt another ground of classification in our tables and text-books? And why should we perpetuate a nomenclature so indefinite and conventional, and which has no other foundation upon which to rest than an imperfect, of not an obsolete, system of psychology? Were our physiology of the Brain as perfect as that of the Lungs-were we able to predicate what particular portion of the Brain was affected in each case of Insanity-I cannot see how our present mode of classifying the varieties of the disease (according to the character of the mental symptoms) would ever be one of practical utility. We do not classify the various disease in which delirium is present by the character of the mental affection l we do not describe acute or violent delirium, or muttering delirium, or fugacious and wandering delirium, or coma, as “diseases” ; we describe the diseases upon which they depend, of some of which we know as little as we do of Insanity, but of which we know at least the natural history,- the origin, course, and probable termination ; and we describe, accordingly, inflammatory fewer, typhus and typhoid fevers, phthisis, uraemic poisoning, and the other diseases of which these different forms of delirium are only symptoms. Why should we proeed upon another principle in regard to Insanity? Why should we attempt to group and classify the varieties of Insanity by the “mental” symptoms, and not, as we do in other disease, by the “bodily disease” of which those mental perversions are but the signs?
- My proposition, then, is this-that we ought to classify all the varieties of Insanity to use a botanical term, in their natural orders or families; or, to use a phrase more familiar to the Physician’s er, that we should group them in accordance with the “natural history” or each.
Now, I observe, in starting, that wherever we have a very “distinct” natural history of any form of Insanity, we at present always refer it to its natural order, without reference to the character of the mental disorder. All our Epileptics are classified “as such”, whether they are demented or Monomaniacs, or subject to paroroxyms of Acute Mania. It is Insanity with epilepsy. “Puerperal Mania” forms a distinct group whether the patient is maniacal, suicidal, or melancholic. “General Paralysis” afford another group, and none of us ever think of referring a General Paralytic to any other group than that of the natural family to which he belongs, whether is maniacal a man of exalted wealth and rank, a melancholic, or a dement. Is it not possible to extend the same rational and practical method of classification to all the other varieties of Insanity? I do think it can be done, at least to a very great extent; and I do think that this is, in the present state of our knowledge, the only rational and really practical basis of classification.
- The first natural group is obviously “Idiocy”, including Imbecility under all its various forms and degrees, until we come down, or up rather, to the mere mild Dundrearyism of an effete and degenerate race. To this class must be referred a large number of cases of “moral idiocy and imbecility”, many of which at present get mixed up, by our present mode of classification, among the Insane, as Monomaniacs of various kinds. Such are many cases, familiar to all of you, of congenital moral perversion, instinctive cruelty, and destructiveness and theft. Many of our most noted Kleptomaniacs have had the tendency from childhood, and have been “moral imbeciles”. In fact, as far as a I know, all of them have been so ; when we meet with Kleptomania in cases of Insanity” it is only as one of many other symptoms, as when we find it associated, as often do, with General Paralysis.
I would refer all those cases of Insanity, which are hut the development and aggravation of a congenital moral perversion, or want of balance, to the class of congenital moral imbeciles.
- The second natural group appears to me to be the Epileptics. Epilepsy is emphatically a disease of childhood, and when it is established at that period, it arrests the development of the Brain, and is associated with Idiocy and Imbecility. In other cases, we have it associated with maniacal paroxysms, Monomania, or Dementia, or total Fatuity. All the cases, whatever the mental symptoms may be, or however they may vary, as they often do, during the progress of the disease, still they form a distinct natural family, of which the epileptic seizures are the most prominent symptoms, and the causes of that state of the nervous system which conditions the mental derangement with which each case is complicated.
- The third natural family I would assign to the Masturbators. Although I designate this family by the cause only which originates the Insanity, yet I think it cannot be denied that that vice produces a group of symptoms which are quite characteristic and easily recognised, and give to the cases a special natural history ; — the peculiar imbecility and shy habits of the very youthful victim ; the suspicion, and fear, and dread, and suicidal impulses, and palpitations, and scared look, and feeble body, of the older offenders, passing gradually into Dementia or Fatuity, with other characteristic features familiar to all of you, and which I do not stop to enlarge on, — all combine to stamp and define this as a natural order or family.
- Next comes a well-known group, but with protean lineaments, yet familiar to all of us, cases of Hysterical Mania. I need not weary you by an attempt to describe its varied features, from cases of singular moral perversion, living without food, giving birth to mice and toads, passing all sorts of curious things with the urine, up through the long and singular forms it presents with varied sexual and erotic symptoms, until we find it presenting a truly maniacal aspect. You must know them all, and yet you recognise in all with readiness the Hysteria, which characterises every variety, and makes your prognosis and treatment so different from what, in the absence of that significant mark, it would have been. This is certainly a well-marked natural order.
- The Insanity of the critical period of life is a form very familiar to us ; and I have no doubt you have recognised a critical period in the male sex as well as in the female, — a period of life at which, in many men, great disturbance of the normal state of the feelings and emotions is experienced, in some instances amounting to an insanity of the same type as that generally met with in females at their critical period — namely, a monomania of fear, despondency, remorse, hopelessness, passing occasionally into Dementia. This variety I would designate as Climacteric Insanity.
There is a form of Insanity common to females, different from Hysterical Mania, or Nymphomania, and which, I think, is commonly associated with Ovarian disease, sometimes with uterine disease, and of which one of the most common symptoms is a sexual hallucination, — the belief that certain persons visit them and co- habit with them during the night, and other similar delusions. This form might be denominated Utero-mania, or Ovario-mania. It is, I think, par excellence the Insanity of old maids.
- The next natural order is doubtless Senile Insanity, occasionally commencing in the form of Mania, more frequently in the form of Melancholia, but most frequently during its whole course presenting the well known features of Dementia, in all its degrees, from simple impairment of the memory down to total Fatuity ; and de- pendent, I believe, upon an atheromatous condition of the vessels of the Brain, and the consequent changes which take place in the nutritive and reparative processes of the cerebral tissues. This form of Insanity I hope to see fully described in an early number of the Journal by my friend Dr Yellowlees.
- I would strongly press upon you this view of the subject, — one to which I have already referred, that this is, in fact, the stand- point from which we all instinctively view a case of Insanity, when called upon as practical men to form a diagnosis, or offer a prognosis, upon any case submitted to us for the first time. We ask ourselves, is this a case of congenital moral perversion or intellectual deficiency? Is it one connected with masturbation, with pubescence, with hysteria, with phthisis, with drinking, with uterine disease, with brain disease, and so forth ? If this is true, surely this is at least the practical basis upon which to form a Classification of the Insane; and if not the most scientific, it is certainly more so than the present poor, uncertain, and conventional one, or perhaps than any one which can be founded upon a physiological or psychological basis, in our present very imperfect knowledge of the physiology of the Brain. It has this especial merit, at least — that it ever keeps before us the all-important principle, that Insanity is a disease of the body, whether it be of some remote organ sympathetically acting on the mind, or of the material organ of the mind itself.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 396-97.
- Like men condemned to thunderbolts,
Who, ere the blow, become mere dolts.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part III (1678), Canto II, line 565.
- Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'Tis the majority
In this, as all, prevails
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you're straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.
- Emily Dickinson, Poems, XI. (Ed. 1891).
- For those whom God to ruin has designed
He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.
- John Dryden, Fables, The Hind and the Panther (1687), Part III, line 2,387.
- There is a pleasure, sure,
In being mad, which none but madmen know!
- John Dryden, Spanish Friar, Act II, Stanza 1.
- The alleged power to charm down insanity, or ferocity in beasts, is a power behind the eye.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, Conduct of Life. Of Behaviour.
- At dæmon, homini quum struit aliquid malum,
Pervertit illi primitus mentem suam.
- But the devil when he purports any evil against man, first perverts his mind.
- Euripides, fragment 25. Barnes Ed. Attributed to Athenagorus. Also ed. pub. at Padua, 1743–53, Volume X, p. 268. The Translator. P. Carmeli, gives the Italian as: Quondo vogliono gli Dei far perire alcuno, gli tiglie la mente.
- But when Fate destines one to ruin it begins by blinding the eyes of his understanding.
- James Fraser, Short History of the Hindostan Emperors of the Moghol Race (1742), p. 57. See also story of the Christian Broker. Arabian Nights. Lane's translation. Ed. 1859, Volume I, p. 307.
- Mad as a March hare.
- James Halliwell-Phillipps, Archaic Diet, Volume II. Art. "March Hare." Heywood—Proverbs, Part II, Chapter V. Skelton—Replycacion Agaynst Certayne Yong Scolers, etc, line 35.
- Doceo insanire omnes.
- I teach that all men are mad.
- Horace, Satires, II. 3. 81.
- Nimirum insanus paucis videatur, eo quod
Maxima pars hominum morbo jactatur eodem.
- He appears mad indeed but to a few, because the majority is infected with the same disease.
- Horace, Satires, II. �. 120.
- Quisnam igitur sanus? Qui non stultus.
- Who then is sane? He who is not a fool.
- Horace, Satires, II. 3. 158.
- O major tandem parcas, insane, minori.
- Oh! thou who art greatly mad, deign to spare me who am less mad.
- Horace, Satires, II. 3. 326.
- I demens! et sævas curre per Alpes,
Ut pueris placeas et declamatio fias.
- Go, madman! rush over the wildest Alps, that you may please children and be made the subject of declamation.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), X, 166.
- O, hark! what mean those yells and cries?
His chain some furious madman breaks;
He comes—I see his glaring eyes;
Now, now, my dungeon grate he shakes.
Help! Help! He's gone!—O fearful woe,
Such screams to hear, such sights to see!
My brain, my brain,—I know, I know
I am not mad but soon shall be.
- Matthew Gregory Lewis ("Monk Lewis"), The Maniac.
- Id commune malum; semel insanivimus omnes.
- It is a common calamity; at some one time we have all been mad.
- Baptista Mantuanus, Eclogue I.
- It’s a jungle out there
Poison in the very air we breathe
Do you know what’s in the water that you drink?
Well I do, and it’s amazing
People think I’m crazy, ’cause I worry all the time
If you paid attention, you’d be worried too
You better pay attention
Or this world we love so much might just kill you
I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so!
- Monk (TV series) theme song, written by Randy Newman
- My dear Sir, take any road, you can't go amiss. The whole state is one vast insane asylum.
- James L. Petigru, on being asked the way to the Charleston, South Carolina Insane Asylum (1860).
- Hei mihi, insanire me ajunt, ultro cum ipsi insaniunt.
- They call me mad, while they are all mad themselves.
- Plautus, Menæchmi, V, 2, 90.
- Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiæ fuit.
- There has never been any great genius without a spice of madness.
- Seneca, De Animi Tranquillitate, XV. 10.
- Quid est dementius quam bilem in homines collectam in res effundere.
- What is more insane than to vent on senseless things the anger that is felt towards men?
- Seneca, De Ira, II. 26.
- Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
That he is mad, 'tis true, 'tis true 'tis pity;
And pity 'tis 'tis true.
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act II, scene 2, line 96.
- Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act II, scene 2, line 208.
- It shall be so:
Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act III, scene 1, line 196.
- I am not mad; I would to heaven I were!
For then, 'tis like I should forget myself.
- William Shakespeare, King John (1598), Act III, scene 4, line 48.
- We are not ourselves
When nature, being oppress'd, commands the mind
To suffer with the body.
- William Shakespeare, King Lear (1608), Act II, scene 4, line 109.
- Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner?
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1605), Act I, scene 3, line 83.
- You will never run mad, niece;
No, not till a hot January.
- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (1598-99), Act I, scene 1, line 93.
- Fetter strong madness in a silken thread.
- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (1598-99), Act V, scene 1, line 25.
- Quem Jupiter vult perdere, dementat primus.
- Whom Jupiter would destroy he first drives mad.
- Sophocles, Antigone, Johnson's ed. (1758), line 632. Sophocles quotes it as a saying. The passage in Antigone is explained by Tricinius as "The gods lead to error him whom they intend to make miserable." Quoted by Athenagoras in Legat, p. 106. Oxon Ed. Found in a fragment of Æschylus preserved by Plutarch—De Audiend. Poet, p. 63. Oxon ed. See also Constantinus Manasses. Fragments, Book VIII, line 40. Ed. by Boissonade. (1819). Duport's Gnomologia Homerica, p. 282. (1660). Oracula Sibylliana, Book VIII, line 14. Leutsch and Schneidewin—Corpus Paræmiographorum Græcorum, Volume I, p. 444. Sextus Empiricus is given as the first writer to present the whole of the adage as cited by Plutarch. ("Concerning such whom God is slow to punish.") Hesiod—Scutum Herculis. V. 89. Note by Robinson gives it to Plato. See also Stobæus—Germ, II. de Malitia.
- Insanus omnis furere credit ceteros.
- Every madman thinks all other men mad.
- Syrus, Maxims.
- Mad as a hatter.
- William Makepeace Thackeray, Pendennis, Chapter X.
- A human creature deprived of reason, and disordered in his senses, is still an animal, or instrument possessing strength and ability to commit violence; but he is no more so than a mere mechanical machine, which, when put in motion, performs its powerful operations on all that comes in its way, without consciousness of its own effects, or responsibility for them. In like manner, the man under the influence of real madness, has properly no will, but does what he is not conscious or; sensible he is doing, and therefore cannot be made answerable for any consequences.
- Lord Eskgrove, Kinloch's Case (1795), 55 How. St. Tr. 1000; reported in The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 105.
- Hamlet, being charged with " coinage of the brain" answers:
- "It is not madness
- That I have uttered; bring me to the test,
And I the matter will re-word; which madness
Would gambol from."
- Madness, then, varies and fluctuates: it cannot "re-word"—if the poet's observation be well founded; and though the Court would not at all rely upon it as an authority, yet it knows from the information of a most eminent physician that this test of madness, suggested by this passage, was found, by experiment in a recent case, to be strictly applicable, and discovered the lurking disease.
- Sir John Nicholl, Groom v. Thomas (1829), 2 Hagg. Ecc. Rep. 452, 453; reported in The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 104-05. The reference goes on to say:
The Court was understood to allude to the case referred to in a note to p. 242, of the 10th number of the new series of the Quarterly Journal of Sciences and the Arts, London, 1829. "If the tests of insanity are matters of law, the practice of allowing experts to testify what they are should be discontinued; if they are matters of fact, the Judge should no longer testify without being sworn as a witness and showing himself qualified to testify as an expert."—Doe, J., State v. Pike, 49 New Hamp. Eep. 399 ; 6 Amer. Eep. 584.
- The Royal College has taken a very dubious function of intervening into the inner affairs of national psychiatric associations and using mentally-ill patients for political purposes. I sincerely hope that none of the members… seriously believes that in the Soviet Union mentally-healthy people could be forcibly put into mental hospitals.
- Andrei Snezhnevsky as quoted by Bloch, Sidney; Reddaway, Peter (1977). Russia's political hospitals: The abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union.
- Is not this insanity plea becoming rather common? Is it not so common that the reader confidently expects to see it offered in every criminal case that comes before the courts? [...] Really, what we want now, is not laws against crime, but a law against insanity.
- Mark Twain, "A New Crime" (1870), as reprinted in Essays and Sketches of Mark Twain (1995), ed. Stuart Miller, ISBN 1566198798
- Mad Hatter: You are trying to understand madness with logic. This is not unlike searching for darkness with a torch.
- Brian K. Vaughan, Detective Comics Vol 1 #787
- When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!
- Because the insanity defense is a key part of our criminal-justice system, which is founded on the belief that people normally choose whether or not to obey the law. Certain people, we have said historically, cannot make that choice, however, either because they are too young or because of severe mental retardation or mental illness. The insanity defense exists in practically every civilized country. It is not some kind of aberration, as some seem to be suggesting in the wake of the Hinckley verdict.
- Elyce Zenoff Ferster, answering an interview question in U.S. News & World Report, Volume 93 (1982), p. 15; reported in Alan F. Pater, Jason R. Pater, What They Said in 1982: The Yearbook of World Opinion (1983).
- ↑ [title=Mental illness: psychiatry's phlogiston | date= October 2001 | PMID: 11579183 PMCID: PMC1733452 DOI: 10.1136/jme.27.5.297]