Crazy people.

A social network (from the old-school form of social networking, pre-FB and all that) friend of mine made a comment in a thread yesterday that I felt deserved it’s own rambling thought process.

She said that she was more happy and more frightened by “Mental Health Week” than she was by “National Coming Out” day. This meant that, in her view, “crazy” people were now in the deeper closet than gay or bi people.

“Crazy” people have been a subject I’ve thought a lot about for a long time. I grew up in situations where the care-givers would today be classified as mentally ill. I remember reading books as a young person where characters were mentally ill for many different reasons, both fictional and non-fictional.

As an adult, I think that many forms of mental illness are not an illness at all. They are adaptations to the environment.

It does appear to be true that certain people have a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness. But if so many people are so easily genetically predisposed, doesn’t that mean something?

If we were able to “cure” all mental illnesses, what would that do to the human gene pool and the base of survival adaptations we might need if we are ever able to move to other planets?

I have a mental illness myself. I have PTSD from occurrences that lasted so long at such a formative age, then followed by adult trauma, then followed by just trying to survive, that by now my body knows no other way of reacting. It’s not just my brain chemistry, it’s 40 years of muscle memory, 40 years of mental responses.
I do not fit in this society. I’m jumping, at times I appear brusque, even rude, when I’m focused on something that has triggered me. I get upset and lose all patience when people don’t do what is required of them, because dependability of your team is the only way you survive. I know that most people don’t share this ingrained trait, and that they have no reason to believe it, so I don’t trust people, not because they’re bad people, but because I don’t want to expect more of them than they are equipped to give. I know that my functioning skills are different, not the norm, and that to hold other people to this standard is not reasonable. But it still means that I isolate myself to protect myself, and them.

Is this trait of mine “bad”? No. I don’t think so, just because there isn’t any place in storybook society for this trait to be useful doesn’t make it bad. If I were a colonist in a new land/world, this trait would be extremely useful.

I remember reading some sci-fi as a young adult, by Orsen Card I think, about a world where their leaders needed certain analytical traits to be able to make ruling decisions. So this society sought out predisposed individuals and applied situations that forced the “crazy” traits to the surface, I believe the trait they were using was OCD. There was another book where the characters went to great lengths to be able to split their personalities, schizophrenia,so they could use the different skills of their varus personalities; and being able to do so was a great achievement. Then their were the stories of the Vietnam veterans, stories of survival in prison camps, that I remember to this day. Stories of how they used their minds to “go away” into blankness, or to concentrate on something so completely that hours would pass in the time of a few minutes, or how they could translate the pain of the torture into sensations that the mind could accept without breaking. These people lived. Is that a “bad” trait?

I don’t know anything really about bi-polar or schizophrenia, but I can’t halp but wonder if there is a reason why those ways of being are so close to the surface of our genetic potential.

Of course none of this matters if we can’t keep a 9-5 job and pay the rent in our current only one form allowed society.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

     /  October 12, 2011

    We’re a cocktail of chemicals. Some shaken, some stirred. Some have an ingredient missing, some have too many ingredients. Some get bruised or overripe, or some have every thing just right. Sometime stuff happens when we too young,or too vulnerable. Beyond our control, or because it’s all our fault. An answer? Keep on the sunny side. Make what you have work for you. Make what you have make the world a less bad place than a minute ago. Jerryprism.


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