How to Be Mad

Madness takes many forms, and for all of them there exists a modicum of fear. As Andrew Smith once pointed out, humans tend to fear what they do not understand, and what could be harder to understand than the internal ramblings of someone else’s mind? The article The Touch of Madness systemically looks at one woman’s experience of slipping out of mind.

In it, we’re introduced to a character named Nev Jones, a highly gifted and hard-working student with an incredibly prosperous future. After a while, however, she begins to notice strange happenings, such as sidewalks “softening” under her feet and walls seeming insufficiently solid, so that she might blow on them and they’d crumble.

She’s later diagnosed with schizophrenia, though the diagnosis isn’t specified in it’s permanence. Jones’ doctor tentatively says it could be a short, non-persisting issue with minor bouts, or it could be a bit more grueling with longer, more extreme episodes. The only that’s certain is the variety of mental disease, all the little details are left open-ended.

This is a emerging practice of treating schizophrenia. As it turns out, for a patient already in an unstable state of mind, hearing such damning conclusions as they’re in it for the long haul, they’ve got a different state of mind, and need to be hospitalized can rock their proverbial boat more than diagnoses left open. The article explores further how even knowledge of a friend, classmate, relative with diagnosed schizophrenia can create unease and tension in various areas of life.

This is because madness is so personal, especially when relegated to the mind, that it becomes very unclear very quickly, and it’s that unknown-ness that we fear, and push away from. The article compares and contrasts the US nation where people are isolated and the psychological tears tend to be more extreme, whereas in other nations people are far less segregated away, and as a result, have better goes of it with less extreme perceived effects.

Only in Alice in Wonderland and other popular fiction are such mentalities celebrated.