A broken leg can be remembered and located: “It hurt right below my knee, it throbbed, I felt sick at my stomach.” But mental pain is remembered the way dreams are remembered — in fragments, unbidden realizations, like looking into a well and seeing the dim reflection of your face in that instant before the water shatters.
Things are always darkest just before they go pitch black.
There are now electrical appliances with the main unit so sealed in that it cannot be got at for repair. There have always been human beings like that.
Being considered or labeled mentally disordered — abnormal, crazy, mad, psychotic, sick, it matters not what variant is used — is the most profoundly discrediting classification that can be imposed on a person today. Mental illness casts the “patient” out of our social order just as surely as heresy cast the “witch” out of medieval society. That, indeed, is the very purpose of stigma terms.
I always made a point of telling the doctors I was sane, and asking to be released, but the more I endeavored to assure them of my sanity, the more they doubted it.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more [combat] missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.
Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. . . . I am liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.
But you learn to smother the living breathing soul, go deaf to it, and this violence to the self is what is commonly called sanity in the places where I have lived.
I hate to advocate drugs, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.
Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be breakthrough.
Why must every literary examination of Robert Lowell, of John Berryman, of Anne Sexton, of Jean Stafford, of so many writers and artists, keep perpetuating the notion that their individual pieces of genius were the result of madness? While it may be true that a great deal of art finds its inspirational wellspring in sorrow, let’s not kid ourselves about how much time each of those people wasted and lost by being mired in misery.
When you are insane, you are busy being insane — all the time. . . . When I was crazy, that was all I was.
Our schizophrenic patient is actually experiencing inadvertently that same beatific ocean deep which the yogi and saint are ever striving to enjoy: except that, whereas they are swimming in it, he is drowning.
You wanted to get well. . . . Asked your greatest wish in life, you would have replied at once — sanity. . . . In the world outside, people longed desperately to be millionaires, movie actors, club presidents. . . . But nowhere, nowhere save the madhouse, did mental health get its share of prayers.
You know what scares me? When you have to be nice to some paranoid schizophrenic, just because she lives in your head.
I may be a lunatic, but then, wasn’t my lunacy caused by a monster that lurks at the bottom of every human mind? Those who call me a madman and spurn me may become lunatics tomorrow. They harbor the same monster.
If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well.