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Is there a link between insanity and genius?

Insanity, genius, mental illness and madness are all labels we give to people who think and behave in ways that seem beyond, or outside what is seen as 'normal'.

Firsly, what is 'normal', and who labels it so?

Does 'mental illness' deserve such a label, or can so-called normality widen its scope to accept it as 'thinking differently' instead?

What and where is the demarcation line between madness and genius - and who draws that line?


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    Aug 27 2012: "As far as depression goes, folks, I gotta be honest with you... If somebody comes up to you and says, I think you might be clinically depressed. You should probably say "Well, thank you... That means I'm awake. Is there any indication I shouldn't be depressed? Are you living on the same planet I am right now? Do you ever think that depression may be the reasonable human response to the crap we're going through as a species... Meant to propel us into the next evolutionairy step?

    Do you ever think that's it? Do you ever think that maybe it's the people who are happy all the time, that are really screwed up in the head? Where's that spin? Where's that twist? Where's that angle? Maybe it's those people. The people who are like "God I don't understand it, I just feel great again". "Well... Really? That's creepy and weird, maybe you should be on medication. Clearly you're self centered, delusional, narcissistic... I don't know, but you're draining me with your happy. Could you move along... Cus' I'm doing the big work"

    Marc Maron http://youtu.be/KX1WrXskYDc
    • Aug 27 2012: There's the truth!

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      Aug 27 2012: Excellent point David!
      I don't do "depression", because I always KNOW I'm going to keep moving and flowing. I don't use the term "depression" when talking with anyone else about his/her state of being either, because I believe it has become a catch phrase which is perceived as a disorder.

      I say I am going "under ground" at times, which means that I become very quiet, introspective, sometimes solitary for awhile, and I am exploring "stuff" on many different levels. Sometimes it doesn't feel so good, and I KNOW I choose to experience that state of being.

      After a near fatal head injury for example, they wanted to keep me on antidepressants. I had also been diagnosed with cancer, was ending 24 years of marriage, my mother and father died....all around the same time. I refused antidepressants because my feeling was that I needed and wanted to face the challenges at some point in time. No point in taking antidepressants, which altered my ability to fully FEEL all that I was experiencing. Of course it was frightening, frustrating, confusing and the gamet of emotions at time. AND I KNEW that if I did not face all the "stuff", I could not move on in my life to my satisfaction.

      I think/feel that it is the ability to face the challenges on many different levels, that creates contentment in my life. From that place in ourselves, we build strength, confidence and self esteem, so I would not deny myself that opportunity. The "big work" as you say David, includes facing EVERYTHING. I'm curious to know how it serves you to tell people who experience happiness/contentment to "... move along... Cus' I'm doing the big work". Often, we don't know what battles a person has faced until we ask. Then we might learn that the happiness/contentment one is experiencing is BECAUSE of the challenges s/he may have faced in the life experience....yes? no? maybe?

      BTW...people somtimes tell me that I'm crazy....I say "thank you":>)
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        Aug 27 2012: The "big work" in that context, I believe means understanding that the society in which you live in has descended into a wasteland devoid of morality, and context. A society in which all military aged males, are enemy combatants. A society in which your tax dollars pay for Bradley Manning, an American citizen and hero, to be in jail for 3 years without conviction... so much for a speedy trial.

        A society in which the patriot act is law, and big brother is watching. A society in which most of the people in jail, are non violent drug addicts, and black. A society which allows Dick Cheney, and Rupert Murdoch to roam free. A society in which torture, and rendition are legal, and every paycheck you take in... pays for them.

        If you're happy with that society... There is probably something severely wrong with the chemical composition of your brain : p
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          Aug 27 2012: David,
          In my perception, the "big work" is being aware of all aspects of the life experience. To me, that means being aware of the information you provided above, as well as all other information. I believe that what I focus on expands. If I focus on a belief in "society as a "wastelend devoid of morality", that is the reality I create for myself ALL THE TIME.

          I think that balance is more beneficial. Knowing the information you speak of AND realizing that there is another perspective as well, which I choose to focus on. I believe in being part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

          For example, I'm not simply aware of the fact that 95% of those incarcerated are drug and or alcohal addicted...I'm not only aware of the fact that 1 in every 6 men in our world, many of whom are incarcerated, were sexually abused as children. I'm not only aware of these and other statistics, I also volunteered with the dept. of corrections for 6 years facilitating cognitive self change sessions.

          Perhaps you are right in that there may indeed be "something severely wrong with the chemical composition" of my brain...according to you. OR...perhaps it is the "right" chemical composition", and you have not yet discovered how life can be lived when in balance....recognizing the things we can change in our world with more positive reinforcement:>)

          I like being part of the solution. I don't like being part of the problem by focusing on what is "wrong" unless I'm willing to put in the time to contribute to making it "right". What are you doing in that respect?
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        Aug 27 2012: I have actually volunteered for numerous social organizations which at the time I believed were interested in setting things right... Now I am working on a small promotion company for a few green technologies.

        In general however, I surf at the poverty line, providing for myself, writing, rarely published. I worked for the immigration department part time as a contractor distributing immigration forms worldwide, for about 10 years. Simple labor, but it helps people get here legally. Now I'm hoping I'll make ten k a year convincing people to buy electric motorcycles, and electric skateboards.

        Couple scripts in the can, novel and collection of rants in the works, predominantly aimed at encouraging people to stop voting for psychopaths. I am not depressed and unproductive, I simply won't pay tax money to murderers, and in America, if I stay at the poverty line, I don't have to. I acknowledge that the society I live in is depressing, and thus I would suggest that insanity, is not even merely a sign of genius anymore... Simply competence, and consciousness.

        We live in a world where neither candidate running for office, has a solution, or plans to change, any of the problems I have listed. Yet 80% of people, who vote, will vote for one of them. It's embarassing... You don't have to get depressed, but certainly no one who participates in this society has any right to expect people to be happy. And no one contributing to it, has any right to call anyone else insane. If we fix this society, then we can start making those claims again... though they are a bit relativistic in nature to begin with. The part about your brain being broken was just meant to be funny Colleen, I very much respect your opinion... but you are a bit of a hippy daisy sometimes : p
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          Aug 27 2012: Good for you David, for being part of the solution:>)

          Yeah....I "surf at the poverty line too"....so what? I planned well for my financial future, then the market was challenged, and that causes me to be challenged. HOWEVER, I've faced challenges before, so it's ok:>)

          The good thing, is that we have so many choices! I don't think "the society" is depressing, and if you do, I agree to disagree:>)

          We cannot do anything about who runs for offices, nor can we do anything about who votes, or why they vote as they do. We can run ourselves (which I did once), we can wholeheartedly support people we believe in who are running, and we can vote.

          I don't "expect" anyone to be happy. The only one I can control is myself, and I do the best to stay content:>)

          I know the part about the brain being broken was a joke. You've told me several times that you respect my opinion, and I FOCUS ON THAT!!! LOL:>)

          I AM INDEED A HIPPY DAISY......don't you love it???
          I taught myself to play the guitar in the early 60s, and by the time I was 17 I was singing and playing guitar in bars and lounges. Joan Baez was my role model....absolutely....flowers in the long flowing hair...singing peace songs!!! You are very insightful to notice that my friend:>) Imagine my delight, when I met Joan a few years ago and spent the evening with her and a bunch of other folks I was equally honored to meet and spend time with.....what fun!!! Maybe I'm insane...maybe I'm a genius......maybe I'm simply living life with gusto in each and every moment:>)
    • Aug 27 2012: Interesting concept David, that depression is the natural response to a declining civilisation.

      Please help me out because I'm not that bright. When was the peak of human civilisation again? You know, that time when our ancestors had it so much better than we do... I just can't see it.

      By the way, in psychology they refer to depression in the face of adversity as 'learned helplessness', it is an emotional state in which the subject no longer makes any attempt to improve the situation or alleviate the adverse conditions being imposed on them even after the conditions change and action could be effective.

      So when you ask 'Do you ever think that depression may be the reasonable human response', my answer is a resounding no. It's an understandable response but in no way is it a reasonable response.

      If your reaction to injustices in the world is depression you are no use to any cause that may wish to right the wrong. There will always be wrong in the world, and it's being tackled by those that don't curl up into a depressed ball and lament the state of the world.
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        Aug 27 2012: Personally, for Americans I would argue we had it best in the Clinton era, though the man made several mistakes for which we are now paying. In general, worldwide, things are getting much better, but America, as a nation, was much less violent, xenophobic, and anti science, a mere 12 years ago.

        Also, American citizens had rights, back then, we couldn't be searched or recorded without warrant. We couldn't be imprisoned without trial. We weren't training 18 year old children to kill people with video game controllers attached to flying killer robots.

        I was 18 when 9/11 happened, and America began it's downward decline, into violent madness. Since then, I have felt no desire, to contribute more than exactly what I need to, in order to survive. Volunteering however, is different. I am depressed, because I have learned that far too many people in my country are blissfully, and intentionally unaware, of the major issues we face, so I know that I am helpless to heal the society I live in, and it is doomed to decline.

        Human civillization however, will continue to flourish, and if my ideas can foster that, great. If I'm wrong about being helpless, I am still working for the cause, so I will turn out to be very usefull. To think you as an individual, can completely change a society, that is intentionally burying it's head in the sand is depressing and a bit crazy. I will continue to be a bit crazy, because, hiding my head in the sand to maintain happiness would not help the cause.
        • Aug 28 2012: Fluctuations due to temporary political changes have always occurred, that doesn't describe a trend.

          It's not too far back to the cold war era, as an outside observer I would say your current state of events are far less paranoid and xenophobic than the cold war period.

          I think perhaps you have a rosier picture of the state of your nation in previous times. 18 year olds have always been trained to kill, the draft starts at 18 then moves up by age.

          Civil rights are always fluctuating and have not been significantly eroded in practice in the past decade or so. You have far more scrutiny of changes and breaches to civil rights a la social media and Wikileaks, and civil liberties organisations are stronger and more vocal than ever.

          Everyone has a camera phone now so police are forced to moderate their behaviour.

          I suspect the very mechanisms in place to broadcast violations of civil and human rights is the reason many think these violations are on the rise, whereas the exact opposite may be the case. We are becoming more aware of violations of rights and this discussion and publicising of breaches is what brings it to the forefront of your nations psyche (which is a good thing, but leads some to believe violations are on the rise).

          As for America's decline... maybe, maybe not, hard to tell. I can say this though, as 'atrocious' as America's human rights record may be, their decline will be countered by the rise of china, which is on a totally different level when it comes to rights.
      • Aug 28 2012: Depression = Learned helplessness?

        That's a new one on me.

        What kind of psychology do they teach in Australia?

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