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Can we really identify if someone is crazy or not?

Being crazy actually has no boundary at all. An "eccentric" behavior condemned in one culture may be highly welcomed in another. How to define "norm"? And how to define "craziness"? A person who transcends the limitation of the environment he or she lives in may be called "crazy". Like 1000 years ago no one ever will think about using cell phone to connect with others. So is it necessary for us to explore the world of those so called crazy people ? What may be the potential benefit and what may be the potential harm?


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  • Aug 20 2011: My mother has schizophrenia and when you really break it down and do research on it what you find out is that the level of stimuli required to reach a conclusion is much lower than it would be in someone who is not afflicted with such disease causing them to react to things we would not react to.

    For example, if she were to walk into the living room and the couch was 2 inches to the left, she may think "the couch seems to be in a different place, i do not remember moving it, my doors were locked, maybe someone broke in and moved it, maybe god moved it to tell me something, or people are breaking into my house moving my furniture, i should be scared because if they can move my furniture maybe they want to hurt me, i am going to sleep with a gun under my pillow tonight just in case because i can't let them hurt me"

    if i were to walk into the same room with the couch moved i might think "the couch is in a different place, did i move it and forget? did someone else move it? i was here alone with the doors locked, it doesn't look like anyone else was in here, i wonder if i bumped into it and didn't notice, or maybe it was always there and i am just remembering it wrong, either way, it doesn't really matter because there does not appear any imminent danger from the couch being moved and i have other things to do so forget why and move on"

    Why this happens science still does not have an answer but all my research has told me this.. there is definitely a scale of what we will take as proof of a threat and how likely we are to react, and to paraphrase the wise Richard Dawkins "in terms of survival it was almost always better to get spooked and run from wind in the grass thinking you saw a snake than to always ignore rustling grass and get bitten by a real snake one day."

    I see a correlation here in those traits being dominant in both the very religious and the mentally ill.. and what made us better fit for survival historically is now an impairment to modern life.
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      Aug 20 2011: Ryan - what you have said here is very interesting. I have done research into depression, but not schizophrenia, as you have.

      You have alluded to this already, but more specifically, I wonder what you think of the notion that schizophrenia is only seen as craziness from the standpoint of our current framework of reality? Some would say that in earlier, traditional societies, schizophrenics may have been revered - perhaps as shamans, medicine men etc, because of their propensity towards envisioning those things that others may not naturally see?

      Maybe this is me being crazy, but I believe that many of today's mental 'illnesses' are unlikely to be illnesses at all, and that it is more likely that our current take on reality is the thing that is 'ill', with accepted thought patterns that are almost entirely scientific, linear, empirical. What has happened to thought patterns that are panoramic, far-reaching, metaphorical? It does seem as though pure scienctific thought has become the norm, but thinking in metaphor has now become crazy.

      I wonder which thought pattern has moved society forward more rapidly and deeper into pioneering territory? 'Normal' science, or 'crazy' metaphor?
      • Aug 20 2011: the most notable distinction that makes them labeled as a liability to themselves or others is the modern world and science and education, what we have learned as a society.

        3000 years ago when no one could explain why it rained someone who could easily jump steps in logic and believe it was the result of an angry god in the sky throwing his spear into the ocean was likely to be revered because no one else had any other explanation. A true schizophrenic sees that this is true in spite of any evidence or logic placed in front of them and preach their conclusion with great conviction, if no one knows enough to fault their logic they would indeed be seen as visionary.

        In the modern world we have done research and we now know why it rains so when someone makes that same jump in logic to reach the same conclusion and will not accept any other answer that their logic is faulty we know they are incorrect.

        As far as perception of reality goes.. we know posiden is not making it rain with his trident, therefore what we really need to achieve is a way to help the schizophrenic understand reality and train them to reach more logical conclusions and reduce the noticeable symptoms of the disease.
      • Aug 26 2011: I may be wrong about this, so feel free anyone to shoot this down, but my understanding is that labels of mental illness are not about defining a condition as such, but merely a collection of symptoms. When we say that someone is ADHD for example, what we are saying is that their behaviour exhibits these traits. ADHD is not a condition as such, and can't really be treated, just an observation and a shorthand for people that behave in a certain way. It does not take into account outside influence, or other causes that may be relevant either – only a list of symptoms. This is important I think. What is depression for example? In isolation, it can be seen as a mental condition, but what if you have something to be depressed about?

        When these categories were defined, what happened is that perfectly ordinary people were going to doctors asking to be cured of what they interpreted as divergence from the norm - a norm that nobody realistically conforms to anyway. We have in a sense been conditioned to expect or move towards perfection, and anything other than that is deficient in some way.

        I also firmly believe that we have filters in place. The world is full of detail, sound, visual, olfactory, and we couldn't hope to process it all all the time, so our brains tune out the things it doesn't think we need. If these filters are not in place, it seems reasonable that we could become distracted and tortured by the things that other people just aren't aware of (if thats what we are conditioned to think) or equally we could become powerful witchdoctors, or psychics, or holy men.

        Check an Adam Curtis documentary called The Trap. Has a fascinating first part about psychiatry and the development of psychiatric treatments. Game theory and social pressure seem to play an extremely important part, which seems to be why psychiatric treatments and drugs are often only effective while you take them. They 'cure' nothing. They only mask symptoms.

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