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Am I mad or not?

Rant central
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I recently had an idea about catastrophe graphs and polypharmacy which may well make no sense at all, but i have no idea if anyone can tell. The HB itself is a possible repository for some such ideas, but what if you're not so much interested in debating the validity of your idea of whether the dinosaurs wiped each other out in a nuclear war as you are concerned about your sanity for believing that in the first place?

I suggest a website where people can post their rants and others vote on whether they are mad or not, based on the rant. In a sense, this is like a blog or this very site, but i wouldn't particularly want comments on the cogency of the rant so much as votes on its rabidity, and maybe comments of an emotionally supportive nature and suggestions for coping strategies, should the ranter prove, in fact, to be insane by popular opinion.

They could all be wrong of course, and in fact they would be, and psychotic people are unlikely to have enough insight to use the site, but some of them might.

nineteenthly, Feb 17 2008

Elective treatment as a factor in morbidity http://archpsyc.ama...ntent/full/58/9/861
People should be able to freely seek treatment without stigma. [WcW, Feb 18 2008]

Prior Art AnalyzeThis_2ecom
Not based on rants, but on people who actually know you. Or say they do, anyway. [DrCurry, Feb 19 2008]

Do I halve bats in the belfry? http://www.isitchristmas.com/
Every few minutes, I check this site to see if I'm off my onion. So far, so good. [Amos Kito, Feb 19 2008]

Wikipedia: Depressive realism http://en.wikipedia.../Depressive_realism
The notion that depressed people assess their degree of control more clearly than non-depressed ones, as perhaps alluded to by nineteenthly. [jutta, Feb 21 2008]

Another marvelous tool Two_20Cats_20Mad
[Susan, Feb 17 2009]

Wikipedia: The Trap (Documentary) http://en.wikipedia...documentary_series)
Adam Curtis' fascinating (and contentious) documentary manages to navigate a line through the last 50 years, exploring the interrelations between Game Theory, madness, Cold War politics, psychiatry (notably referencing the effects on the US medical establishment of the Rosenhan experiment), The Economy, Thatcher, and the mechanisation of society and the belief that people can be considered entirely as mathematical objects. The first episode "F*ck You Buddy" (available online in the usual places) explores lots of ground covered here. And the second "The Lonely Robot", goes into more detail about the commoditisation and coming to the fore of "behavioral" methods of diagnosing mental illness, and their coincidental emergence at the same time as a massive rise in the prescription of such drugs as prozac. [zen_tom, Sep 22 2011]


       nineteenthly - we're not actually here, you know, and you're not actually reading this.   

       Oh, and sp.: cartographic
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 17 2008

       //are concerned about your sanity for believing that in the first place?//   


       Actually, you really and truly aren't _here_ in the English East Midlands, with a couple of exceptions, and when you wrote that i really wasn't reading it, because it was in this little box thingy here.
nineteenthly, Feb 17 2008

       Yes, I believe they do.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 17 2008

       The main problem seems to be that it never occurs to anyone who actually is to question their sanity.
nineteenthly, Feb 17 2008

       //Am I mad or not?//
You're a halfbaker, so probably...
neutrinos_shadow, Feb 17 2008

       Feeling like you need to pass your ideas through a sane/insane filter already sounds like someone who has some concerns about their well being. Many respectable people have sought treatment simply because they recognized that somthing was wrong and trusted that other people would try to help them. I would hope that the negative stigma of words like psychotic and insane would not prevent someone who is suffering to seek comfort. Trusting your sense of what is normal actually works for most disorders because the onset of illness is marked by noticing that things are not normal. Always remeber that mental illness is a matter of degree and that cessation of painfull or frightening symptoms will be the primary goal of treatment.
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       If it is, Una, then I don't need a second opinion, I am horribly ill.
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       Lovely grammar, [Ian].
hippo, Feb 18 2008

       It's a bit of a conundrum isn't it?   

       1) I am cogent enough to suspect I'm mad.
2) The fact that I'm cogent suggests that I'm not mad after all.
3) But it's my very cogency which suspects that I'm mad.
4) Which proves I'm not.
5) So I must be.
6) <rocking>

       I got caught up in this loop once in my teens, after a particularly strong cup of mushroom tea. Later that very evening, I was to behold the massive (though not unfriendly) snake who's everwrithing body forms the seething chaos that is the underlying basis of all reality.
zen_tom, Feb 18 2008

       Mental illness is not usually a loss of all reasoning. Most innitial symptoms relate to the regulation of emotion or the barrier separating imaginaiton and reality. You still know that somthing is making you different from other people and if you get help before things go to far then you never make the disconect from normalcy that advanced mental illness causes.
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       [z_t]: As far as I can tell from what you describe, it is your cogency that thinks you're mad. We certainly don't. The only sane action left to you is to eliminate you cogency and come with us instead.
Jinbish, Feb 18 2008

       I agree with [UB] to some degree, but i've also seen some people who are pretty out of it, and even been assaulted by one of them. I tend to think of it as having unpopular beliefs, but find it hard to take it further.   

       Clearly "insane" and "sane" beliefs are compatible, because if you believe the pigeons are taking photos of you when they blink, you believe there are pigeons (a popular belief), that they have eyelids, also probably a popular assumption, but doubtless doubted by some people otherwise regarded as sane by Them, and that they are taking photos of you, which would possibly be true if some kind of espionage technique involved attaching cameras to their heads triggered by nerve impulses going to their levatores palpebrarum muscles but that's probably more detailed than their actual belief.   

       Maybe it isn't the content of the belief so much as the high value given it by the possibly insane person. So, maybe [benfrost] is insane because he thinks vagina jam is a good idea (no offence) but no-one else does (except they do, don't they?) OK, one of my ideas then, er, female school uniforms for both sexes.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2008

       People might be mean and say you are sane when you are not (or visa versa)...   

       Perhaps you could get the website to check your sanity directly --- but then you might as well just talk to yourself. As you said above, you are probably insane if you can convince yourself of anything... (e.g. that this idea might work)   

       On the other hand you are probably sane if you can convince others of something... (e.g. that this idea works). And then again people might be mean and tell you you are right when you are not. And thats why some people only talk to god...   

       I believe that the state of the art today is for one person to try and convince two others of a third persons insanity. And in this way a persons knowledge of their sanity or otherwise is not required...
madness, Feb 18 2008

       I go for a slightly different slant on the problem. If you agree, as I tend to, that the only stupid questions are the ones that are un-asked, then the web site should be entitled "Are the rest of you mad or not?". Given the general state of human civilisation, I suspect that the answer would nearly always be 'yes'. A much more comforting conclusion if you ask me.
DrBob, Feb 18 2008

       Indeed --- I myself often imagine myself as the rock apon which the sea of all humanity must break...   

       (and break hard (a bit like Chuck Norris))
madness, Feb 18 2008

       We've been through this before [nineteenthly]. Just look around you and count the cats.
ConsulFlaminicus, Feb 18 2008

       The surest sign of sanity is the ability to question ones own.   

       Those unbalanced mentally have absolutely nothing wrong with them AND ARE PERFECTLY FINE!!!
They also seem quite willing to get violent to prove the point if brought up by another.

       Madness is a trivial term that covers many illnesses. As someone who suffers from periodic bouts of depression, I can testify that this form of madness brings with it a dislocation of reality, that needs no web site to measure. When I have it, I know all about it, but that does not make it go away.
xenzag, Feb 18 2008

       OK, i probably need to refine what i mean. Whereas depression doesn't usually involve that sort of thing, i know depressed people who have come to believe they don't exist or that someone close to them was in serious danger of death without any clear reason for thinking so. Maybe what i mean is "am i delusional or not?", but the title isn't so snappy.   

       Also, i would seriously question the idea that depression is a dislocation from reality. It often seems to be the result of clear perception, though not always.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2008

       Depends on whether or not one includes the emotional tint of a world in "reality". If I walk around in a world shrouded in emotional grey where nothing and no-one gives me joy - is that an hormonal delusion I've stopped suffering from, or a hopeful possibility I have suddenly become unable to see?   

       (-) If someone is slightly unhinged, interacting with large groups of people adds yet another difficulty to the system. Talking to a single person seems more helpful than talking to an inconsistent, anonymous, transient crowd of voyeurs - call a friend, not an audience.
jutta, Feb 18 2008

       // more helpful than....... an inconsistent, anonymous, transient crowd of voyeurs //   

       Ah, but if the voyeurs enjoy it, where's the harm ?
8th of 7, Feb 18 2008

       I think people can most usefully check their reality against a community rather than individuals. This doesn't always work, as with Jonestown or witch hunts of the literal or metaphorical kind, but there are a lot of dysfunctional couples and families and a lot of lonely people. I would say there is a tendency for interaction to be healthiest when there is relatively genuine dialogue between people. Ideally, this would be face to face, but that isn't always possible, as with agoraphobics, people who are socially anxious or people in a crisis situation who have access to a 'phone or the internet. That sort of interaction is better than nothing.   

       Besides that, the detachment a therapist or counsellor can exercise may be needed in a one to one interaction. That isn't always plausible either. The other person may be a friend or relative who can be pulled into the worrier's world or end up doing something which confirms an unhelpful belief. That might apply even if the person trying to help has that as a professional role, because they may not have adopted the right persona out of context or their status could be part of the person's putatively delusional world, as with people who end up being stalked by their clients.   

       Someone under the influence of their adrenaline may well not be out of touch with reality but responding to a genuine threat. They perceive reality differently but it is reality. The change in perception induced by the adrenaline serves a purpose of sorts and is therefore healthy.   

       It seems that variations in reproductive hormone levels can also change the perception of reality, but that altered consciousness could also be functional in some way, and if it isn't, would still be a valid subjective experience which could be articulated by the person who has been or is going through it.   

       Looking at it from the outside, some people have said to me that the variation in consciousness which occurs through the menstrual cycle for some of them is a question of seeing different aspects of the same reality. Others say they don't see things straight at certain times and do at others. Perhaps fairly similarly, i can have a cup of coffee and my consciousness changes in a frustratingly positive way, because i become more motivated.   

       Even so, i do take your point about the voyeuristic and impersonal nature of this medium.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2008

       Just because you worry about your sanity doesn't mean you're not a nut.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 18 2008

       Sorry, but I don't like it (-). The reasons are fourfold: 1. As stated, if you question it, you are probably sane, the insane don't question it. 2. Everyone is a little crazy. I can't even imagine a type of person who is completely sane. I was going to say someone like Spock, who is completely logical, but even then the person would be sane, but not human. 3. Most people will put down a stranger just for fun. Schadenfreude. 4. This is really already done on the internet everyday. We do it here. I thought I'd figured out a method of interstellar travel. Was I crazy? Maybe. Was I wrong? Certainly. No matter what your wacky idea, there is a site for you. If you think the government blew up the Trade Towers like Charlie Sheen, well Google it and you will find others who think like you. They will tell you that you are sane.   

       So the answer to your question: Am I mad or not? Yes, but it's OK, we all are. Now go back to work and don't hurt anyone.
MisterQED, Feb 18 2008

       I really disagree. Many people who a schizophrenic, depressed, or otherwise symptomatic realize that something is wrong with them. This has no effect on the symptoms, they are still quite real. "I and Reality are having a disagreement" is simple enough a description. Obviously age of onset and cultural factors are very important. Generally if a person is supported and respected when they ask for help (generally people want a cessation of symptoms initially) they can remain fully in touch with reality. The most critical factors in morbidity and fatality due to mental illness are age of onset and quality of the support network.
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       //If you think the government blew up the Trade Towers like Charlie Sheen...// the government blew up Charlie Sheen? It's obviously a conspiracy.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 18 2008

       // the government blew up Charlie Sheen //   

       Up to now, we have had reservations about the concept of democracy, but any government that would blow up Charlie Sheen can't be all bad .....
8th of 7, Feb 18 2008

       Question: I wonder if there are any 'insane' members of the animal kingdom? Is sanity strictly human? Is it bound by conscience and beliefs, or can behaviors be insane? Personally, I thought my mother's wiener dog was quite nuts because he had a pathological demonstrated fear of certain specific people for no apparent reason. We think he must have been abused by his previous owner.
RayfordSteele, Feb 18 2008

       //Question: I wonder if there are any 'insane' members of the animal kingdom?// How about the whales who run aground. Were they just confused or suicidal? Suicidal seems like a bellwether for mental illness.
MisterQED, Feb 18 2008

       Yes, i would say that other species can be mentally ill, no question about that. It probably doesn't happen to the same extent as before, but there's the stereotyped repetitive behaviour of zoo animals as an example. I used to look after a rescued dog which had been trained for fighting other dogs by her previous owners and she was completely nuts. Then there are animals which have messed up their brains by eating toxic food and others with brain tumours or which have been screwed up by traumatic experiences, such as being mauled by a predator and escaping. I had a cat once which had fallen in a hot bath as a kitten, and she refused to go into the bathroom until she became senile at about the age of eighteen. Not mad, but learning from trauma. Parasites change animal behaviour as well.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2008

       Many animals go insane in captivity (captivity:extreme stress). I suspect that in the wild loss of mental cogency is a pretty surefire way to get killed thus examples would be of the bare bones variety (beached whales)
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       It might not always be so though, because i can't help thinking a good healthy dose of paranoia or antisocial behaviour would result in getting to the top of a pecking order in many a hierarchy, human or otherwise.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2008

       Then, by definition, that would not be insane.
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       Well, i say "healthy". Mental illness, according to that rather dubious publication DSM IV, is: not culturally appropriate, not merely a conflict with society, a manifestation of dysfunction, a behavioural or psychological syndrome, likely to incur death, disability or pain or associated with distress or disability. Applying that to entities without a culture is a little more complex, but some of those would probably apply to some individuals at the bottom of the pecking order. I would say excessive aggression was a behavioural syndrome. Look at how the Gombe chimps behave. They seem pretty dyssocial to me. A society of chimpanzees where a few individuals kill most of the others doesn't sound like a good survival strategy, so they are insane. In other species, such as sharks, which eat each other before they're born, it might be perfectly healthy.
nineteenthly, Feb 18 2008

       Ooh, it's gone all serious! OK, just to prove I'm not abnormal, so shall I.

I've never been comfortable with the term 'mental illness'. It's one of those nice labels that is used to easily explain away people who think differently. This is often because of some chemical difference (or imbalance if you want to get subjective about it) in their physiology but I doubt if anyone can give me a definition of what 'mentally healthy' is. I do like the term 'mad' though as this seems rather more appropriate in that it really describes our (i.e. the allegedly sane) reaction to persons whose thought processes seem incomprehensible or unsettling. It's really a question of the majority imposing their values of what is 'normal' upon the whole population, most of whom would probably agree with the statement that "we are all individuals".
DrBob, Feb 18 2008

       I think that suffering, on your part or inflicted on other people, is a critical diagnostic component.
WcW, Feb 18 2008

       Oh. Wow. Way too much for me to read. I was just going to point out that I posted pretty much this exact idea a while back (see link). The mechanism is subtly different, so I leave to the admins, if they're awake, to figure out whether that makes this one redundant.
DrCurry, Feb 19 2008

       I think they're different enough (yours is about people one knows; this one is about strangers), so I'll be happy to leave that decision to the author.
jutta, Feb 19 2008

       I think this is different, because with the other idea it is people you know, who may be drawn into your madness or be prejudiced against you. If we're all mad, the people who know us are maybe more aware of our madness and we'd all be rated as mad.
nineteenthly, Feb 19 2008

       Hmm I think I will be the judge...
madness, Feb 19 2008

       //I think that suffering, on your part or inflicted on other people, is a critical diagnostic component//

I'm game with that. I think we can therefore safely conclude that nearly all of us are bonkers and that the members of every government in the world should be locked away for their own, and our, safety.
DrBob, Feb 19 2008

       There's nice mad and nasty mad, i suppose. Nice mad makes you homeless, nasty mad makes you president.
nineteenthly, Feb 19 2008

       It's interesting to note that people who describe themselves as "mad!!!!" or "wacky" invariably are the polar opposite; drab and average.
theleopard, Feb 19 2008

       I think the whales are probably reacting to having their ears blown out by submarine pings.
RayfordSteele, Feb 20 2008

       But first we need an SI measurement of madness. You know..... a yardstick.   

       Kurt Godel springs to mind. No, no good. He did come up with that incompleteness theorem. Perhaps Georg Cantor, he was fucking bonkers! No, no, he had that whole aleph zero etc thing going on. Perhaps Paul Erdos, the man was pumped on amphetamines. No, he did some good work. Galileo, WTF, earth *orbits* the sun, Getoutahere!   

       Read some Douglas Adams, then determine madness. Having said that, there was a recent idea here debunking relativity. Verdict: The man confused insight with genius, maybe that is the yardstick!
4whom, Feb 25 2008

       John Nash once said that the beliefs which led to him being labelled as schizophrenic were, to him, indistinguishible in quality from his mathematical insights. It sounds like he wouldn't have benefitted from a reality check.   

       Maybe there should be a page at www.amimadornot.com reading "If you are reading this the answer is no."
nineteenthly, Feb 25 2008

       Thanks, [Susan]. What if you want cats but circumstances such as allergies prevent you from having them? Would that raise the threshold? My brother has cats but their number varies because they run away a lot.
nineteenthly, Feb 17 2009

       Thanks [zen_tom], missed this before somehow. I think the 'fifties was quite a paranoid time anyway, so i'm currently wondering if that's reflected in the adoption of a theory of suspicion, and come to think of it a suspicious theory too.
nineteenthly, Sep 26 2011

       You should read Francis Wheen's "Strange Days Indeed" - it's a history of the 70's. Basically the whole decade now seems like a collective, paranoid mental illness.

On the point raised in the idea, of a website, I have a theory that any website or forum on the internet eventually becomes identified with a core of self-supporting beliefs and opinions. For example, if you're interested in the magical healing properties of crystals you may find youself in an internet forum where eveyone is very much a believer in crystal healing and this will reinforce your view that they work. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a group of people discussing things on the internet is a rough cross-section of society rather than, as with most self-selected groups of people on the internet, a bunch of extremist wackos.
hippo, Sep 26 2011

       Didn't we do a "post your manifest" recently ?
FlyingToaster, Sep 26 2011

       [Hippo], that could be worsened by the personalisation of the web as well. However, i'm not sure it's true. Recent interactions elsewhere have led me to conclude two things which are not in accord with becoming more like the people with whom i'm interacting online, though i think that may be true of me and this place. One is that there are sites where there is a polarisation of opinion and an absence of nuance among the users, where my opinion is further from either camp the more i use it. The other is that the tendency for people to draw conclusions based on insufficient evidence and then select or interpret evidence based on those conclusions, leading to a lack of trust and attention to those whom one perceives as disagreeing with one is much stronger among many people with whom i'm in contact on Facebook than it is for me. Also, there are a load of annoying hippies on there for me and the more i interact with them, the less sympathy i have for their views.
nineteenthly, Sep 26 2011

       To come back to the original question: probably.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 26 2011

       nineteethly. please don't leave. you have brought a lot to the discussions here I, for one, wish that I knew you in person.
WcW, Sep 27 2011

       Thanks, [MB]. I tend to think the problem is not so much insanity as how to market one's insanity. I know a bipolar bloke who carves benches artistically and manically half the time and can't get out of bed the other half. Luckily for him, the benches are popular and sell for a lot of money, so to an extent his torpor and depressiveness the rest of the time don't matter so much. I think there's a lesson there - it doesn't so much matter if you're mad because you could maybe get a career as a politician, a vicar or David Icke (though i understand the position is currently taken), but it does matter if you can't make a profit from your madness.   

       Thanks [bigsleep], i'm not going anywhere, and of course if you ever find yourself in Leicester, i'd be happy to buy you a drink.
nineteenthly, Sep 27 2011

       Well, I don'tknow about mad but I'm definitely not in control of my own actions. Having taken an interest in zen_tom's link to "The Trap" (interesting stuff z_t!), I then foolishly and, yes I admit it, naively followed up by checking out hippo's recommendation of Francis Wheen's "Strange Days Indeed" and ended up spending fifty quid at Amazon on Futurama DVD's! How did this occur please? I think I'm beginning to understand now why I am a poor person and not a wealthy multi-gazillionaire!
DrBob, Sep 27 2011

       I'm compiling a Thompsons directory.
DrBob, Sep 28 2011

       [DrBob] glad you found the link interesting - I got into the whole Adam Curtis thing after watching "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace" which was on BBC earlier this year. Fascinating, moving, thought-provoking - brilliant.
zen_tom, Sep 28 2011

       // Why on earth would you want that many gazelles anyway ? //   

       Now that somebody finally told me what it means, I'm proud to make this my very first [marked-for-tagline]
Alterother, Sep 28 2011

       Good suggestion. Of course it doesn't apply to me.
Ah Supp, Oct 01 2011


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