Most people I meet are secretly convinced that they’re a little crazier than the average person. People understand the energy necessary to maintain their own shields, but not the energy expended by other people. They understand that their own sanity is a performance, but when confronted by other people they confuse the person with the role.
I once read about a man who believed himself to have a fish in his jaw. (The case was reported in New Society.) This fish moved about, and caused him a lot of discomfort. When he tried to tell people about the fish, they thought him ‘crazy’, which led to violent arguments. After he’d been hospitalised several times—with no effect on the fish—it was suggested that perhaps he shouldn’t tell anyone. After all it was the quarrels that were getting him put away, rather than the delusion. Once he’d agreed to keep his problem secret, he was able to lead a normal life. His sanity is like our sanity. We may not have a fish in our jaw, but we all have its equivalent.
When I explain that sanity is a matter of interaction, rather than of one’s mental processes, students are often hysterical with laughter. They agree that for years they have been suppressing all sorts of thinking because they classified it as insane.
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre