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.
In psychology and psychotherapy, existential crises are inner conflicts characterized by the impression that life lacks meaning or by confusion about one’s personal identity. Existential crises are accompanied by anxiety and stress, often to such a degree that they disturb one’s normal functioning in everyday life and lead to depression. Their negative attitude towards life and meaning reflects various positions characteristic of the philosophical movement known as existentialism. Synonyms and closely related terms include existential dread, existential vacuum, existential neurosis, and alienation. The various aspects associated with existential crises are sometimes divided into emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. Emotional components refer to the feelings they provoke, such as emotional pain, despair, helplessness, guilt, anxiety, and loneliness. Cognitive components encompass the problem of meaninglessness, the loss of personal values, and reflections about one’s own mortality. Outwardly, existential crises often express themselves in addictions, anti-social and compulsive behavior.
Doctor in Brooklyn: Why are you depressed, Alvy? Alvy’s Mom: Tell Dr. Flicker.
[Young Alvy sits, his head down – his mother answers for him] Alvy’s Mom: It’s something he read. Doctor in Brooklyn: Something he read, huh? Alvy at 9: [his head still down] The universe is expanding. Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding? Alvy at 9: Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything! Alvy’s Mom: What is that your business?
[she turns back to the doctor] Alvy’s Mom: He stopped doing his homework! Alvy at 9: What’s the point? Alvy’s Mom: What has the universe got to do with it? You’re here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding! Doctor in Brooklyn: It won’t be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we’ve gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here!
The first thing he claimed — even though he already had a wife, a 14-year-old girl, pushing legal limits in Texas, but she had her parents permission so the marriage was legal — he announced that God now wanted him to have wives, multiple wives. He pointed out some scriptural passages that he said backed this up, and he claimed that he needed multiple wives because it was his job to sire 24 children who would become elders and help rule after the kingdom of God’s reestablished, at the end times. Then he further announces that among all the women at Mount Carmel, every woman of childbearing age — and that would be, say, from 12 up — were now his wives and could have sex only with him for procreation purposes. The husbands of these women were forbidden to have sex at all anymore. And Koresh said this was a blessing to them because now they could focus their energies on studying the Bible more and becoming more worthy of the Lord. So it was sex. It was everyone else’s wives. And he even decided God wanted him to have the only unit air conditioning in Mount Carmel.
Often, when Dr. Rosenthal talked about his research, someone would approach him to say that the same thing happened to them — but in the summer. In 1987, he and his colleagues published a report of 12 people who experienced a pattern of seasonal depression between March and October. This and subsequent work suggested that summer SAD presented differently than its winter counterpart, and might have different causes.
“Summer SAD is more of an agitated depression,” said Dr. Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. While those with winter SAD tend to oversleep and overeat, summer SAD often shows up with insomnia and lowered appetite.
Andy Bales, the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, requested a security guard accompany himself and host Tonya Mosley during their interview. And as the interview started, they came across a person agitated by their presence.
Bales says this happens just about every day, especially during the pandemic. The lack of sidewalk space in front of the Union Rescue Mission demonstrates that Skid Row is “the worst it’s ever been,” he says.
“This whole street was completely clear. But now it’s rare that you can find a sidewalk that you can pass,” he says. “It’s packed with people devastated by homelessness.”
In February of 1820, on learning that his good friend, Lady Georgiana Morpeth, was suffering from a bout of depression, noted essayist and clergyman Sydney Smith sent her the following precious letter, in which he listed twenty pieces of advice to help her overcome “low spirits.”
Foston, Feb. 16th, 1820 Dear Lady Georgiana,
Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done – so I feel for you.
1st. Live as well as you dare.
2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75° or 80°.
3rd. Amusing books.
4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5th. Be as busy as you can.
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy sentimental people, and every thing likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence.
13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant.
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires.
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th. Believe me, dear Georgiana, your devoted servant, Sydney Smith
SAN FRANCISCO — In early 2019, a formerly homeless man named Tom Wolf posted a thank-you on Twitter to the cop who had arrested him the previous spring, when he was strung out in a doorway with 103 tiny bindles of heroin and cocaine in a plastic baggie at his feet.
“You saved my life,” wrote Wolf, who had finally gotten clean after that bust and 90 days in jail, ending six months of sleeping on scraps of cardboard on the sidewalk.
Drug overdoses killed 621 people in the first 11 months of 2020, up from 441 all last year and 259 in 2018. San Francisco is on track to lose an average of nearly two people a day to drugs in 2020, compared with the 178 who had died by Dec. 20 of the coronavirus.
“If we didn’t have Narcan,” said program manager Kristen Marshall, referring to the common naloxone brand name, “there would be no room at our morgue.”
San Francisco struggles to stem ‘horrific’ uptick in opioid overdoses, drug abuse
Rachel Scheier Los Angeles Times