Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Normally crazy

Becker - Season 1 - Episode 14 "Larry Spoke".

Becker is examining a guy and this guy has been painting and repainting
his apartment in different colors. When Becker asks him why, he says,
"Larry says so. He can't make up his mind."
Becker: "Larry? Who's Larry?"
Man: "Larry is God's first name."


Is this man crazy who thinks he can talk to God?

And what are the other billions of people doing when they go to the
temple, mosque, church or whatever they choose to call it, and "pray"?
Are they not talking to God?

What is "normal"? This is a huge, really vast topic, requiring of hours
of long discussion, arguments and counter-arguments but I am tackling it
because it's a recurring thought in my mind. I will try to keep it

Let me clear my position at the outset. I think that there is a very,
very fine line between a so-called normal person and a certified crazy
one. In order to illustrate my point I imagine a situation where a
person is being examined by a psychiatrist in order to ascertain if they
are crazy or not. And that person is me. I wonder quite often if I would
pass that test. :-)

Look at some of the things that "sane" people do. They drive high speed
automobiles filled with an extremely inflammable fluid. There have been
incidents of this "catch fire and die" kind in the past, quite a lot of
them, yet the sane people don't stop using such dangerous things like
cars and motorbikes. Why? Because it's a faster way to get there.

Now, consider a person who's sitting on a tree branch cutting the same
branch he's sitting on. It is his way of getting wood and climbing down
fast, in one go. This person you'd call crazy. Why?

A couple who work at some job and know that they are neither happy nor
rich still they put their own children through the same course destined
for the same kind of life. Are they normal? You'd say so.

A man who doesn't send his kids to school but puts them to work or gives
them seemingly stupid and sometimes risky assignments in order to "build
their character", is he crazy? Highly eccentric at least.

A person who spends hours in a plastic seat looking at other people
playing with wooden sticks and balls (call it cricket or baseball or
whatever you like), and he spends his hard earned money to do this, is
he crazy? Nope.

A person who sits on a log at a riverbank, silently, looking at birds
and squirrels, for hours. Is he crazy? Questionable at least.

A person who collects stamps. Philatelist.

A person who collects toenails. Crazy.

A man who blogs. Normal.

A man who talks to himself. Crazy!

I have about a thousand more examples in mind but I think you get the
pattern. Normal is what everybody else is doing, no matter how crazy
that is. In Osho's word, "The world is afraid of original people."

In someone else's words, "Those who dance are considered insane by those
who can't hear the music."


Melody said...

Great topic, and I like the way you think. My definition of normal is: fitting the norm. Where the norm is the way most people think. It's the box, the safety zone where there is no room for creativity nor evolution.It's not a bad place to be, as long as we realize it's not all there is and dare to at times simply walk straight through the walls of the box. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Sunil Goswami said...

Thank you for your lovely comment, Melody. Of course, I agree with you, that was the whole point of my thoughts that the world does always try to put us in a box and we must, while trying to stay away from padded cells, try to live our own lives our way.


LP said...

Hi! Sunil,

you have a lovely ending to a crazy post. It was just ended in a way that no arguement will ever stand!

In this world, and in professional psych grounds, people pass off as "normal" if they are functioning successfully in their life. As long as they are mostly independent and not bothering the people around, they stay out of the psych beds.

Your examples are frustrating, because they are all on the fence, leaning towards meaningless, but, still on the fence, giving me the feel that there is no point arguing these, because they can still try to win wiggling through some narrow gap.

Anyways, it was interesting enough a write up as usual and I've always been amazed at how you can write some baseless points in a near convincing way!

Keep up the good work! :-)


Anonymous said...

Everything depends :) is it not? I am sure I do not consider myself very normal but yet here I am sitting and commenting :)As long as you are smart and crazy,it works!!

Sunil Goswami said...

Hi LP,

Thank you for a hilarious comment. I laughed so much when I read that. No, it was not really a funny laugh it was my evilness really happy to read your lines - "Your examples are frustrating" and "I've always been amazed at how you can write some baseless points in a near convincing way!". Really, truly, rolling on the floor kind of laughter. Thank you for that.

Having said that, *imitates the most serious ape he has seen in order to look serious* my arguments maybe frustrating not because they are baseless but maybe because they make sense? Unconventional sense maybe? If you want to discuss and debate any one of them or as a group, I'd be more than happy to carry the other side of the debate with you.

I'll just say this in support of my examples, there have been many, many geniuses throughout history who have been called crazy by their contemporary smart, intelligent, well-read, well-educated men. Have their been any crazy people who were ever taken to be geniuses at first? So, anything out of the ordinary maybe termed crazy, but that does not make it crazy. If you want I have a lot of examples on that.

Ok, now, I had left my post deliberately at an open point where the crazy and the sane could co-exist peacefully. But you went ahead and defined sanity again. And as the writer of the original post challenging any definition of normal or sane I am obliged to point out the flaws in your reasoning.

"In this world, and in professional psych grounds, people pass off as "normal" if they are functioning successfully in their life. As long as they are mostly independent and not bothering the people around, they stay out of the psych beds."

This is what you have said. And I say it's not true. Not by a long shot. You have defined 3 criteria for "normal", let's take them one by one.

"functioning successfully" - define success. Everybody's definition of success is different, for you it maybe driving your Ferrari and owning 100-floor skyscrapers, for a farmer it maybe owning a land large enough to feed his family if he works hard on it. There are a lot of "unsuccessful" people in this world who are still classified as "normal". So, unless you define some criteria for success, this point is not really established that success signifies normalcy.

"independent" - noone, not even a single person in this world is truly independent from the man who drives the tractor in the field to the leader who runs the nation, we are all dependent on other humans in order to survive and function.

"not bothering the people around" - Again, everybody is bothering somebody, directly or indirectly. Some people are bothered by other people who come into their country to work. some people are bothered by news media reporting or not reporting certain piece of news. The people who bother me are the ones who set the income tax rates. Everybody is bothered by someone and everybody bothers some others. That's the way of the world.

Hey, what are the psych grounds for normalcy again? Are you sure they are correct?

For my money I'd go with Peace's idea and stay "smart and crazy" that's the way to go!

Again, thanks a lot for your comment and I hope to see your reply soon.


LP said...

Well, Sunil, you asked or a speedy comment. So, here is my immediate, spontaneous , speedy reaction to your points.

You either have all the time in the world OR you are a mad genius that you claim to be! Who else will have the patience to dissect my statements in a way that makes it sound meaningless, when it is the words from a person who has more knowledge in the field than you?

If you really want to learn, you'd argue on the basis of the essence and not the words in my statements! Now, I won't spoon feed anymore knowledge on this reply. If you want to learn about psych norms, you pull the thick text book of the rack and read it burning some mid-night oil.

Love & peace; regards & patience

Sunil Goswami said...

And who's going to guarantee that that thick volume will teach me anything or just take away my original outlook on things?

Do you really want me to believe that the people who have read those thick books know about human psyche than the ones who have not? I don't believe it for one second.


Sunil Goswami said...

Hi LP,

I realized after I posted the reply that I did not address your whole comment and that was not right. So, this is addendum to my response above.

Correction: I did not ask for a speedy comment, I merely hoped to see your reply soon. One person's hope is not binding on the other. It was up to you to decide based on your pririoties when you could reply. Thank you for doing that sooner than I thought. :)

Nobody has "all the time", "too much time" or "too little time". We all get the same number of hours in a day and it's up to us to choose what we do with them. Yogi Berra chose to play and think about baseball in his hours, Dr. Pavlov chose to feed dogs in his 24 hours. I choose to blog, comment, respond and discuss. Nothing wrong with any of the choices.

For the record - I never claimed to be a mad genius, or mad (other than that we all are) or any kind of a genius. You must be thinking about couple of other guys. :)

Having patience is a virtue in some cases, in this case I'd consider it so.

I did not say your words were meaningless, merely incorrect.

What is the essence of words? To my mind, the essence of words is their meaning and when the words are joined together they express thoughts and ideas. So when I am attacking your words I am attacking the idea, theory or logic that you are expressing with those words. If your words do not correctly express the idea I am attacking then perhaps you should rephrase them.

"when it is the words from a person who has more knowledge in the field than you?"

What field are we talking about medicine or psychiatry? Medicine, I'll concede the point. But we are not discussing medicine here as far as I know.

About psychiatry, I'd say that you are assuming a fact not in evidence. I am not saying that I have more knowledge than you in this or any other field but I am not denying it. It has not been proven either way.

I don't think there was any spoonfeeding involved. This is not a classroom but a place to discuss ideas. I put forth an idea in my post, some people including you, placed their ideas, pro, con and at an angle. Where do you get the word "spoonfeeding" in this context? Nobody, including myself, is obliged to put forth or discuss these ideas. We do so because we choose to.

Learn? Yes. Any discussion will lead to addition in knowledge. Psych norms? What are those? What books? Who says that books and a degree makes a person expert in the matters of the human mind other than teaching him fancy words like "psyche norms"? I don't believe it at all. Therefore, I see no need to reach for any books.

However, I will continue to put forth and disucss this and other ideas and everybody, including you, is welcome to comment on them. I appreciate their taking time out to write and also any addional inputs or insights they can provide.

Please feel free to pick up any part or parts of this comment that you don't agree with and I'd be happy to carry on the discussion with you. :)

Hoping to see your reply soon,

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