Sunday, July 18, 2010

Proving your (in)sanity....!

I heard an interesting news essay on NPR recently. About a decade ago, an 18-year old young man got arrested in some part of England for violently beating up an old, defenseless and homeless man. As his case went to trial, some of his friends suggested he should act crazy or mentally unstable to escape a jail term. That way, his friends told him, he would go to a psychiatric institution for a few months and avoid a jail term. Well, he did exactly that. He acted out, behaved and talked inappropriately and convinced the jury & psychiatrists that he was mentally unstable. So what happened next?

He avoided the jail term and was admitted to the (in)famous Broadmoor mental institution in Berkshire. Now the next step? To try to convince the psychiatrists at the institution that he was sane or normal. So that he could get out of there. Its been 12 years, and he's still trying!

Before we jump to conclusions, the psychiatrists at Broadmoor say that this patient is a sociopath and is manipulative. That his story about acting abnormal initially was not really acting, that was really him. And that his normal behavior now is acting!

So that set me thinking a bit. Is it easier to convince people that you are insane than otherwise? But the fact that somebody's sanity is in question in the first place -- that in itself is not a good sign!

In our day to day lives, a pinch of insanity here and there is almost normal. We are all allowed a few sparks of madness in our lifetime. As long as these moments are few & remain just sparks and don't start a fire, life stays interesting (and entertaining!)

"The statistics on sanity are that one of every four people is suffering from some sort of mental illness (however mild it may be). Now think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then its you!" ~ Rita Mae Brown