Sunday, May 18, 2014

'I' is for "(in)sanity" !!

I heard an interesting news essay on NPR recently. I think I have written about this before. But the story is worth repeating. 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 & the 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 15 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. 

So I guess its really important to make a good first impression, because that is what will stick for the most part. As a wise person once said, "you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!"

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. We all have had our moments of insanity and indiscretions. When I think of those past moments now, all I can do is shake my head and say to myself -- "What in the hell was I thinking when I did or said that?!"  As long as these moments are few & far in between, and 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