The trajectory of humankind has been logarithmically tending towards entropy for our entire lives. Rapid climate change has been ratcheting up since the 1960s. Capitalism experiences crisis after crisis, each worse than the previous. Pop culture ebbs and flows between the mundane and profound but never passes the tipping point of creating systemic change. And, for many historical factors, bigotry of all varieties has cropped back up again to reclaim its throne as the arbiter of class division, the great divider, the hierarchy that determines control of labor and governance. All this shit is enough to drive any normal person insane.
How do we as a society define sanity? The ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner? But what if the normal in which we are forced to participate is one of cruelty, misinformation, and sociopathy? Rationally presented sets of tested facts that are corroborated through repeated studies are routinely discarded in favor of the emotional content of billionaire despots whose only agendas are self-furtherance. If you calmly accept that reality and carry on without decrying these contradictions, are you sane or are you avoiding conflict out of fear of discomfort, dissent, or dissolution of your own power?
Pathologizing your enemies to either diminish their credibility or destroy them via involuntary institutional commitment and death is a tale as old as history itself. When the earliest states were forming in the fertile crescent, the nascent symbol of the savage was concocted to invalidate the humanity of those who refused subjugation. In many forms, this dehumanizing process still continues today – Trump saying Mexicans are rabid violent criminals, Evangelicals demoralizing Satanists and queers as unscrupulous sinners, women being gaslit into denying their own realities. Anyone who strays from the hegemonic status quo is quickly admonished as not just bad, but fundamentally crazy and beyond repair.
We allow these modalities to continue without much resistance out of sheer convenience. After all, if we treated mental health as what it truly is – a spectrum in which consensus is agreed on and maintained through pre-existing power, we would spend so much time helping the “less functional” prosper that all of us would at very least need a therapist (which I think is true anyway). So, instead of letting this community responsibility take precious time away from us grinding away making money for the ruling class, we pat ourselves on the back for being sane and pity or antagonize those crazies out there doing crazy, homeless people things.
But this condition doesn’t actually serve us. Everyone reading this has more in common with the crazy homeless woman than they do with Jeff Bezos and if she were given the care and attention she deserves as a human with more interdependent needs, she would have more capacity to act in solidarity with her peers instead of experiencing only pity, condemnation and shunning.
So what am I getting at? Stop preoccupying yourself with calling other people crazy. You’ll never read their mind to determine if their thoughts are too disorganized to function on whatever scale you’ve arbitrarily forced on them. Yelling doesn’t make someone bipolar. Posting selfies doesn’t make someone a narcissist. Wanting objects and plans organized doesn’t make someone obsessive-compulsive. The only gain most people are truly looking for when pathologizing another is power over them. They’re crazy. I’m not. They’re bad. I’m good.
There are people with debilitating mental health conditions out there and they don’t deserve to be conflated with your acquaintance who cussed you out when you neglectfully passed your mismanaged stress on to them. Realize that we’re all healing from something, we all have trauma and we all have triggers. And while we’re ultimately responsible for our own external emotional expression, we can’t project our lifetime of pain onto someone reacting to their very real environment by calling them names insinuating they’re crazy. It’s irresponsible, bigoted, and needs to end.
If you actually hate the cops and the billionaires, to them you’re crazy already, so run with it instead of punching left and down, creating ever more reactionary hierarchies in which to aggrandize yourself. Beware those who identify as sane, they might just be trying to exploit those around them. Also, we’re heavy music fans, we love crazy shit. Fuck sanity!