Crazy and Insane

For years if not decades, terms like “insane”, “crazy”, “lunatic” and so forth are commonly used in songs, movies, television and more. Insanity is ingrained in our culture. Terms like “gun nut” are used in society. Are these terms really useful? Probably not. They actually harm the potential for a significantly more authentically peaceful and harmonious society.

Most individuals have a great deal of unquestioned faith in the reality of insanity. Insanity is generally thought of as being a state of mind in which there is no logic or reason for the behaviors that one engages in. Additionally, one is thought to be insane or crazy is often not thought to be responsible for their behavior. Even worse, insanity is popularly thought of as being the result of psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders are popular thought of as being types of brain disorders. These supposed quasi neurological disorders are not objectively diagnosable.

How useful are terms like insane, crazy and lunatic? Are they any more useful than racial slurs? Probably not. Terms like “insane”, “crazy” and “lunatic” are used to dehumanize and invalidate person-hood and responsibility. Humans are moral agents and to label someone as being a lunatic or insane is to invalidate and remove their moral agency.

Insanity is not something that can be objectively proved. Insanity is a judgment based on personal experience and subjective criteria. It is not a useful judgment. These aforementioned terms are quasi medical terms which are pervasive in secular popular culture. This has significant unintended consequences that are not good nor desirable.

In his book Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences, psychiatrist Thomas Szasz wrote in detail about how insanity is not a useful idea nor term. He goes so far as to lambaste the insanity defense and call for its abolishment. He is right.

Hopefully more individuals will start thinking critically and more clearly about the language related to insanity and lunacy. Hopefully more individuals will question the usefulness of these ideas and terms. Hopefully more individuals will start to realize the resultant unintended consequences of having ideas about insanity, craziness and lunacy so ingrained in popular culture and in the criminal justice system.