Y’all knew I was gonna blog about this, yeah? A topic near and dear to my heart.
Let me start by saying that this post will only explore the implications of the word crazy. It will not look how it affects people, or the bigger, societal and or cultural meanings attached to it. There is just so much to unpack there, and well, blogs are said to average 600-1000 words max. What I want to write about here is the different ways we think about, talk about, and use the ‘crazy’ label. Because once you break it down, you can stare ignorance in the face, and knock it out (Tooo cheesy).
‘Crazy’ as a Compliment’
Perhaps most confusing about our understanding of ‘crazy’ is the double-meaning is encompasses. Generally, it has heavy negative implications, but every once and a while, (at least in my experience) a friend or sexfriend will pop out f the woodwork and throw you off with a “You’re nuts and I fuckin love it.”…For a minute you feel little butterflies and sputter an “Aww, thanks,” And in your minute corner of the earth, a bond has been strengthened.
The reason you gain warm-fuzzy butterflies from a word that usually derives out of an intent to wound, is because in this context, crazy really, more accurately means: intelligent, interesting, wild, unpredictable, all of which are positives in Canadian culture. Knowingly or not, you accept the crazy label because on whatever level, you are aware of its more concise, positive implications.
‘Crazy’ as Interchangable with Mentally Ill:
These words are switched and misused so often that their differences are almost undefinable. But Crazy is not mentally ill and mentally ill is not crazy. Mental Illness has touched my family, there have been diagnosis of Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder, two differing disorders with overlapping symptoms. Bipolar has two types, and is most commonly known for extreme moods, mania, depression, and feelings of grandiosity which eventually turn into feelings of completely worthlessness and many times, suicidal ideation. Depending on the type and severity, mood swings and their accompanying behaviors can last anywhere from weeks to months, with the exception of rapid cycle bipolar (a subcategory of BP II, i believe), characterized by daily mood swings. As far as Borderline Personality Disorder goes, it is closely related to Bipolar, differing mainly in that there is a lack of “sense of self.”(also, Boderline is categorized in the DSM as a personality disorder, with maladaptive coping mechanisms, while Bipolar is labelled a mood disorder) As I understand it, individuals with Borderline are very malleable in personal relationships, suffer from extreme lack of boundaries, and are likely to be extremely attached to loved ones on top of having major changes in mood.
‘Crazy’ by contrast, is a shit word, completely ignorant in nature. Einstein defines its twin brother, insanity, as ‘doing the same thing over and over in hopes of different results.'(remember when that saying was bumper-sticker-popular?). Insanity has also been defined by the law in the form of Not Criminally Responsible. If I remember anything from undergrad law (uhmmmmmmmmmm……), NCR touches on the crucial elements of awareness and capacity of understanding. In sum, the law recognizes that those without awareness to control their actions cannot be held to the same standards of law. I just Wiki’d it and found this:
- “”16. (1) No person is criminally responsible for an act committed or an omission made while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong. 
To establish a claim of mental disorder the party raising the issue must show on a balance of probabilities first that the person who committed the act was suffering from a “disease of the mind”, and second, that at the time of the offence they were either 1) unable to appreciate the “nature and quality” of the act, or 2) did not know it was “wrong”.”
What’s significant in this legislation is the theme of not knowing or appreciating criminal acts, which in turn defines the individual as NCR. I see this lack of awareness as essential to our understanding of insanity, and a necessary component of helping society separate mental illness and crazy/insane.
All said, If you think that I’m making the ‘mental illness as disease’ argument, you would be right. To me, mental illness is sickness, with a set of symptoms as tangible as mucus is to a cold. Can you imagine having moods that are so intense that they dictate your thoughts and behaviours and counter better judgement? Of course, I am over simplifying, but I want to suggest that living with mental illness is extremely challenging, and the end result–even if it was also the starting point–can be ‘insanity'(loss of awareness). Ugh. The word crazy should be buried, or taken back, or transformed in some way that justifies its use. Because the more I write about it, the more I just want to blot it out of Webster’s and wash my own mouth out with soap.
So, When is ‘Crazy’ Justifiable?
Alright, if you’re still reading after all that jibber-jabber, congrats.
Here’s my mindset re: when the ‘crazy’ label is justifiable:
- When you’re being stalked/threatened/punched/slapped etc etc etc
- When the person cannot control, or is not aware of their own actions and their impact.
It does not work when used to describe:
- A situation where you are not getting what you want so you call the person ‘the craziest person ever’ in hopes of ruining their day.
- When someone is having anxiety/hurting/extremely manic/the ugly opposite of manic. Extreme behaviors are not crazy. Those feelings are real to that person.
- behaviors you see has typically ‘girly’. Consider your situational context before you go aligning girls’ behavior with their gender.
So much for that word limit. Sorry about the overt contradictions in this post. Check out this screen shot from when I googled NCR (4th one down, Stephen Harper is NCR. ha. Sorry, not funny. Still posting it tho.):