Googling ‘Madness’

If you want to know a little bit about the reasoning behind the Mad Pride movement I think I can shed a little light on the matter. I just used the Google search engine to search for news articles on ‘madness’. Very few of the articles that this search turned up had anything whatsoever to do with ‘mental illness’. The situation would be very different had I searched for news articles on ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental health’.

Looking only at the first page, and I’m not, for obvious reasons, going beyond that page. We get only a couple of what could be considered exceptions to our rule, but only a couple, if that. People in the Mad Pride movement know the mainstream media has not covered our movement very well, and this search page is only another example of how very true that fact is.

10 links were turned up.

The 1st link happened ironically to be one of the two exceptions. It was to a review of an Australian production of the Tennessee Williams play A Street Car Named Desire. I’m calling it an exception because the play deals with the hospitalization of Blanch Dubois. Whether she is ‘mentally ill’, or just a rape victim, is not for me to say. Note: this is about a work of drama, and not about the real system per say.

The 2nd link, Shark Madness on Cape Cod, refers to an article and video about a first tagging of great white sharks in the Atlantic. The 3rd link leads to an article about the actor who played a Dukes of Hazard Sheriff showing up at a stockcar race in North Carolina. The 4th links goes tin foil monsters, perhaps containing eatables that have something to do with gaming. Don’t ask because I don’t know, and I’m not going to take the time to find out either. The 5th link, Full Moon Madness, attaches to an announcement, among other announcements, for a fund raising event for a Science Museum, or to be more precise, The future Earth, Sea & Space Center. The 6th link goes to an article about the ‘madness’ a rugby player displayed, I think. The 7th goes to an article about the ‘madness’ of a certain Chilean Soccer star. The 8th concerns one high school marching band hosting an event for high school marching bands.

The 9th link was the only other exception, and it’s the best of bunch as far as I’m concerned. In this piece poet and author John Burnside writes for Scotland’s Sunday Herald an essay In Praise of Madness. His contention is that a little bit of craziness is an essential ingredient to the creative process. His essay suggests we should get rid of some of the archaic ideas we have with regard to the treatment of mental illness.

TS Szasz expressed this idea best, years ago, in his 1958 essay Psychiatry, Ethics And Criminal Law: “The question may now be raised as to what are the differences, if any, between social nonconformity (or deviation) and mental illness. Leaving technical psychiatric considerations aside for the moment, I shall argue that the difference between these two notions – as expressed for example by the statements “he is wrong” and “he is mentally ill” – does not necessarily lie in any observable facts to which they point, but may consist only of a difference in our attitudes toward our subject. If we take him seriously, consider him to have human rights and dignities, and look upon him as more or less our equal – we then speak of disagreements, deviations, fights, crimes, perhaps even of treason. Should we feel, however, that we cannot communicate with him, that he is somehow “basically” different from us, we shall then be inclined to consider him no longer as an equal but rather as an inferior person; and then we speak of him as being crazy, mentally ill, insane, psychotic, immature, and so forth.”

This is still the case. Anyone who has ever been in a mental hospital knows that, to be considered well, he must construct a narrative that the outside world can take seriously – and to do so, he must discard his own dreams and visions, no matter how vivid, diagnostically accurate or even just plain beautiful they might be. Why? Because our idea of what constitutes madness, whether in the asylum, or buried deep within our own social personae, is symptomatic of a system built on a near-total rejection of the wild mind.

The 10th links leads to an article about the madness that attends the first week of college attendance.

Alright, let’s look at our tally. We’ve got dramatic personas, scientists tagging sharks, a television actor, gamers or something of the sort, philanthropists, a rugby player, a soccer player, marching band members, a poet, and college students. Only one of these people has confessed to being a former mental patient, and that’s John Burnside, the poet and author mentioned previously.

Hmm. Makes a body think, doesn’t it?

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