What’s “Crazy?”


According to dictionary.com, the medical definition for “crazy” states that the word means “mad” or “insane.” The word origin comes from the 1570-1580s, stating that crazy means “diseased, sickly, from craze; meaning “full of cracks or flaws”; the definition of crazy meaning that of “of unsound mind, or behaving as so” is from 1610s. People have labeled others as “crazy” for a very long time.

So, am I crazy? I see a shrink, have been in a mental hospital. I take a lot of pills and have participated in self-harming behaviour. Crazy?

I am really “full of cracks and flaws”, but I do not believe I am “of unsound mind”. That’s what “crazy” means to me. Some mentally ill people are very sensitive about the word general, and do not like to hear it used for anything, not even “Whoa, that movie was crazy!” I don’t really care about the usage of the word unless it is used in an insulting manner. If anyone called me “crazy,” I would assume that the person didn’t understand mental illness at all. Now, if a doctor called me “crazy” then I would believe it and feel devastated. If someone called my friend crazy I would be outraged. It totally depends on context for me.

At times I have felt really fucking crazy. I have felt like I have lost my mind and have done things where upon looking back I ask myself whether I was crazy at the time. Sometimes it’s the best word to use when describing one’s state of mind.

When I did the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder program at Homewood there was an instance where the program director asked us to raise our hand if we’ve ever felt crazy. Almost everyone in the room raised their hand. She told us to look around and then ask ourselves whether we thought the other people around us were crazy. I certainly didn’t think so, there were lots of people in there that I’d gotten to know and would swear to their sanity in any courtroom. The program director said that people with PTSD often feel crazy but that none of us were crazy.

What’s your viewpoint? Am I crazy? Have you felt crazy before? Should the word be used at all?

I’d love to get a discussion going around this!

*EDIT: I would also like to thank Maranda Elizabeth for getting my thoughts churning on this subject. She wrote a similar post in January here. She’s also the best blogger I know so read her blog too!

ErinWhat’s “Crazy?”