"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Insanity - Questions

Insanity - Questions

user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 95
Here's a possible question that might be good to debate:

In Ford v. Wainwright (1986), the US Supreme Court upheld the common law rule that the insane cannot be executed. Should our tax dollars be used to sustain insane criminals behind bars, in jail for life, or in psychiatric wards when there is no hope for rehabilitation? Why?

Good Luck
thanks for the first question!...a few things to think about before the meetup:
- can you determine there is no hope for rehabilitation?
- are you suggesting that a criminal with no hope of rehabilitation does not have a right to live?
- does the fact that someone is insane mean they had no choice in their condition...does that change anything to the question of whether they can be "punished" for actions that derive from their condition?
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 96
Here's a possible question that might be good to debate:

In Ford v. Wainwright (1986), the US Supreme Court upheld the common law rule that the insane cannot be executed. Should our tax dollars be used to sustain insane criminals behind bars, in jail for life, or in psychiatric wards when there is no hope for rehabilitation? Why?

Good Luck

Yes! I was almost attacked by a "crazy" guy in the park in the Summer. If it wasn't for my dog, I don't what would've happened to me. When the police arrived they said that they couldn't do anything, unless something would've happened to me and in any case, if the guy was to kill me all he could get was to be taken to a ward handcuffed... I have worked since I was 13, I went to school, live a normal life, but most importantly I pay my taxes and. Yet it means nothing if an insane guy was to murder me. The law protecting insane criminals is insane itself.

Must've been a pretty frightening experience...
Question: what if you or a person close to you had been born with a mental condition that produced consistent unlawful actions? How do you think society should treat you?
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 98
Feel free to add your questions for the topic of insanity. The best questions will be incorporated in the handouts for the event.

Not to get super heavy, but can we discuss how definitions of sanity and insanity have been used as very powerful social/religious/political controls in most societies since pretty much the dawn of time? And how the label of "insane" can profoundly affect one's course in life from education, to reproduction, to even incarceration?

Excellent question. This will extend the question of both insanity's definition, its relationship with what is "normal" and accepted behavior, and the issues and consequences of whether and where to draw the line between sane/insane.

Homosexuality was in the DSM manual (used to diagnose mental illnesses) until 1973.
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 99
Hi Folks,

I'd start by defining sanity. To be sane is to think and act consistently to what is true. When we think or act inconsistently to what is universally true, we are being insane.

For example, to be standing in the street and expect a rock to drop up into the sky when released is thinking insanely - not because it's not possible for a rock to drop up. Rather, because the rock is not likely to drop up while standing in the street on planet Earth. To be clear, rocks may drop up somewhere - just not here. It all depends on where we stand.

Insanity shows its ugly head subtly. Here's an example:

We say we hate child abuse. In our disdain for the abuser and in our convictions to stop it or declare our opinion of it, we may display anger and judgment - particularly against child abuse offenders. Additionally, we leave bulletins, send out e-mails, have discussions, etc. about how we hate these cowards. To boot, we'll declare that whoever doesn't agree is ignorant, foolish, an idiot, etc. We apply guilt to manipulate friends, family, co-workers, etc. to forward the e-mail.

Here's the insanity in it. Child abuse is born from the same energy that judges child abusers. The hate, disdain, contempt, judgment, guilt and manipulation that we display and impose in our conversation about abuse or any form of violence are the same ingredients that bring the thing we say don't want. This is insane behavior.

Our expressions are violent and beget more of the same. It's the stuff from which abuse is born. WE GIVE IT LIFE by feeding it.. by extending more of the same, abuse thrives. Violence thrives.

This is insane for one reason only. It's insane because we say we don't want the violence, and yet we continue the behavior that perpetuates it. We do this consciously or not.

The good news is that we can do this sanely. How? We may become conscious about it and notice what we're doing and admit it. That way we can keep up the hostility we crave, sanely. It is not insane to crave violence. It's human nature. We crave struggle. We crave it for the Love that is accessed through it. LOVE IS THE DESIRED OUTCOME.

To stop child abuse, we need to put in what's missing, that if put in would displace the experience that causes child abuse or any form of violence. LOVE IS MISSING.

Love and violence cannot exist in the same space and time. It's either one or the other. Each displaces the other.

Imagine this: "War Against Terrorism". This is an insane premise. Why do we entertain it as if it is sane? We entertain it because we crave the struggle that it brings. Why do we crave the struggle? We crave the struggle because the struggle gives us access to what we really want. WE WANT LOVE.

Conflicts are cracks through which Love flows. We need hate to know Love, the same way we need cold to know hot. It's as simple as that.

We need hate to recognize Love, and celebrate it. Love is the desired income. Love is the goal. It's available eternally, always and all ways. We either allow Love to flow or we don't. We do this consciously or not. It's a choice.

The challenge is that we tend to forget that the conflicts are our tools to access Love. We treat the conflicts as if they are the important factor. Insanity creeps in.

We forget that conflicts are only signs that point in the direction that Love can be found. That's it - not very complicated at all.

Addicted and unconscious as we are, we'll invalidate this premise for something complicated. Why? Hehehe.. Because we crave the conflict and struggle, OF COURSE. ;)

Where else do we operate insanely?

How do we know when we are being sane?



Conduit to Flow

Interesting ideas...look fwd to discussing them. A few questions pop to mind reflecting on your post:
- can you categorize as insanity any form of violence, anger, hate, disdain, contempt, judgment, guilt and manipulation?
- is child abuse always the result of insanity? if that is the case, then do we exonerate and never imprison (but instead always institutionalize) child abusers, as they are not responsible for their acts?
- if i think there is a war on terror, and you think i'm dead wrong, does that make me insane? are you abusing the word "insanity" possibly in the same way that the USSR was calling "insane" its political dissidents?
- many children who have been abused report that their relationship with the abuser (especially in the case of intrafamily abuse) are extremely complicated and often include both love, hate, self hatred etc...are love and hatred really exclusive? (not sure it is really on topic for the insanity meetup, but throwing it out there nonetheless)
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 100
I have already sent in my suggestions by mental telepathy to the members of this Meet-up. For those of you have some interference in the ether and were unable to receive them, I'm sorry but I can't put them up in a public place where any old spy could see them.

Here are my public suggestions:

I have recently reviewed a book by a Catholic theologian, so I have been thinking more than usual about religious beliefs and sanity. This might be out of bounds if we have a group with many presumably sane people who believe his theology makes sense.

How about people who have "religious experiences" but only some of the time, and have mixed feelings about those experiences when they're not having them? Some effort is being made (by neurologists) to study this although most of the previous analyses of it have been of a classic religious nature.

How about the legal revolution in this country when people diagnosed as psychopaths and unable to care for themselves were released from institutions because the SC said no one could be institutionalized against their will unless the gov't could demonstrate they were dangerous to themselves or others.

How about discussing circumstances when episodes of "insanity" are taken to give people genuine insight that we or they can't normally recognize?

Lots of great angles you open here.
- Is the "irrational" component in the religious experience related with insanity? Beyond that is being irrational a form of insanity?
- the relationship between insanity vs legal/ethics/responsibility will surely be a central topic
- your last point makes me think of drug-induced psychedelic experiences, and other "altered states of consciousness". There have been cases reported of bad LSD trips leading to serious mental issues, of hypnotic states leaving the patient in a mentally dysfunctional place.
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 101
We could also discuss how different cultures around the world define insanity, or how they "prove" that someone is insane. For instance, in the west, we commonly joke that "talking to oneself is the first sign of insanity", but is this the case elsewhere in the world?

I hope they're not too serious about it here: I talk to myself all the time. Thank goodness for earphones, now people just think i'm talking to someone on my cell phone ;-)

seriously, excellent question...everyone bring your own culture-centric insanity examples from around the world!
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 187
Here are comments from a friend who wanted me to post here on their behalf:

You chose a very good topic. People should know more about this, as the society is getting so complicated with less and less community and family environment.


First let me discuss Jekyll & Hyde... Schizophrenia... split personality... Some scientists think it is a misnomer. Dr. Peter S. Mueller of Princeton calls it Temporal Lobe Epilepsy...TLE). He is the god of helping patients with brain disorders. TLE (Schizophrenia) usually hits at the age of late teens to twenties. Sometimes in childhood or in thirties. Supposedly, 1% of the population have this condition in different forms. People with this condition hear voices possibly due to overproduction of some chemical(s) in the brain and do insane violent acts or just do or say stupid, harmless things according to the voices they hear. When there are no voices, they appear to be okay, quiet, lost or normal, I guess? The focus and concentration are diverted by the voices. Does not necessarily affect intelligence. It can be inherited or maybe a random mutation.

The genetic cause of this is still not scientifically very well understood. There has not been extensive research is done in this area. Maybe because not much money is expected in this field, as it affects young people who have no money or no health insurance ( I may have the wrong info). They lose their jobs early on. On the other hand Alzheimer hits patients who are old and have at least some money. However, academia are involved in this research. The good news is that medicines are available to control these symptoms and no voices are heard. These people can lead a normal life with correct diagnosis and understanding friends and family.


As far as I know the insanity has become in recent years a 'legal term'. Insane acts or violent acts are committed if the person is either not diagnosed of mental disorder or is not taking medicines.


What is the definition of a mentally normal person?

Is anyone perfect? Defect(s) in any of the gene(s)...effects of the environment...either too aggressive or violent...too sweet, happy, unhappy, depressed, guilty?

But, the worst or really insane are those who think themselves better than others
so called normal people (mediocre); commit harmful acts (which may not be defined as criminal acts) and hurt another living beings when driven by jealousy, competition, power, ignorance, or just whatever.

On the other hand some people are too passive. They get hurt and learn as they go out into the craziness of the world. Learn to fight back the next time...oh yeh everyone waits for that next time, as they go out into the craziness of the world. Are they normal and sane?

I have found that a person diagnosed with a brain disorder with proper medication is mentally more normal and thoughtful as such person understands his or her disorder and is modest...than so called normal mediocre people who do not know that they are sooo impaired and are generally disrespectful and abusive.


Mental disorders/handicaps or brain disorders of various kinds may find their way into the brain due to (a) environmental factors... a person been through a violent, abusive or traumatic environment in childhood or the way one is taught in general upbringing or brain washed by the people and circumstances around... or experiences in adulthood. Result could be anything... aggressiveness, inconsideration or on the contrary passiveness, guilt, depression etc.

The second reason may be of course(b)defect in any of the neural gene(s); a person is born with that defect which does not necessarily affects the intelligence.

Einstein's qoutation: "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." Common sense, intellect, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, education of mind does not come with a college degree or money.

I, myself learn everyday something new. Paul Engles said "Wisdom is to know what you don't know." This way, one does not feel stupid or mediocre. Admitting that you are learning something is a great virtue. It is not ignorance.
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 102
Feel free to add your questions for the topic of insanity. The best questions will be incorporated in the handouts for the event.

If man finds himself in others?
Is it others who find man insane?

Where does insanity begin and end?
Does it begin with society as a collective whole and end with the individual?

Was Hitler insane?
To the Germans, to the Jews?

Great questions. Can you expand a bit on what you mean by "Does it begin with society as a collective whole and end with the individual?"
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 103
Technically, the word "insane" is a legal term. What are your views on replacing the "not guilty by reason of insanity" plea with a "guilty but mentally ill" plea as some states have done in recent years?

Beyond the substantially different "flavor" of the label, what consequence did that change have in the states that have implemented it for the individual concerned?
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 104
My questions would be:

How is insanity defined in medical terms? Or who defines it anyways?
Is there a brain, neuro whatever description to it?

how are emotions included in all this (as insanity is not only mental). I would actually love to hear about the connection between thoughts and emotions (but not just the new age blah blah of positive thinking and how thoughts are supposed to create reality, please)
Where do psychological illnesses fit into all this?

What is the difference between mentally ill and genious?

I personally don't believe anyone is much more sane than others (even if we go in and out of practical phases in life and some people are more financially or socially successful than others). I think the biggest insanity is to try to act properly sane.
But again.. i may be insane :)

Good questions...that relate to both the definition, scope and the different types of mental illnesses. Which makes me think...does each type of insanity need to be considered differently?
Can you talk about a schizophrenic, a bipolar or a Down Syndrome patient in the same way? Are depression, ADHD to be considered insanity? Are some of our every day compulsions (impulse buying, food craving, nail biting etc...) mild forms of compulsive disorders?
Is there a continuum between sane and insane states/conditions? Mental illness can affect specific regions, leaving others intact or even hyperdeveloped (ex: idiot savants)...can you be both mentally ill AND a genious?
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