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"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Insanity - Questions

Insanity - Questions

user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 105
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.

while there is a clear influence of genetics and early brain development, there is also growing evidence that trauma, stress and other environmental conditions could also be contributing factors in the expression of the condition, even if not as central as in other dysfunctions like PTSD and dissociative disorders.

Btw, there are often many other symptoms of schizophrenia in addition to hearing voices, in fact you could even say many types of schizophrenia, depending on which symptoms occur more frequently: visual or other sensory hallucinations, delusions, confusion, depressive states and other severe mood swings, talking nonsense...

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.

I'd like to mention that
1/ violence is actually a fairly rare occurence with schizophrenia, and is often more the result of misunderstandings about the patient's intentions and admittedly bizarre behavior than of some inherently violent tendencies in patients.
2/ while medication is the currently universally agreed upon solution to schizophrenia (as it is to so many other problems) there are psychotherapeutic and behavioral approaches being explored, that have already showed some success in reducing the need for medication. While medication is absolutely the most effective treatment in the large majority of cases, you cannot ignore the sometimes severe side effects of those medications. (tremors, social withrawal, sedation, weight gain, diabetes,...)


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.

so insanity is to think you're sane? :-)

More seriously (just a bit more) can't you say that the above people are just suffering from milder forms of mental disorders that were also caused by genetic, environmental, educational factors? Is the difference with "insane" people that they are more conscious of their actions? That the compulsions to act certain ways is less severe and therefore they should be able to control it?

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.

Amen. Hopefully your friend can come to the meetup!
A former member
Post #: 2
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.

I'd exercise caution in characterizing insanity in terms of false thoughts. Centuries ago, many believed the world was flat; the fact that this belief was false does not imply that these thinkers were insane. Likewise, believing falsehoods like "all terrorists are insane", "if i die as a martyr i'll get 40 virgins in heaven", or "individual consciousness survives the death of the body" is not a sufficient criterion for insanity. Thus, acting consistently with such false beliefs is not a criterion for insanity.

Similarly -- for you cultural relativists out there -- holding and acting on beliefs that are inconsistent with what is generally held to be true in a community does not constitute insanity. For example, the minority of western europeans in 1400 who believed the world was round, and of american evangelical christians alive today who believe in evolution, are not properly called insane for their beliefs.

What kinds of thoughts indicate "insanity"? For a start, two kinds of "insane judgment" come to mind: perceptual judgments and expectations about events and about others' intentions. If someone is typically unable to distinguish hallucination from perception in any way, and acts accordingly, this is arguably "insane". If someone suffers from radical paranoia, this is arguably "insane". Hallucinatory and paranoid judgments most clearly count as insanity when they are part of a person's everyday state. We should also count as insane more or less fleeting periods (such as during a psychotic episode). But there has to be a fuzzy boundary somewhere, beyond which a single instance of hallucinatory or paranoid judgment does not constitute "insanity".

In cases of hallucinatory and paranoid judgment, there is an inconsistency with "what is true", as Joe suggested. The falsehood is believed (or something like believed), not merely "thought"; and the falsehood is attributable to a (chronic or fleeting) cognitive disorder for which we should expect to find a neurological basis. People who are insane through hallucinatory or paranoid judgment are out of touch with reality -- but not in the way that a scientist, priest, or layman with a bad theory is out of touch with reality.

The question of whether or not acting on an "insane judgment" is required for a condition to count as insanity is interesting. If a person knows that they have a tendency to paranoia, and generally refrains from acting on paranoid thoughts and feelings (e.g., she doesn't start running down the street or looking over her shoulder) -- but can't shake the thoughts and feelings when they arise -- aren't they still "insane" in the manner of the paranoiac? "I know this isn't true, but I just can't believe it."
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