Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Define sane" Pt.2: An Afterthought: What About Mental Illness?

~ This post is a Part Two. There was also a Part One. ~

I just realized something that might strike some as odd. In my previous post answering the tired ol' challenge "Define sane!" - I didn't so much as touch on mental illness. I kind of forgot to.

Well, why should I though? Why should I touch on mental illness. I was defining sanity. I realize a lot of people seem to think mental illness is on one end of a scale that has sanity at its other end. Even more people, unable to so much as say what "sane" is or means, define sanity as an absence of insanity. These people are dolts!

Well okay, not "dolts," necessarily, maybe. But they can't be thinking things through! Sanity is a positive strength, a faculty, a virtue - a superpower almost. It's not simply an absence of insanity - sanity is not the absence of impaired sanity. You could with as much sense and justification define light as the absence of darkness - the absence of the absence of light. This is a mystical, circular, ridiculous way of looking at things.

Certainly, mental illness can impair sanity. Can be a cause of insanity. Insanity can be the result of mental illness - though it isn't always. Where the mental illness is serious, or the episode is a bad one, mental illness can create a psychotic break - can upset or disable an individual's ability to do the two things a sane person can do: see reality, and act appropriately (aspects already treated thoroughly in previous post). But most people who have a mental illness, diagnosed or not diagnosed, treated or untreated, are not insane.

They have sanity. Sometimes compromised to a degree, but often as unimpaired as most anyone else. They can see reality, act appropriately.

Mental illness is not the same as insanity. You could not even call it "the" cause of insanity as if there is only one cause. In humans, there is a great deal of insanity - the critical inability to see reality or act appropriately - which is not caused by disease.

Sanity is not simply "the lack of insanity."

Sanity is a smooth and cool and calm and powerful thing.

Being at one with one's world, or at least, having the ability to circle it fairly close in, and join it at will. The power to work within it, to grasp and make contact with the objects and surfaces and concepts others see and grasp and make contact with. Maybe not the exact same grip! Maybe not the exact same hold, but a strong and useful grasp nonetheless. The ability to see and set appropriate goals, so that you can produce effects aimed at...well, whatever it is you're realistically trying to do! Whatever you dedicate your sanity to.

Sanity is more precious than happiness to me. We've seen and been crushed by horrible things; horrible things pop happiness like a bubble. Happiness won't get you through them.

But hold on. Sanity can.

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