We hear the word “crazy” being thrown around just about every day. “He’s crazy to say that!” Or, “She must be crazy to believe that!” In the great majority of cases when people call another person crazy they don’t really mean mentally ill. What they really mean is, “I don’t agree with you!” The psychiatric definition of crazy includes sensory hallucinations and/or delusions. Delusions have to be obvious, such as a false belief that someone on the television or the Internet is talking to you personally.
Most people don’t stop to think what they’re saying when they call a person’s behavior, choices or ideas crazy. It might be the kind of clothes someone buys, the kind of house they choose to live in, the friends or spouse they choose … all of these are subject to being called crazy. Sometimes people will call you crazy directly to your face. Doing so is a contradiction. Because if you really thought someone had so lost control of his or her mind that he or she were experiencing hallucinations and/or delusions, communication and persuasion would be futile.
In our modern world of made-up “facts” and the patently incorrect use of all sorts of labels, the term “crazy” has become a tool to intimidate you into changing your mind. “You’re crazy to marry that person.” Or, “Don’t take that job. You’re crazy if you do.” Or maybe, “Don’t believe that! Only crazy people think that way.” In these cases, it makes more sense to say something like, “I think what you’re doing is irrational.” The word “irrational” implies without reason, or with wrong reasons. The burden is then on the accuser to explain his or her reasons. When that same person calls you “crazy”, it’s meant to shame you into submission. Submission is not reason; don’t fall for it. Sadly, that tool of intimidation can be pretty effective with some people.
People often resort to intimidation to get another person to change his or her mind, rather than employing the distinctively human method of integrating facts with reason, logic and persuasion. Now THAT’S crazy, if you think about it. Because people changing their minds simply because you called them a name or otherwise intimidated them is not really changing a mind at all. The next time someone calls you crazy or implies it, ask them for proof. “Do you see evidence that I’m having hallucinations or obvious delusions? If so, what’s that evidence?” Their reaction and/or name-calling will instantly reveal their hidden agenda: They disagree with you about something. The same works in reverse. Before you call or label another person crazy, ask yourself: “Do I really think this person has schizophrenia or mental illness? Or do I simply disagree with his choices or ideas?”
When you look up the definitions of mental illness or insanity, you’ll see how health professionals define these terms. Arm yourself with descriptions of the characteristics of insanity – delusions, hallucinations, not knowing who you are, where you are, or even what year it is. Ask the accusing party to please provide evidence that you’re displaying any of these symptoms. Hopefully this will bring the accuser back to providing you with reasons for their disagreement. Labels are a cowardly shortcut to proving a point – and the use of that shortcut will become even more obvious if your accuser gets angry and starts calling you names.
Take responsibility for what you think — and prove it. It’s fair to the other person, and it’s a healthy policy for managing your own character and mental health. If more people did that, this world would be a LOT less crazy than the one in which we currently find ourselves.
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