Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Sobering Experience

by Jean Roberta

Definitions of insanity are parallel to definitions of obscenity. They all tend to be circular. In effect, “obscenity” is a picture or a description of anything the viewer or reader thinks should not be shown. “Insanity” is any person or action that seems illogical in the eyes of the viewer.

So, for example, when my new husband insisted that I had had sex with some stranger on the arm of the armchair I had bought second-hand (and which had a stain on the arm), I thought he sounded insane. He thought I was a nympho, a woman with an insane appetite for sex. His arguments always led back to the fact that I hadn’t been a virgin when he met me, so obviously, I was a nympho. How could I deny it?

His accusations continued from then until I left him, which further confirmed my insane, impulsive nature in his mind. Clearly, I was suffering from post-natal depression, a kind of insanity lite.

Gossip often includes at least one accusation that someone is “insane.” In some cases, the accusation is mutual, especially when the gossip follows a divorce. Very few exes seem to have been sane at any time in their lives.

Most of the time, I take reports of someone else’s “insanity” with a huge spoonful of salt, even if the person has spent time in a psychiatric facility. (Definitions of “insanity” have varied wildly from one culture and era to another.)

Re being illogical, however, I have to admit that sometimes I’m guilty. On Friday, I went to the first holiday dinner party of the season, in the home of a friend who keep a large quantity of wine in her front room. (She knows of an outlet that sells it for about $5 Canadian per bottle to customers who supply their own bottles.) I over-indulged, and today I regret it.

Gah! I think I'll be saner for the rest of the season.


  1. Don't be too sane, Jean!

    However, your point is well made. Insanity is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

  2. Thank you for commenting, Lisabet. For better or worse, I’m in the midst of exams, and I have to post grades for all my students (about 115 of them) a.s.a.p. I can’t really afford to celebrate too much yet, though it’s tempting. :)

  3. There used to be a time when uppity women (except for the rich ones) were considered insane. Hmm. Now they're just considered evil.

  4. Insanity isn't something that should be dismissed if one's issues interfere with living a full, productive life. Having said that, the words 'crazy' or 'insane' seem to be tossed around too easily these days.

  5. Too true, Sacchi, Daddy X, I like the word "dysfunctional" for anything that interferes with living a full, productive life. I agree that many people have "issues" (including addictions to substances & other obsessions that aren't good for them)that can't be dismissed. But as I know from past relationships with several of them, anyone can accuse anyone else of being "crazy," and the ones who seem irrational themselves are often the first to throw the accusation. IMO, we all have to decide on how much we can accept and how much is too much, even though there may never be a really objective way of testing whether someone is sane or insane.


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