Sanity

Alexander Liss

12/31/2000

Insane Society *

Stable Insane Societies *

Efficiency in Insane Society *

Mechanism of Insanity *

Hard Foundation of Insanity *

Sane in Insane Society *

Perpetual Review *

Rigid Ideas - Way to Insanity *

Three Choices *

Way to Sanity *

Perfect Insanity *

Vacillation *

Reassessment *

Originality *

Respect *

Art *

 

Insane Society

We, each of us, live in an insane society. Because we are a part of it, we are insane. The only question is what is a degree of this insanity.

A simple observation is sufficient to realize it.

We can look at society in large - the humanity. We see perpetual murders with strange justifications - wars, genocide, etc. We should be in horror, when we have courage to look back at these moments in history. Still, we are looking for some interesting and "useful" images from that horrible past, may be preparing ourselves to repeat it, possibly on a larger scale.

 

Stable Insane Societies

In recent history, we have examples of two huge stable insane societies - the Soviet Union and the Nazi Germany.

Because they were stable, the ideas and images, which were a foundation of the insane behavior in these countries, were accepted as having merit by many people. They were accepted even in societies relatively free of this insanity.

This is a common pattern. People often judge ideas and images by their stability - "If it is stable and accepted by many, then it is true".

This habit of thinking that what exists and stable is right, creates a fertile ground for insanity. Any social group, which can stabilize itself by cutting off any external ideological challenge, can perpetuate in its own kind of insanity.

This worked in the Soviet Union and in the Nazi Germany then; it works in different cults and other cult like social groups now.

 

Efficiency in Insane Society

To function efficiently in a stable society it is sufficient to have behavior and views, which do not differ much from acceptable in this society behavior and views. This is how we judge "sanity".

However, this is a not criterion of sanity. For example, when a society is in a transition, then views of a few "relatively insane" members of this society eventually dominate a new form of this society and become its norm. What was "sane" in the old society becomes "insane" in the new one.

 

Mechanism of Insanity

Generally, a manifestation of insanity is a set of stable ideas and images, which affects the decision making process and which contradicts reality. This is applicable to a person and to a society.

Unfortunately, we cannot use this definition to differentiate who is insane and who is not, or which society is insane and which is not, because we are not sure that our own ideas and images are right. If we are not sure in our own sanity, how can we judge sanity of others?

We should look at a mechanism of insanity.

 

Hard Foundation of Insanity

Sometimes there is a "hard" foundation for insanity - a wrong "wiring" or "chemistry" in a person's brain or harsh living conditions of a society. About always, on this foundation there is a growth of ideas and images, which do not correspond to ideas and images of other people or other societies. This leads to inability to benefit from communication with others people or societies.

If at some moment, a person or a society is released from these hard conditions, but these ideas and images are stable, then they impede an adaptation of the person or a society to normal conditions.

These stable ideas and images are insanity.

This case is the easiest to detect and understand, because "they" are a few, "they" are obviously different from others, and "they" are not flexible and successful by measures of others.

 

Sane in Insane Society

It is difficult to detect that an entire society is insane. How does one get enough courage to say that he is sane and his society is not? What one should do in this case, to become a dissident?

It is obvious that a life in a perpetual conflict with a society is not normal - this is not sane. It is saner to find a healthier society, to escape there and to live there in relative harmony with it. Some do not have this choice. They have to choose between being insane as everyone, while happily perceiving themselves as sane, or being knowingly in an insane state of perpetual conflict with a society.

This is an extreme case, but we face similar challenges every day. Should we accept our current views on a particular subject as true, or should we consider another point of view? Should we accept views of an authority in this subject, or should we spend time and develop our own views? When we have a difficult decision to make, should we go to an authority and ask what to do, as we did with our parents in childhood, or should we collect advice and arrive to an our own decision?

 

Perpetual Review

Essentially, these are questions of how we deal with the systems of ideas and images. Which idea we trust, and which one we challenge.

It is easy to see that there is no sure way to be right. Ideas and images, which we got from parents, are often outdated. Ideas and images, which we got from authorities, often reflect their desire to dominate us and not our interest. Our own ideas and images developed awhile ago often do not reflect some factors we did not know then.

Hence, our system of ideas and images needs a perpetual challenge and review.

Without such review, it can lead us to insanity.

 

Rigid Ideas - Way to Insanity

A system of rigid ideas and images has a tendency to grow through an accumulation - a new layer upon old ones. The process is self-supporting - at some moment of such development, this system is perceived by a person or by a society as something valuable regardless its ability to reflect reality. Such system can achieve a state of sustainable grows. The discrepancy between it and reality grows - the growth of the system is stimulated by its internal factors and it increasingly deviates from ever changing reality.

This is how a person or a society arrives to insanity. Often, the decision making based on faulty system of ideas and images leads to painful failures, which cause a review of this system. However, some unlucky persons or societies can develop a system, which is not reviewed but appended in the case of faulty decisions. This is a case of insanity, which is difficult to treat.

 

Three Choices

As a part of an insane society, we have no hope to be sane.

We have three choices.

We can be on the way to saner state.

We can follow insanity of society - we can adjust our ideas and images to ideas and images of the society, in which we live.

We can vacillate between these two ways.

 

Way to Sanity

The way to saner state is a difficult one.

It requires a perpetual review of the system of ideas and images, which constitutes our mentality. There are not many tools to do this and they are not simple - otherwise we would see many sane or about to be sane people and societies.

The most important among them is a perpetual communication with people, who want to be sane. They can help, when one blindly ventures in a wrong direction. Their example can show how it is possible to fit into insane circumstances without loosing one's mind.

The danger here is a creation of an own insane structure of ideas, images and rituals of "sanity seekers". This happens all the time with religious movements.

The other is meditation - a "thoughtless" state of mind, where interrelations between ideas and images get looser and a new idea has a chance to surface to consciousness.

One hardly can expect a radical personal return to sanity from a level of insanity of one's society - a complete shakeup of the system of ideas and images. This system defines how we think and feel - it is hard to change. One can expect a gradual reworking of layers of this system from outer ones to inner ones - one-by-one.

This way is rather sad - it is sad to know that there is little chance to achieve sanity and it is sad to live surrounded by insanity of higher degree than your own.

If one feels too comfortable in an insane society - this is a sign that one is not sane.

There is a bright side. Returning to sanity is returning to one's nature. It is returning to own self. It is returning to being an integral part of a society. It is returning to feeling of being alive, making own decisions, affecting the world.

The process of acquiring of new experiences with additions of new ideas and images and a perpetual review of old ideas and images is what can be called a process of personal growth. This is not an addition of new layers, this is a kind of rebirth every day.

It is attractive - others want similar results, when they simply see that this is possible. Hence, a personal growth automatically creates a growth of a society.

This is worth the efforts.

 

Perfect Insanity

The way to a "perfect insanity", when one internalizes insane ideas and images of one's society is not easy and often painful.

First there are many variants of insane ideas and images to internalize, they contradict each other and they change. This requires a hard work of following all of them and turning a blind eye on their contradictions.

When one uses these insane ideas to make decisions, one gets in a conflict with reality, and this often hurts.

For such person the world looks as random, demanding ever-growing efforts to control it.

The payoff is a socially recognized success. However, people see them as immoral, dangerous and unattractive to be with.

They lose big, when the society changes radically - all their accumulated insane ideas and images are not needed any more.

 

Vacillation

Vacillation is the most common way. People want a social recognition and bend their inner feeling of right and wrong to get it.

Eventually, a feeling of guilt forces them to some "retreat" to sanity.

And this goes on and on.

This is a painful way.

On the way to bigger insanity, the feeling of guilt hurts. In addition, there is a pain of making bad decisions, because of the faulty system of ideas and images.

On the way back to sanity, there are painful losses in social recognition, understanding of stupidity of own actions, etc.

 

Reassessment

These new concepts - insane society and way to saner state, should allow us to look differently on many phenomena of our life.

 

Originality

In an insane society, there are two concepts of originality. One is an accepted one, and the other is a natural one, but rarely heard.

An accepted concept of person's originality deals with a fragile personal system of ideas, images and behavior patterns, which while different, fit into social system of ideas and images, which is insane. Most likely this personal system is insane also. It should be fragile. There is no support for it in reality and there is not much support for it in social system of ideas and images.

A natural way to look at originality is to recognize that all people are naturally diverse, see things differently and form different systems of ideas and images. Hence, the concept is not interesting, except when some pressure is applied to suppress this diversity. In this case, it has sense to support this natural diversity, to support originality.

 

Respect

In an insane society, people are respected for their achievements, for their ability to fit well into the society accordingly to society's insane measures.

Naturally, one has to respect a person regardless a person's status in the society. Each person has a unique way of perceiving reality. If one respects a person, then one has a chance to get a glance at reality from a different point of view. This is a precious moment. It is a moment, when one can grow.

 

Art

Layers of a stable rigid system of ideas and images are so strong, that it takes a talent and lot of efforts to find a chink in this armor and to expose it. Always this is a shocking experience. In an insane society, artists dedicate their efforts mostly to delivery of such experience. This could be a helpful tool for one, who seeks sanity.

Naturally, we admire the triumph of organization over chaos - this is life. We are moved, when we witness it.

This is even embedded in our senses.

We perceive as pleasurable positioning of objects in particular precise relationship to each other.

We perceive as pleasurable smells of growth and blossoming, and as revolting smells of death and decay.

Anyone who delivers an experience of such triumph is an artist.

Everyone should do it - this is a triumph of life.