The Dividing Line Between Crazy and Not Crazy

Crazy is not being in touch with reality.

Being in touch with reality means seeing things clearly, without the veils or filters known as defenses.

We employ defenses (e.g., denial, projection, dissociation) when reality is too painful to see.

Reality is too painful to see because we have unresolved historical traumas due to the actual horror of the realities we have experienced.

Our defenses make life more palatable to us, yet they’re all manifestations of our craziness.

To that end, we’re all crazy to some degree, to the degree that we have defenses.

However, part of the craziness of society is to only label as crazy a certain tip of the iceberg of the defenses.

The easiest people to label crazy are not necessarily any crazier than the rest of us, but only have defenses different from the norm, especially defenses that are difficult for the norm to understand or relate to.

On a macro scale, this is why it’s easier for people to label other cultures as crazy while failing too see the craziness in their own.

All of this, individually and societally, is a defense in and of itself, known as splitting (i.e., idealizing one’s own group or self and devaluing the “Other”).

By labeling some people as crazy and labeling “us” as sane or normal we don’t have to face our defenses, and thus our defenses can stay unconscious, comfortable, and intact.

Also, many people labeled crazy can’t function as well in society.

This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily any crazier than anyone else, and sometimes they may even be objectively less crazy, that is, better able to see reality.

To that end, a hypothetically completely sane person who pointed out others’ conventional defenses could infuriate them and cause them to project their craziness onto him or her and label him or her crazy.

Essentially, if a person stocked full of psychological defenses is just able to fit in and function, others like him or her will not consider him or her crazy.

This allows all sorts of objectively crazy behavior and attitudes and ways of thinking to fly under the radar of conventional consciousness.

Also, part of healing psychological wounds and the defenses holding them in place means slowly facing reality more.

This can be extremely painful, and for a time, sometimes a long time, this can make it more difficult for a person to function in society.

So even though a person is healing their wounds, that is, becoming healthier, they can be considered more crazy.

Also, many supposedly sane people are actually just one step away from being labeled crazy.

A few shifts in defenses, a slightly lessened ability to hide their defensive patterns, or a shift to an environment where different defenses are considered acceptable can lead others to look at them as crazy.

12 thoughts on “The Dividing Line Between Crazy and Not Crazy

  1. I appreciate reading this view of psychological defenses, it’s a topic I’m very interested in, and this articles helps me get clearer about it. I agree with the big picture you give here, I would like to know more of your thoughts about aspects such as, is it really pain or is it mostly fear, that is an obstacle in seeing reality: “Reality is too painful to see because we have unresolved historical traumas due to the actual horror of the realities we have experienced.”

  2. I love this! We are all crazy and different- we get to be-we can learn from those differences if we allow ourselves to.

  3. I’ve struggled with being labelled and feeling “crazy” for a lot of my life, particularly within my family of origin. I do think a lot of them react to any intense emotions which I happen to have, whether it be obvious fear, sadness, anger, etc. I tend to be a lot more sensitive than most and feel more; you could say with less defenses and unrepressed. Ever since I went NC from my whole family, I’m beginning to see myself as the sane one and actually, not the “crazy” one, though sometimes, I still honestly can feel crazy. I just find it astonishing how people who are exceedingly dysfunctional can fit into this society, more than those who can see and feel more. Numb became the standard for healthiy in this society; to be disconnected from yourself became normal.

    • I have been no contact with my family for awhile now and happy for the first time in my life! My life belongs to me and only I decide who I will share myself with. As a result of this decision I feel more safe.

  4. I couldn”t love this more if I tried. And I will add one more, which may or may not be a tip. But during this time you actually do have time to get sick with a cold at the very least. Not that I want to be sick by any means. But take this past week, I must have been run down from all the craziness in the last few months. So when I finally do have a break now, I found myself actually not just feeling burnt out, but sick. Yup, I have a go old fashioned head cold this week. Honestly just glad it hit during a slow time. But still I guess it is what it is. Thanks for the advice and also for always being my sounding board, too

  5. Hi Daniel, What you share is very true. The question is , what is required for someone’s defenses to drop in order to see reality as it really is? Safety. How does someone cultivate a sense of safety in their lives? Cultivating self-understanding and learning to trust one’s self through what they have known to be true in their experience. Having their experiences validated through others who have greater understanding about what is really going on. I have spent years getting to the point where it was safe enough for me to let my defenses soften and dissolve. Still working on this. I wake up each morning contemplating the horror I experienced as a child, and am in awe that I actually not only survived it, but am now able to challenge the belief system that I adopted in order to survive it. What I had to come to believe about myself in order to try to make sense of the insanity. I needed to cultivate a cognitive safety net in order to allow myself the capacity to feel what needed to be felt in order to heal. So much pain and grief. So much anger. I woke up today acknowledging the capacity of human beings to be so cruel, and how cruelty is so normal and accepted in the mainstream of society. I am left wondering how this is ever going to change on a huge scale. So many people’s defenses are normal and outside of their awareness. They don’t even have the awareness to see the impact of hurtful behaviour toward themselves and others. I feel I one of those people you share as being unable to function in society at the moment as I am healing from the atrocities I have experienced that have been normalized. I do appreciate your sharing of what you understand to be true. I feel supported in my journey of healing through your validating videos and writing. Thank you for having the courage to continue sharing…I feel that my healing process is legitimized by your sharing. I feel informed and stronger as I experience the pain and grief, knowing that I cannot bypass this experience of processing the tremendous loss I have encountered growing up in a severely dysfunctional family. Little by little I am retrieving the felt sense of my True Self which is my authentic Soul.

    • Wow! That was an incredible share! Everything you wrote I can relate to and resonates with me. I too am at a point of safety where I can actively heal. I learned a little while ago that when a wound heals, the scar is an indication of success. I thought you had to magically make the wound disappear and the skin to look the same as before the wound. I mean I use the past, it is my anchor. I proceed from that point.

  6. I think being mean is crazy. That is being racist, sexist, homophobic or prejudiced in any way. And intentionally taking advantage of someone with low boundaries. Going out of your way to hurt someone knowing that it will hurt them. Our society doesn’t agree with me, thinks that hurting people is normal, part of life. It is not up to me to train disrespectful, mean people to respect others.

    • Hi Rhona, I agree with you, but I would call it being “mad”. I think madness is different then crazyness. Madness is compelled by anger and rage. Not all crazy people hurt people, but madness can be projected out into the world with intense fury and not being able to see who is on the receiving end of it.

      • So because it’s normal, this madness of hurting people, nobody is researching ways to end it. Enlightened people say go, stay away. If we all reject madness, you get out of that person’s way and they run out of replacements or new victims because no one wants to be around them.

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