Etymologically. Etymologically, the word ‘mad’ is the past participle ‘mei-‘, an Old Norse word meaning merely ‘to change’. And even today, it is ‘changes in personality’ that are often considered a form of mental illness. This fills me with such outrage that I can barely speak. The notion that one’s ‘personality’ is a priori complete and any alteration in it must be considered pathological is a sacralization of death itself. For it is only in death that our character and persona become ‘set in stone’. Ordinarily, as one grows up, one’s ‘personality’ is the mere unconscious, unreflective reaction to one’s environment, in no way fully chosen or willed into a beautiful, ideal and mature shape. Ordinarily, we are groomed to be mere slaves of our society and progenitors. To achieve genuine fulfilment, requires what Carl Jung called individuation, a process of deliberate self-creation and realization, i.e. of change from the state we found ourselves to originally be thrown into. Moreover, for someone who is consciously unhappy, change in oneself, or sometimes in one’s environment, is the one absolutely essential requirement, and this pathologization of it is the most stifling and oppressive thing imaginable. To be told you have to ‘remain’ in the fetal, unformed, self-effacing state in which you currently are, truly makes one want to give up the will to live!
It is precisely in this all too sudden, vexed realization of the vanity and folly of one’s previous ideals and presentations to the world, receiving no support from one’s social environment, that produces the manifest rage and anger also associated with this word ‘mad’, that is often so incomprehensible to others. The fact is, though, that kept within proper bounds, i.e. not manifesting any grossly violent behaviours towards others, this is an extremely healthy and natural reaction. There are so many absurdities and contradictions, or even outright abuse, in the way most people are raised, and in the way the world operates as such, that the true pathology, the greatest sickness of all, is simply to go a long with it all un-noticing of its follies. If this is so – which it certainly is – one is forced to ask why is it not recognized by those invested with the care of ‘mental illness’? The only logical answer is that these so-called ‘services’ are, in some respects at least, an intentional ploy to re-inforce the status quo and prevent people from rebelling against and ‘changing’ the gaping flaws, rampant injustices and ecological disasters in the current way in which society is organized, in which so many people have a vested interest.
When I say the word. When I say the word ‘madness’, I have visions of the bubbling, molten surface of the sun, ready to explode into the Universe and change EVERYTHING with its almighty yellow light.