Posted by: jedwardswright | September 2, 2011

Am I Going Insane?

The first thing to understand is that insanity is a legal term.

According to the Law.Com dictionary, insanity is “mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.”[i] It is related to the issue of capacity, or the ability of an accused to formulate the intention to commit the crime of which he or she stands accused.[ii]

In other words, insanity is not a psychiatric diagnosis. There is no “Insanity” heading in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) under which certain mental health conditions are grouped. Unless you have been charged with a crime, the term “insanity” is not relevant to your mental health.

The next thing you are liable to ask then is, “Am I crazy?”

Basically, crazy is treated as a synonym to insane. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines crazy as “completely unrestrained by reason or judgment.” Other meanings have to do with being “carried away” by emotion, having rabies, or wild, chaotic activity.[iii]

Here is where I get on my soapbox. As far as I am concerned, “crazy” is an inappropriate word to apply in any way to a person suffering from a mental health condition. It belongs to the dark era of asylums and lobotomies, and that is where it needs to stay.

Ditto for all the other euphemisms for mental health problems and they are legion.  Here are just a few that need to be dropped from society’s vocabulary.

bonkers                                                 off his nut                                           losing it/losing her mind

loony                                                     cracking up                                         going nuts

nuttier than a fruitcake                      bats/batty                                           unhinged

out of his mind                                     touched                                               demented

Any civilized educated person would never use the word “retarded” to refer to a mentally handicapped person these days, but they might use the term crazy to talk about someone with depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Times have changed. Hopefully people are becoming more aware and understanding of the physiological causes behind mental health issues. Reforming the language surrounding these conditions would be another large step in the right direction.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please do not be embarrassed to consult with your doctor. There are millions of people with depression, and most respond favorably to treatment.

You are not alone, you are not insane, you are not crazy and odds are you can get better with help.


  1. Reblogged this on A Darker Shade of Blue and commented:

    If you are depressed, odds are that you have asked yourself, “Am I going crazy?” This post seeks to answer that question.

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