Going insane is a pretty common lyrical topic in rock music (especially if you listen to a lot of Ozzy Osbourne), and it’s pretty common for me to wonder “Am I losing my mind?” when confronted with some major or minor mental lapse on the day-to-day. But I never really thought about it seriously… until now.
So I got the new Harper’s magazine the other day (yes, I am very urbane, thank you for noticing!) and started reading one of the feature pieces, an article by Rachel Aviv called “Which Way Madness Lies” (not available on their website, sadly) about the possibility of diagnosing schizophrenia before it seriously takes hold.
A really good article, but there were a couple of things that disturbed me. Mainly, a questionnaire developed by a psychiatric institute to detect signs of possible encroaching psychosis. The first question (or at least the first one quoted by Aviv):
Do you daydream a lot or find yourself preoccupied with stories, fantasies, or ideas?
Uh… yeah… who doesn’t? Not, for example, anyone I know. Maybe I should hang out with saner people, but wouldn’t they be kind of boring if they’re not preoccupied with ideas?
The next question:
Do you think others ever say that your interests are unusual or that you are eccentric?
Uh… wait just a second here, do these things make me crazy?!
To my relief, after that the questions get into things that might actually make you crazy, like thinking that the world might not actually exist or that people around you might not be real. I mean, those kinds of thoughts cross my mind from time to time, but not regularly. That’s normal, right?
Later on the article describes the typical personality to later develop schizophrenia:
The only commonalities were that nearly all of them had moved through childhood and adolescence feeling more thoughtful, intelligent, or probing than their family or peers and that there had been an existential tinge to their preoccupations years before their symptoms emerged.
OK, so now I’m starting to get worried, because this basically describes not only my entire childhood and adolescence, but most of my 20s as well. (These days, I’m more likely to feel shrivellingly inferior to others).
I can only come to one of two conclusions: either a) scientists have yet to make a fine distinction between early-onset craziness and creativity, or b) I am at serious risk of going insane.
In other news, a hip underground record label wrote me back recently declining to release the new WP album. (I should stress here that I really, really appreciated the reply, as the overwhelming majority of labels – no matter how half-assed they are, and even those run by people I know personally – don’t even bother to dignify my entreaties with any kind of answer).
i listened to the album and it has alot of good hooks but it’s not the type of stuff that i’m releasing.
i’m into weirdo synth stuff and outsider rock.
So after a decade of being considered too weird and outsider, all of a sudden I’m not weird or outsider enough.
Sigh. It’s enough to drive a guy…. oh, never mind.