commentary by Patrick H. Moore

I received an email from a close friend the other day in which he tries to make sense out of the human condition, his personal problems, and more importantly, the state of every man/woman as we fight and flail our way through this peculiar world. A bit bleak? Hell, yeah. But there’s nothing wrong with a little bleakness if that’s what it takes to be rigorously honest. In any event, let’s take a look at my friend’s comments, after which I will comment on his/her comments. Here is the text:

craa3As far as being f_____ up in the head, well, isn’t that so for just about everybody? When I look around, I don’t see a whole lot of happy, sane, productive, successful people. Most everybody has issues. I know what mine are. Dude, I’m in the mental health club. It’s not that big of a deal. Not like starving in a third world country, or eating garbage after somebody’s already beat you to the can.

But there are levels (I know, this is totally unscientific): 

– Sane, happy, successful people

– Mildly neurotic, troubled people

– People who are f______ up in the head

– Mentally ill people

– Stark raving mad people

– Criminally insane

Most addicts and alcoholics are in the third category. A lot of people pretend to be in the first category.The truly outlandish characters somehow manage to get in all six categories in their lives!

Ain’t life grand…

*     *     *     *     *

So, let’s go straight to the levels:

craa2Sane, happy, successful people — They do exist. My boss is one. He is sane, happy and moderately successful despite dealing with immeasurable human misery on a daily basis for the last 30 years. This is no mean feat. Of course him being so damned happy drives me crazy half the time. I want to shake him and say, “J____, what the hell are you so damned happy about. Don’t you realize it pisses people off?” The boss is  not only happy; he’s totally sane. It’s weird. We often discuss him and ask, “Where did he get his strange self?” Yet somehow he did. Perhaps he was the one child who actually was actually brought here by the Stork. :-)


Mildly neurotic, troubled people — Ah, I know this category like the back of my hand except I’m more than mildly neurotic. I would say my general level of neurosis fluctuates but it generally could described as moderate, which means I’m worried more than I should be much of the time. It’s called over-reacting to stimuli and it’s no fun. I’m sure you all know many people who fall into this category. You may fall into it yourself. But than again, you may be like my boss bubbling with good cheer 95 per cent of the time.


craa4People who are f_____ up in the head — These are the unfortunate souls who suffer from major neuroses. These beleaguered souls don’t just over-react to problems — they over-react dramatically. A lot of the time they over-react dramatically to problems that don’t even exist except in their agonized minds. Plus, these are the folks who are constantly projecting, taking out their anger and frustration on innocent parties. It’s small wonder that these folks often turn to drugs and alcohol.

For the sake of accuracy, I would say that I combine the attributes of Category II (Mildly neurotic, troubled people) with the attributes of Category III (People who are f_____ up in the head). As long as I “keep a grip” and dwell in Category II, I do more or less all right. But when I fall into Category III, it is not a pretty sight.


Mentally ill people — Now we arrive at the real tragedy of the human condition — those unlucky folks who because of some unfortunate combination of nature and nurture wind up joining the ranks of the mentally ill. Naturally, a fair percentage of criminals fall into this group. One of the things I’ve learned working in criminal defense for so many years is that many “criminals”, and other folks for that matter, have what the shrinks refer to as psychotic pockets, i.e., they may be reasonably sane most of the time but have a tendency when the going get rough to veer into a temporary psychotic state in which god only knows what they might think, do or be capable of. Scary stuff…


craa9Stark raving mad people — Most of us have dealt with these folks. Some of them are homeless. They’re the unfortunate souls whom you observe raving manically to no one in particular as they thrash down the mean streets of your local skid row. But by no means are all stark raving mad people folks homeless. Many of us have relatives or close family members who fall into this category. Modern psychotropic medications can do wonders to keep these folks from going completely off-kilter as long as they make and keep the commitment to take their medication. Side effects be damned…


craa8Criminally insane — These are the folks who dwell deep in the abyss of rape, murder and madness. Although, oddly enough, Jeffrey Dahmer could carry on a rational conversation, there is little doubt that he falls into this category. Adam Lanza was criminally insane. Hannibal Lector was criminally insane. If you ever feel like counting your blessings, don’t hesitate to thank the powers that be that you do not fall into this category.

craa10My friend states: The truly outlandish characters somehow manage to get in all six categories in their lives! Although the mind recoils from accepting this, it is a fact that many folks who go on to develop major mental illness did not display symptoms until they reached adolescence or thereabouts. There are few tragedies greater than watching your sibling or child — who formerly seemed “normal” enough — go slowly but surely off the rails until it seems implausible that he or she was “normal” just a few years ago. The tragedy, of course, is compounded immensely when major mental illness either goes untreated, or the treatments are ineffective and — god forbid — your loved one joins the ranks of the criminally insane.

These families have it extremely tough and in our compassionate moments, we should say a prayer for them.



6 Responses to Digging Deeper: From “Sane and Happy” to “Criminally Insane”?

  1. Rick says:

    This is an excellent post, Patrick! However, I disagree with your self-assessment that you fall into Category III. From what I know of you, I believe that you are firmly entrenched in Category II, at the worst.

  2. BJW Nashe says:

    This “close friend” of yours sounds a bit sketchy. Be careful about who you associate with these days. There are a lot of psychos and addicts out there. I do love the picture of Queequeg, though. Dude is seriously inked up.

  3. Darcia Helle says:

    I’m not sure where I fall in here. I’m not neurotic, nor am I particularly happy or sane. My natural state of being lies somewhere around ‘neutral’, with short spurts of questionable sanity. Then again, maybe I am firmly entrenched in category III. :)

  4. Ergon says:

    Just, whatever your problem, do not medicate! Know of too many good people who choose that route, trusted the psychiatrists, got worse.

    Someone to talk to, someone to listen…

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