I read this post from Diana some time ago. It provides an excellent background on the Rosenhan experiment that looked at "being sane in insane places" … and showed how the relationships between subject and object are far more fluid than we would like to believe. (One of the things I love about Diana’s blog and those of other clever planners, is that they expose the depth and breadth of their thought processes in bringing to light the new visions of old ideas.)
Diana’s post reminded me of a time in my life many years ago. I was fascinated by Romantic poetry and just happened to have a relationship crisis (isn’t it always the way?) that tipped me over the edge. I didn’t sleep for four days, wrote and read poetry incessantly and slowly but surely felt myself slipping into a form of madness. One night, suffering from exhaustion, I reached a point where I felt I could surrender — just simply stop fighting, and allow my mind to freewheel. For me, I could see there was a choice, but I wondered also how many other people had come to this point and not been able to hold back.
And one of the things that struck me was the seductiveness of this madness … and also its proximity. I had come to the brink of madness in only a matter of days!
The writings that I had accumulated in this time are powerful … and some of the best and most harrowing of any of my creative works. The journey had allowed me to tap into a very strong creative stream, but it also meant potential danger and sacrifice. Even now, writing this, I can feel my heart pounding … remembering the excitement and the fear. I think, in marketing, we call this "authenticity" … but very few of us are able to creatively take a "message" to this deep and scary place.
Ever since that time, I have maintained an interest in the crossing point of sanity and madness. And somehow, after reading Diana’s post, I found myself here at a site called "My Topsy Turvy Life" by Letha who works in a "medium secure forensic unit". The crossover in Letha’s life becomes palpable when her work comes home with her … and she has to change her shopping habits because a patient is released and moves into her neighbourhood. There are many interesting episodes … but I particularly love this post about a patient who knitted Letha a scarf using lots of interesting knots and colours especially selected for her.
And while we can poetically consider that the eyes are the gateways to the soul, simple acts of kindness for those less fortunate … or even simple acts of humanity, reach far deeper. It is one thing to look — but quite another to DO.