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Where IS My Sanity…

May 19, 2010

and WHAT is sanity???? I often crack jokes about sanity. It is my way of trying to keep a hard life somewhat lighter.

I will sometimes ask if anyone knows where my sanity is because it ran away! Usually, someone will respond with the fact that, if I find mine, I might find theirs, too. Then we both laugh and agree that, if we find our sanity, we will send the other one’s home. Or we joke that they are probably out partying together or something.

When the subject comes up of going crazy…or losing sanity…I comment that I cannot lose what I have already lost. Or, that I cannot lose what I never had.  And then I laugh.

Sanity…that fleeting thing that I think all of us want, but also that an awful lot of us question whether we actually have it. Or question if we ever did considering that our abuses often started at such a young age…even in infancy.

What is sanity? I have heard what it is not. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  (Albert Einstein?) So…what is sanity? Is it changing what I do in order to make changes in my life? I can see where that might be part of it…but, somehow, I think there is more to it than just that.

Is it being able to hold a coherent conversation? Oh, boy. If that is a criteria, then I am definitely not very sane some of the time. But then…perhaps it depends upon WHY I am not holding a coherent conversation…doesn’t it? I don’t know.

Does it mean handling what life throws at me without crumbling? Does it mean not “losing it” inside? Does it mean that I continue to function…no matter how much I am shaking? Does it mean not having a foggy mind? Yet…all of those things can result from PTSD being triggered. Is a PTSD episode a temporary loss of sanity? Hmmm.

BrainyQuote.com defines it thusly: The condition or quality of being sane; soundness of health of body or mind, especially of the mind; saneness.

Sane is defined thusly: Being in a healthy condition; not deranged; acting rationally; — said of the mind.

Mentally sound; possessing a rational mind; having the mental faculties in such condition as to be able to anticipate and judge of the effect of one’s actions in an ordinary manner; — said of persons.

There is quite a bit there to consider. “A rational mind”. “to be able to anticipate and judge the effect of one’s actions in an ordinary manner.” When I am triggered…I would not say I am “rational”. I am experiencing something from the past. I am “rational” in the past…while living in the present. That makes is very difficult to “anticipate and judge” in the moment.

I would love to hear others’ thoughts on “sane” and “sanity”. What do they mean to you? Is it even possible to be “sane”? Or to be sane all the time? Perhaps it is something we move in and out of?

I think part of being sane is being able to roll with life and recover when it hits you. To be able to live in reality and not in a make believe world. I don’t know.

What do you all think? I will finish with some quotes I found on sanity.

When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane.  Hermann Hesse

Part of being sane is being a little bit crazy.  Janet Long

A neurosis is a secret you don’t know you are keeping.  Kenneth Tynan

It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.  David Brin

All I kin say is when you finds yo’self wanderin’ in a peach orchard, ya don’t go lookin’ for rutabagas.  Kingfish

Hitherto the plans of the educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted, and indeed we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.  C. S. Lewis

I am beginning to realize that “sanity” is no longer a value or an end in itself. If modern people were a little less sane, a little more doubtful, a little more aware of their absurdities and contradictions, perhaps there might be the possibility of their survival.  Thomas Merton

Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.  Mark Twain

No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on the proper occasions.  Henry Ward Beecher

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked.  Oliver Wendell Holmes

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13 comments

  1. Sanity is a highly overrate myth, in my opinion. :)


    • LOL You are probably right, Meredith!


  2. You are sane, by the way… Very.


    • LOL That is very kind of you to say. I think if there is a continuum…like there is for dissociation…I am probably sliding around in the middle somewhere. I would like to think I am leaning a whole lot closer to the sane end than the other end.

      I am probably quite sane. I remember being told growing up that if a person thinks they may be insane…then they really are sane. For an insane person would not even think about it. That gave me a lot of hope when I heard that. Although…I think it might have been my mother who told me that? Scary!


  3. I worked in a place at one time where I joked that even with dissociation and ptsd, I was definitely the most sane person who worked there. I love that Kingfish quote.


  4. It does seem ridiculous to try to define sane. I’m pretty sure nobody is really “sane” all the time…


    • Methinks you are probably correct. I think “sanity” is relative. I think it depends a lot on who you are, what you have been through and what circumstances you are in currently.


  5. Yes! Because so many of the things people consider “insane” are perfectly logical responses to the situation.


    • Exactly!!! What may seem to be an insane behaviour may, in actuality, be a very sane response. I think of PTSD and how a person can start reacting to something that someone else would not. But there are very real (and sane) reasons for that reaction.


  6. I think sanity and insanity live on a continual spectrum. And depending on the circumstance the best place to be along that spectrum differs. While at work, I need to be a rational person, capable of holding a conversation, capable of focusing on the task at hand and despite any horrible circumstance, being able to keep it together. (I can’t go crazy at work, I need tha paycheck. :) )

    But then when I think about my life as an artist, sometimes its better to be off center towards the insanity. To let my mind wander and my imagination go a little crazy. Sometimes logic kills my art.

    Maybe being aware of your various degrees is what’s important moreso than staying at any one particular spot on the spectrum.


    • Hmmm…that makes a lot of sense, Sheena. I, too, tend to think that “sanity” and “insanity” are not static things. Rather…they are movable…depending upon the situation and what is going on inside of me.


  7. I believe you must first BEGIN to experience a breakdown or meltdown to even have any knowledge of sanity or insanity. Now what it is or isn’t is only a question that will only define the meaning. In my experience with sanity it is only the given few who are lucky enough to experience a perfect positive atmosphere at a continuous level which may even with all that could be unfortunately dampered with a chemical breakdown in the brain such as any mental disabilities which does not always mean you are insane but just a little bit weak in an area another is stronger in. I am not sane I am not insane but I am living in a negative environment in a constant battle to keep my bubble from getting popped only to inflate it again and again. I think that is what causes insanity the repeated times you are tested to refill that bubble of sanity. A person normally is very strong but when the strenghth is tested one to many times that begins mental breakdown, now depending on how strong that person was to begin with is going to depend on how many pops they will take before insanity shows itself, it is very cunning and may be quietly growing in you because you are to busy living in a hustle bustle life not slowing down enough to smell a rose so because you are able to hold it together is the best way to get through life or is it? I believe it is only a pop away only masking the weak to be weaker(negative) but strengthening the strong to be stronger(positive) the weak must admit a problem is brewing and the strong must identify that its a challenge to face. To pretend to be strong is insane but to see a problem as a challenge is sane! Identify the real you because it is important to keep a healthy mind frame. To be insane beyond repair is a cancer in the brain. Never use meds for temporary insanity which is also just alot of bad situations at the same time not any one person no matter how strong can handle! Don’t fool yourself to fool the ones around you or to please your pride into believing you are stronger then any one else thats just stupid! Thats just making a time bomb ready to explode! Is whyalot of why the rich and famous are medicating themselves with mind altering drugs because their reputation(pride) gets the best of there once sane mind is now insane Take you and your loved ones out of bad situations drama free and calm your life today tomorrow and forever money work and too serious is no good laugh and live love and give or you will go insane period! That is insanity and sanity in my words! Thank you for your interesting blog site!! Leann


    • Good thoughts, Leann! I appreciate your taking the time to share them with us. I definitely relate to the idea of the number of stresses being very significant. The imagery of a bubble getting popped and having to be inflated is a good one. I like that. I tend to think of the bubble as shrinking and expanding according to what (and how much) is going on in my life at any given moment. You are so right on when it comes to needing to recognize that there is a problem. I find that, if I try to ignore a problem or pretend it is not there, I am asking for trouble. Things will build up inside until I am finally forced to deal with them.



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