Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Who would you call a mad person?
Who would you consider mad enough to be put in the mental hospital?
And who the hell gave you the right to do that anyway?

I know of this lady from Trivandrum (Kerala, India, for the uninitiated) whose in-laws drugged her and put her in a mental institution for months on end cos the lady had asked for a divorce. They preferred to have their daughter-in-law in a mental institution rather than suffer the disgrace of having a divorce in the family. She escaped and wrote a book about it too.
It actually happened!
When I read it, I was horrified. Imagine being put in an institution where no one believes you. Cos everyone thinks you are mad!

I recently read in the paper ( I tried looking for a link to the story, couldn’t find one) about this man who had locked up his daughter in a room for 25 years. He says she is mad. And the police say she isn’t mad!
Twenty five freakin years!!

There is a very thin line between the sane and the insane.
How can you decide who really is insane?
Who is telling the truth? Who is lying?
It’s a scary thing, feeling that you are SO right about something, and everyone else will condemn you for it, or call you crazy.

There’s a movie in Malayalam, it’s called Thaniyavarthanam. It’s a heart-breaking story about a sane man ( I’m not using the word perfectly sane, cos I don’t think anyone is) is considered mad for no reason other than the deep-rooted belief among their family that one male from each generation will become mad cos the hero’s uncle became a mental patient after being separated from his lover!

Now who's crazy there??

But there is flip side too. Some mad people seem sane. They’re smart as hell, so they can hide it. Which is scary.
This incident shocked UAE and has been in the papers for quite awhile now. The man slits his wife’s throat (ok, that happens), then all of his kids’ throats one-by-one (heartless brute) and then his own!!?? Ok, he’s gotta be nuts. No one in their right mind would do that right? So he was a nutter right? But he had all his friends and colleagues fooled right? They might have thought him to be suicidal and depressed, but I’m sure they didn’t think he was dangerous. If they did, they would have complained. For their own safety.
But how do you get to that point?

How do you know?


silverine said...

This is a really good piece Sonia, you should be a reporter. Are you?
I have seen Thaniyavarthanam, you are right it is heartbreaking. Nowadays Mental Institutions have become aware of the tendency of people trying to lock up relatives in the guise of mental illness. Thank God!!!

I read the news of that man who killed his whole family. How could a father do this his own children??? I just cannot reason this out.

zombie said...

Babes I agree with ya, there IS really a very thin line between sanity and insanity...and fr diff ppl sanity implies diff things.

Sometimes I go crazy when I see anyone behaving irrationally and a majority of others supporting them jes coz its convenient to do so or coz they dont wanna be the one to stand up. And then it leads me to wonder if I am the only sane person in this crowd and hence considered insane by others jes coz I refuse to be a party to more nonsense?

Rahul said...

i followed your link to taniyaavarthanam review and and spent an hour on that page reading all kinds of stuff and watching clips. the new cbi movie seems good, but how do i get it here ;-(
About your concern, i dont know if it is even right to lock up insane people. Such an action means that they are shut out from the world, which belongs to them too, because we have a problem with the way they are. Something like the so called logic behind the death penalty... Maybe we should just send them to a correction centre and try to help them...

Keshi said...

Brilliant post Sonnz!

How do we know if someone's insane? Well we will never know the sanely insane. Most of the time quite sane people commit horrible crimes based on impact of one single moment. We can't really define them as insane. Also what's insane to me might not be insane to u. It's very subjective.

Insanity sometimes need to be restored to be sane...


Lost in trance... said...

How abt an obligue angle? Some lateral thinking anyone??

"Sanity is madness put to good use."

how dyu like it? depressing? interesting? totally whackko?

methinks theres some level of insanity in allfus.

Sonia said...

silverine: Thanx a lot!! no i'm not a reporter. i wish with all my heart that i was though!
about the man killing his family- i dunno... i really don't.

zombie: *hugs* i know what you mean! :o) take care yar!

rahul: you do get mallu movies there. remember those friends of mine who are in NJ now? they watch them all the time! you just gotta find out where. I'll check with them if you want! :o)

about you feeling that it's not right to lock up insane people, what else do we do? what do we do with a person who is dangerous to others? i'm not saying that all insane people need to be locked up, but i feel if they are a danger to the rest of them, then yes, they shud be. but the problem which i was talking about is, HOW do we know who is dangerous and who is not? and then there are criminally dangerous but not necessarily insane. don't get me started!

keshi: every one is a little insane of course! or really really insane, but with a lot of money. look at micheal jackson!

lost in trance: that's a good one. sanity is madness put to good use! :o) i like it! and i agree with the fact that everyone does have a bit od insanity. The problem is when there is aa lot more than a just a bit.

Keshi said...

yes :) but I suppose MJ is an extreme case...insanity and mentally-challenged are really 2 different things..


Rahul said...

yeah do check!!! and no way, i really dont wanna get yopu started ;-)

n.g. said...

'we're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy'. - seal.

Kahini said...

Brilliant piece, Sonia.

V said...

Great. Read Veronika Decides to Die.

Joker said...

WOW!!!:-) me being nice here and not going to tease you either:-)

lazydad said...

There is a very thin line between the sane and the insane----

couldnt agree more..

Saltwater Blues said...

Mad; adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech, and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane.

Sonia said...

nish: yeah, in a crazy world, you just have to have your bit of madness to survive. as long as it doesn't hamper anyone else's survival.

Kahini: *beaming*

v: ok! thanx!

joker: why not? i kinda miss that! ;o)

lazydad: hmm, makes it tough to decide anything.

saltwater: it is pretty cruel. but what can be done? if there is a (wo)man who kills people for whatever reason (s)he believes in, wouldn'u u wanna stop him/her before (s)he got to you or your family?

KJ said...

I was stunned at the news of that man who killed his whole family even the small children. How could a father do this his own children???
I just cannot reason this out.

Anonymous said...

All people are sane and insane at the same time. If I ask you if you are insane, what would you answer? If you say you are not, then you are insane because insane people think they are not. But if you say that you are insane, then you must be really insane to admit you are.

Stress (and politics) clouds the mind and at times makes me real mad at work that on bad days, I step in my office and wonder 'who really runs this lunatic assylum anyway?!!'

Jithu said...

its a nice thought!

Sonia said...

anonymous: you can't really have a standard for figuring out who is sane ans insane, cos it's really very relative. and i know what you're talking about! i feel i work with a bunch of lunatics too!

Jithu: WHAT is a nice thought? elucidate please!

the wise old man said...

"What is madness? To have erroneous perceptions and to reason correctly from them."
"Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world."

Judging people just by their actions would, in a normal case, be absolute madness.

And then, does being madly in love count?