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Staying Sane in the Land of Lunatics

• Donald Jeffries Substack

When I was a young rebellious lad, I discovered the works of Dr. Thomas Szasz. I devoured his books The Manufacture of Madness and The Myth of Mental Illness. While working at the hospital, I would quote from them to the more interesting patients on the psych ward. This usually just happened to be the more attractive female patients.

As Dr. Szasz noted, any of us can look "crazy" under a microscope. If you're early for an appointment, the psychiatrist will label you "anxious." If you're on time, you're too "anal." If you're late, you're "rebellious." I've met people whom I considered perfectly normal, but when they told me they'd spent time in a mental hospital, I instantly looked at them differently. It's like being accused of child abuse. You may be perfectly innocent, but the allegation will always hang over your head. Once you've been labeled "mentally ill," it's hard to "prove" you're not. Try to act "sane." It isn't easy. And, of course, as "conspiracy theorists," all of us in the alternative media world are easily dismissed as "wackos."

I firmly believed that mental institutions, like prisons, served no practical purpose. Just as prisons didn't seem to rehabilitate anyone, mental hospitals seemed to serve only to drug and pacify people that society labeled too eccentric or unusual. I loved One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and many people I worked with said that I reminded them of Jack Nicholson's character Randall McMurphy. I did have a penchant for trying to communicate with the odd and scorned, whom others had abandoned.

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