There used to be a time when being a little crazy was called having a personality. According to the American Psychiatric Association, this has become a problem and these “personalities” are in need of diagnosis and treatment. H/T to Maggies Farm for the link.
In 1981 in the small creole burg of Franklin Louisiana, a co-worker called a friend to come pick us up after a night of letting the good times roll at a local watering hole. After a bit, we were picked up by a fellow who went by the moniker of “Crip” Stevens. Mr. Stevens had in his younger days been employed as an oil field diver in the muddy offshore delta and had acquired his nick name due to an unfortunate bout of the bends, which had damaged some spinal nerves and rendered his gait decidedly asymmetric. Not one to let a little minor paralysis hamper his style, he arrived to provide our transport in a worn around the edges ’74 Lincoln Mk 4, riding alone in back with a couple of provincial hotties up front tending to the driving duties. The three of us piled in back, with Crip relocating to the front bench between his “chauffers”, and we arrived at his place out in the Cypress woods in due time. He lived in a big white elephant of a civil war era home in a beautiful state of faded glory, apparently inhereted from more genteel ancestors, and it was decorated not with the expected antiques but entirely and only with 1950’s and 60’s vintage carnival ride figures. Pig’s, hippo’s, elephants, auto’s, boats, spaceships…mermaid’s. You name it. The next morning he took us all on a ride in his air boat in the vast swampland surrounding the town, taking great humor in showing off the custom designed and built belt fed 12 gauge tri-pod bow mounted shotgun that he used to hunt not just duck but ducks at a time, and in telling tall tales of the many skirmishes in which he had engaged over the years with his best friend from childhood, the local game warden. Crazy? Absolutely. But not in a way that would do anyone any harm unless you were a duck. He was what used to be referred to as local color. A character.
I often wonder what became of “Crip” and others like him I have run into over the years who march to their own drummer in a one man parade. If the APA had their way he was probably diagnosed as having some sort of personality disorder as a plea bargain in a poaching case, entered into one of the myriad state treatment programs, and is probably living comfortably and docilely in a trailer somewhere, collecting his monthly disability check. When did we get to the point where every quirk and eccentricity that deviates from some shrinks view of what is normal begin to be viewed as a pathology, with therapy and/or drug treatment recommended to bring you back to the “fold ” so to speak.
There has been much talk during the recent debate on health-care regarding why getting the government involved in medicine will surely degrade the level of physical care that patients will be able to receive, but not much has been said about the sure to follow bureaucratic interference in mental care. Once the government is given the power to determine the disease and the cure regarding the state of our mental health, we will be entering a brave new world indeed. When the state becomes responsible for its citizens mental health, the “cure” will be to enforce “correct” behavior. It will then merely be bureaucratic consensus that determines whom among us is diseased.
Who’s crazy? You tell me.