Mental Illness is a Reference Problem

Suppose you woke up in the morning and knew that the moon was made out of cheese! And, if that was not enough, suppose you knew that this was an important truth which you must passionately share with other people! Well, if that should happen, let me assure you that you would be correct, you would be one hundred per cent right…IN A UNIVERSE THAT IS HOPEFULLY VERY SMALL! And, hopefully that would be a universe of just one person!

Now, if that should happen, please hope that you have friends who will intervene and try to get you some help real soon, although you will be protesting that you need no help. The irony of a private world of reference is that the more private it is the less amenable is one to feedback from the outside. When your lunacy has run full circuit, you will arrived in Eden itself, completely free of any discomfort, stress, or strain. You will be free from that “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” that trouble Hamlet. Now, true your friends and acquaintances will be shocked and saddened at your situation but that will not be a concern of yours. You will be safe and secure.

My point here is an old bromide that I’ve found valuable, “Mental illness is a reference problem.” It is very dangerous to find yourself in a world where you have disdain for outside feedback and even try to arrange to not get this feedback. We must never lose our antennae and we must always listen to the feedback these antennae are picking up.

Re the collective version of this madness, W. H. Auden noted, “We have made for ourselves a life safer than we can bear.”



3 thoughts on “Mental Illness is a Reference Problem

    1. literary lew Post author

      Yes, I think it applies to all countries and to all of us. And the very nature of “knowledge” requires some tendency in this direction. Have so much more to say but duty calls today….bunches of little darling await my tender loving ministrations!



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