isn’t it amazing how fast we can spot an utter nutter on our streets or on public transport? within seconds of some looncake taking a seat opposite you, it is obvious that mentally their journey stops one stop short of where it ought. just in the merest glance you’ve read the imperceptible cues that lead you with a few moments scrutiny to confirm the nuttiness of the fruitcake.
I noticed this on friday on my way into college. I was on the street outside my building, there was a van stopped in the middle of the road, a man leaning on the bonnet. He then went round to the passenger door opened it and closed it again for no good reason. He looked fairly ordinary, white, early 30’s, wearing trainers, tracksuit trousers & a sweatshirt, but something was indefinably wrong with him. He then jogged off up the middle of the road, stopping every oncoming vehicle in a similar fashion. All the drivers were unnverved but none got angry. Very odd, I sped up to try to keep up with him and figure out what he was on, but because I didn’t want to get too close I never found out. He disappeared round the corner in further pursuit of his ellusive purpose, one more lost and bewildered soul in the city.
Travelling by bus & tube you become adept at this game and at avoiding their attentions, but this swift brainscanning is an in-built skill we all have; A sense of sense or nonsense, an insanity reflex, an onboard oddometer. Psychology may only have the vaguest idea of what madness is and only rarely can it cure it but we all know it when we see it… and we stay well away.
And this is another aspect of lunacy I hadn’t appreciated until I’d studied psychology. The effect that this universal adverse reaction must have on those marked with the unmistakable stigma of madness. It must be very difficult to be ‘normal’ when no-one treats you normally. The pressures of conformity are oppressive enough for the best of us, what a weight when you were somewhat weakened and fragile to begin with. How can you not be paranoid when people are staring at you? How can you not feel worthless when people sum you up in seconds and devalue you accordingly? It would drive me mad!
ironically, it has just taken me until two thirds of the way through this article to spot that Kelly Hollowell is unwell. :>