Schizophrenia.com

The Paradox of Insight

I am fond of paradoxes, and this one is very dear to me. To say ‘I have gone mad’ - which I have said to myself at times - may be said to be the event that marks insight and the end of delusion proper. There is something funny about this phrase though, something that is particular to its first person use. In the third person use, when said of someone else ‘he has gone mad’ - there is not much to it. People may disagree, closer examination may be needed, but the phrase itself is quite unproblematical. In the first person use, however, it gives rise to a paradox.

For suppose it is true: I have gone mad. Then to recognize this, is precisely what the truely mad cannot do. So suppose the phrase is true, the act of uttering it makes it false.

On the other hand, suppose the phrase is false. One is not mad, then the act of saying this about oneself (genuinely, of course) is very peculiar. Sane people do not declare themselves mad. Hence, if it is false and one genuinely says this it becomes true.

I find it somehow fitting, in some loose aesthetic sense or something, that a state of madness, which is characterized by paradox and contradiction, only ends by such a paradoxical event itself, or some variation of it ofcourse. When I first uttered this to myself, the feelings accompanying it were also strange and paradoxical. For I was at once very sad, and scared of what would happen. But I already grasped the paradoxical nature of it at the time, and took solace in seeing that its truth would imply its falsity. In this little phrase, so much was captured. I believe that if there is anything that could be said to be spiritual or rather mystical about psychosis, it is the event of this utterance. It is similar to a confession, and it marked a new life for me.

1 Like

Thank you for this! I really needed this perspective, seriously.

I started mumbling that to myself whenever I felt shame for my psychosis. Then I started feeling bad about it, why would I call myself that, stigmatizing myself and feeling sorry for myself at the same time. Then I started to do some self-compassion, thinking to myself like I would help a friend, feeling less crazy and more grounded, it helps a lot.

But this perspective is nice, I also like paradoxes.

1 Like

Insanity is a rather perplexing dichotomy. All in all I tend to either really abhor it or enjoy it. No middle ground there. :smile: