Am I Crazy?

crazy

Am I crazy? How about loony? Demented? Deranged? Loopy? Mad? Psycho? Whacko? Cuckoo? Nutjob? Are all of these okay? Are any of them okay? What about calling me mentally ill? Is that okay? It is with me.

Unlike many diagnosed with a mental illness I don’t mind being called mentally ill. Granted, many of the names used above have been used to hurt, shame, and lead to the stigma of being mentally ill. Many call them hurtful and I understand, but I believe that one of the ways to end the stigma is to take ownership of these words so that they cannot be used against us. They lose their power.

The “N” Word

During the 1970’s, the term we now refer to as the “N” word was used frequently in movies and television. The word was used throughout Mel Brooke’s movie Blazing Saddles. Although the point of the movie was the absurdity of racism, it’s very unlikely that movie would be filmed today.

The word was used in 1971 on All in the Family, however, it may be surprising that it was never used by Archie Bunker. Sammy Davis Jr. appeared as himself and used the word on the show. The most successful All in the Family spin-off was the Jefferson’s. Many do not remember that George Jefferson used the word on several shows.
On Sanford and son, Red Fox also used the word on several episodes,

The “N” word became somewhat safe for television comedy after these shows so long as a black person said it. It also helped that each of the characters who used the word regularly was a buffoon. Sammy Davis Jr. is an exception
By the 1980’s, for some reason, it no longer was acceptable to use the word. I am sad about this because it seems that the word was losing its edge. There were those who were outraged by its use, however, I personally am saddened that the word has fallen out of favor once again and it has regained its power. I hope this will change, again, in the not two distance future.

Fagbug

On the 11th Annual National Day of Silence, Erin Davies was victim to a hate crime in Albany, New York. Because of sporting a rainbow sticker on her VW Beetle, Erin’s car was vandalized, left with the words “fag” and “u r gay” placed on the driver’s side window and hood of her car. Despite initial shock and embarrassment, Erin decided to embrace what happened by leaving the graffiti on her car. She took her car, now known worldwide as the “fagbug,” on a 58-day trip around the United States and Canada. Along the way, Erin discovered other, more serious hate crimes, had people attempt to remove the graffiti, and experimented with having a male drive her car

This is an excellent example of what I’m talking about. Erin was attacked by the ugly word fag and turned it around and used It to empower her to travel the country (and the world) to make a difference
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Call me crazy

Those are two examples of how hurtful words were weakened because certain members of society refused to let them gain power. I believe much could would change if we embraced them. Sure, there’s some on the list that I don’t like. They would be mad, psycho, demented and deranged. Once again, I give those words their power. A word, in and of itself, is not harmful.

Am I crazy? You bet your ass I am. I do admit I’m the minority with this position so I’m anxious to hear from you. Is it important to allow the words to be used on a regular basis to loosen their strength? Or, are they so hurtful that we should avoid them at all costs?

  13 comments for “Am I Crazy?

  1. January 24, 2017 at 14:34

    I’m with you all the way.. i don’t like psycho, derranged or demented as they’re too strong, and to me hold only harsh negative connotations. But i regularly call myself crazy, loopy or loop de loop depending on my mood! As you say, it’s so important to do this and create more realistic pictures for people who are “sane..” I actually don’t like the term mentally ill.. because it’s too leading, and too much like doctor talk. A lot of the time i don’t feel “ill,” i feel like i am suffering a very specific set of experiences which are crucially personal to ME. I’m not going to use a phrase a doctor came up with to lump together a load of people who hsve had experiences that they don’t understand. I am very much about personal ownership and empowerment. Great post!

  2. May 9, 2014 at 20:38

    I hope it’s okay if I start by saying, you should probably be really careful in regards to how you evaluate the N-word in relation to other derogatory terminology. While some people of color are okay with it, others find it extremely appropriative, and though all marginalized groups have their word(s) of oppression, the n-word has become a signpost that’s “see, it’s like that” when really, the n-word holds a special place in the book of “horrific words and their horrific usages/origins”. Just something you might want to be mindful of, coming from my own past observations in more than one instance – some do find that appropriative, and find it extremely alienating and problematic when other groups try and say “calling us x is like using the n-word”. Best to avoid conflict/alienating people where you can, no?

    As far as “crazy” goes – personally it never bothered me (as a mentally ill person), but I understand why it bothers others. I think on these issues we need to be careful, language is powerful – “crazy” is a word to delegitimize something, and the mentally ill are (obviously) those who are, in the eyes of society, “crazy”. So there’s a subtle implication, that might not even be intended, every time the word is used that way – an implication that the mentally ill are illegitimate in our thoughts, views, and actions because we’re “unstable”. I don’t think people recognize the power of language and the implications of its uses, and consider myself guilty there as well.

    I’m not saying “we should NOT use it EVER”, I think it’s good you brought it up – there needs to be more talking about it. It’s become so embedded in the cultural lexicon that to question “crazy” seems… “crazy” to people (ironically). The more I’ve heard people have had an issue with it I personally try not to use it just because it’s not hard not to and then I avoid offending people with virtually no effort, and I think feeding into the implication of what “crazy” is and means is iffy territory. Like I said, I don’t think people give the power of language credit. What we say is more than just words and their immediate, direct meaning.

    I will claim, however, that under no circumstances outside of referencing the use of the word itself are “crazy” etc socially acceptable for those without mental illness or neurological disorders to use (wouldn’t offend me personally, but I know it would others, so that’s enough reason to make it just an uncouth thing to do). Some people freak out about “language policing” which is hyperbolic at best, I think it’s just common decency and takes virtually no effort to NOT use those words on the part of those individuals.

    Anyways… I ramble. Just my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.

    • Bradley
      May 9, 2014 at 22:26

      I always hope to spark some discussion and it looks like I succeeded, Cory. Don’t worry, I don’t toss the “N” word around. My husband, who happens to be black, wouldn’t be very thrilled. We’ve had this discussion and gets where I’m coming from,

      As for the “C” word. I know there are many who it makes uncomfortable, or worse, so I try to refrain from using it unless I’m with other crazy people who don’t mind the word either. As for renaming my cartoons, I probably will change it, but not sure to what,

      I do wish these words didn’t have so much power over us, but I’m not sure how we can make that change. I know I’m not going to go on a one man crusade to make it happen. LOL

  3. April 8, 2014 at 20:22

    This is a great article, Bradley. There is a big schism amongst mentally ill people about what “term” they would prefer to be used. I don’t mind being called mentally ill, and, depending who says it, crazy. I do object to some of the others you’ve mentioned, but I think a lot of people would. I think we (people with a mental illness) need to just let our own particular world know what is and isn’t appropriate.

    • Bradley
      April 8, 2014 at 22:21

      I think we (people with a mental illness) need to just let our own particular world know what is and isn’t appropriate

      Exactly!

  4. April 8, 2014 at 13:19

    I call myself crazy a lot, and I wear it as a badge of honour. I believe if you get called crazy, people are scared of the strength you’ve had to work through all the difficulties you’ve had- it’s fear of the unknown and jealousy, nothing more.

    • Bradley
      April 8, 2014 at 13:37

      Crazy is the most common term I use. For awhile I wrote a series of cartoons for this blog and I named it Crazy Talk. I plan to revive it soon and am debating on coming up with a new name or leave it as is. While the word “crazy” doesn’t bother me, there’s a part of me that thinks I should change it so I don’t hurt anyone.

      • April 8, 2014 at 15:37

        Keep writing! I believe we can turn the word crazy around. x

        • Bradley
          April 8, 2014 at 16:10

          🙂 I believe we can

  5. kat
    April 8, 2014 at 13:07

    wow. i myself have given this same discussion with my friends and family and providers too. no one seems to understand it tho. i have had this discussion about the N word, the word ‘colored’ etc. words in and of themselves have no connotation–they are simply a word with a meaning. N for Negro, is descriptive, and made sense at the time, since ‘negro’ itself means black (as does noir in french, or negre in spanish) So, it was simply a word that described the particular persons being referenced. the connotation it later gained was used as a pejorative, in order to mark said persons as being ‘less than’ whites in almost any way–less human, less civilized, less clean, less smart, less capable. but the word itself means none of these. the word itself simply means ‘black’. it is the culture and the people in it that imbued the word with these these meanings, these connotations. so it is truly the culture that has made these words pejoratives, and this goes for every pejorative. a word does not carry class and status and hateful meanings–but a word that has been made into a pejorative does. and that directly reflects the dominant cultures views during that period. people hate, not words. and yes, using these words as meant, can help take back the connotations with which they have been imbued.

    • Bradley
      April 8, 2014 at 13:41

      Great reply, kat. Of course I say that because mostly you seem to agree with me. LOL. As I responded to quiall comments. It’s not necessarily the words that are used, but how they are used.

  6. April 8, 2014 at 09:29

    I don’t have an issue with words but the speaker of the words. I often use the word ‘cripple’ for the horror it provokes in others. I have a disability I am not disabled and I am not a cripple. Some able-bodied people are. It is attitude that cripples people not their abilities. Great post!

    • Bradley
      April 8, 2014 at 12:08

      Good point. Sometimes its not just who says it, but how they say it.

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