Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Just Because They're Crazy Doesn't Mean They're Stupid!

Crazy people are not stupid, just crazy.   They are more than capable of making elaborate plans and also more than capable of manipulating other people.  In fact, manipulating other people seems to be their forte.

I mention mental health in this blog a lot for a number of reasons.  First, I have been surrounded by crazy people for most of my life - friends, family, co-workers, and the like.  Particularly family.

Second, if your mental health is not sound, your financial health is not sound.  It goes without saying that if your perception of the world is skewed, you cannot make rational decisions.

Even mild mental illnesses or distortions of reality can affect your ability to see through the fog of life.  Many folks think they can latch on to "the next big thing!" and if they buy Facebook stock, they will end up super-rich down the road.

Like I said, a lot of people have a skewed perception of reality.

But beyond folks who buy into payday loans and "one trick of the tiny belly" and other ripoffs, are crazy people - folks with mild to wild mental illnesses.  These are often people who take advantage of others, as part and parcel of being crazy.

At first, you want to feel sorry for such people.   And you might - until they shoot up a movie theater or an elementary school - and kill dozens of people.   If you are smart (and not crazy) you might realize at that point that maybe "feeling sorry" for the mentally ill is not a good idea.

Why?   Well, mentally ill people are not stupid or retarded, even though many lay people tend to lump them all together.   Well, heck, even professionals used to, putting retarded people in the same mental hospitals as psychotics.   There is a huge difference.   Most retarded people are generally nice, friendly, and want to be self-sufficient.  Most are harmless as a fly.  They just suffer from brain damage.

The mentally ill, on the other hand, can be abusive, manipulative, violent, evil, and a drain on your emotions and finances.   They are not retarded and they know how to get what they want - whether it be attention, money, fame, or whatever.

And this is why I say that it is best to leave mental illness to professionals.   As a layperson, trying to help or "save" a mentally ill family member, friend, or acquaintance, is only going to land you in a whole lot of trouble - and likely not help the person at all, but make their situation worse.

As I have noted before, mentally ill people are usually narcissists of the first order.   They are incredibly sensitive to their own pains - physical and emotional - but rarely register the needs of others.   The rest of the world is wallpaper to them - a surrounding diorama that is merely two-dimensional and not real.  In extreme cases  - Sociopaths - the mentally ill can play "normal" people like a cheap violin, and get away with, well, murder, literally, at least for a time.   They can appear charming and convincing, when they want to, and take you to the cleaners.

The problem with the mental illness industry (and it is an industry) is that it caters to the narcissist in the mentally ill.   When someone exhibits odd behavior, they are given extra attention, and sent to a therapist, who wants to hear about their every emotion and feeling and life experience - all of which are made out to be more important than they really are, thus amplifying these emotions in the patient.

The mentally ill person now has a hobby.   And I have known several, who will regale you for hours about what their therapist said, what drugs were prescribed, and then read to you from their own copy of the Physician's Desk Reference about the drugs they are taking.   It really just creates a feedback circuit for mental illness, where bad behavior is rewarded and amplified, over and over again.  Getting "well" is no longer a goal, and in fact, receives negative feedback (less attention).

And the patient quickly realizes that they can get attention and special treatment if they play up certain behaviors.  They can skip school, get out of work, or live off family members (or ask for money and handouts) if they just behave in a certain way.   They can even scare other people with their "crazy" behavior - which in itself is a form of empowerment (Think about it, how many horror movies are premised on the "crazy" sociopath who is the villain.  We are conditioned to be "scared" of "crazy" behavior.  Myself, I find it annoying as snot).

So, why bother trying to "get well" when that involves effort and hard work (and getting a job) when they can just appear as a helpless victim and get swag in the process?

Again - and it is the title of this posting - the mentally ill aren't stupid.  They aren't helpless or incapable of taking care of themselves.  When you read about these psychotic killers, sociopath serial rapists, or mass-shooters, the thing that comes out in the end is that while their view of society and reality was warped, they were plenty smart enough to plan their crimes in great detail, obtain weapons, plan their attacks, attract victims, and even dispose of bodies (and avoid detection by the police, in some instance, and beat the rap).  They are not dumb!

Similarly, the more mildly mentally ill are not stupid when they hit up friends, family members, and our government for money.   They know they can get by on the largess of others, if they can act in a certain way, and play to your emotions and needs.   They know, for example, that you might want to feel like a big-shot, handing out money - altruism is always suspect.   They can play on your sympathy - or feelings of guilt.

So what's the point of all this?   Well, when a friend or family member hits you up for money on the grounds they are "depressed" and need cash to pay off their credit cards or cable television bill (or pay for their pot), don't fall for it.   Chances are, they don't need your help, but professional help.  And if you enable their lifestyle, are you really helping them.

It is tempting to play the bigshot, handing out money and trying to control others' lives.  And quite a few people in the USA do this - viewing their children, siblings, or even parents as "damaged goods" who "need help" when in fact, all they want is a free ride.

I related before the children who decided to "take car of Mom" (because she was "crazy") by paying her cable bill and paying for new tires for her car.  They found her an apartment and paid the rent.   They were chagrined later on, when Mom showed up with a brand-new car.   Turns out she didn't need as much "help" as they thought she did - and if she was crazy, she was crazy like a fox.

Others like to play the helpless victim - telling you stories of how they were exploited (emotionally or financially) by ex-spouses or "the system" or whatever, and asking for $500 (always that nice round amount) nearly every month.   But when you examine their finances in more detail, it turns out they are paying for stuff you might not be able to afford - smart phones, cable TV, expensive restaurant meals, and the like.

And yea, I've had this happen to me.   Someone once asked me to pay off their credit card bill, on the basis that I "had a lot of money" and was "lucky".    But when I looked into their finances, they had cable TV (which I did not have), an expensive internet service (which I did not have) and spent at least one or two days a week at a bar having $15 drinks (which I could not afford).   I was "lucky" in their eyes, and they were "unlucky."   But if you looked at it from a neutral point of view, they were living a larger lifestyle than I was.

Helping people is fine and all.   But make sure they really need your help, first, before trying to rescue others.   You may, in fact, cause more damage than good, particularly if you give all your money away to others - and there is no one there to "help" you, later on.