Sociology Of Mental Illness

insane immigrants

Recently, the Party Planning Committee at Chumley Fortesque Memorial Community College invited me to deliver my bread and butter lecture, “Why You So Messed Up, Man?” I accepted.

A bright-eyed assemblage of students still clutching desperately onto the concept of upward mobility, and several inebriated janitors ducking responsibilities, filled the dingy lunchroom, which had been hastily rearranged to serve as an auditorium. I gave it my best.

When I was through, an eager audience member asked the now-familiar question which seems to hound me wherever I go, as if I had just escaped from Leavenworth.

“Mr. McHarg,” he ventured, “why are there so many mentally ill people in the United States? Where do they come from?”

By now, I am accustomed to this question, although still appalled by what its mere existence says about our educational system. And so, in measured tones masking my impatience and disappointment, I began what has become the canned response.

“America,” I gazed beyond the tops of my reading glasses for effect, fairly oozing disingenuous gravitas, “is a nation built on immigration. We are all familiar with how, fleeing starvation brought about by the potato famine, destitute Irish families landed on our rugged shores in search of work.

“Our forefathers themselves fled religious persecution and sarcastic remarks. Soon the Italians arrived because it became obvious that there needed to be a pizza parlor on every corner; the fledgling nation was being unified by a love of freedom, ambition, and a hearty appetite for pepperoni.

“Then came the great Whackadoomian Emigration of double-ought, where mentally ill individuals throughout the world packed their meager belongings into imaginary suitcases and swam toward Lady Liberty’s beacon – treading water during the day when the beacon was unlit. In America they hoped to find the chance to be unhinged in a way that was marketable, which led ultimately to reality TV. Quietly, in small communities throughout the land, they built pockets of whackadoomiousness, and flourished.

From Knothead, Maine to Improbability, Tennessee, and Not All There, Wyoming, mentally ill Americans worked, fell in love, formed families, prospered and polished up the hood ornament on the American dream just like the rest of us. Today, they are in our midst, virtually everywhere, woven deep within the warp and woof of the American flag; indeed, as you watch the stars and stripes wave you can almost hear the sound of barking.

The Great Creativity Quote Quiz

Robert Frost

Can You Accurately Attribute These Pearls Of Wisdom?

  1. “Poetry is far too important to be left to the sane.”
    a.) Heavy D
    b.) Morbidly Obese D
    c.) Physically Fit D
    d.) Taz Mopula
  2. “Mediocre art misrepresents reality; great art obliterates it.”
    a.) Martha Stewart
    b.) Norman Rockwell
    c.) Stacy London
    d.) Taz Mopula
  3. “If you need mania to be creative, then maybe creativity isn’t for you.”
    a.) Lord Byron
    b.) Ernest Hemingway
    c.) Hunter Thompson
    d.) Taz Mopula
  4. “Without life, poetry itself would be meaningless.”
    a.) Charles Bukowski
    b.) Tom Waits
    c.) Robert Allen Zimmerman
    d.) Taz Mopula
  5. “No artist, however prodigious his talents, can create a great audience.”
    a.) P.T. Barnum
    b.) Cecil B. DeMille
    c.) Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
    d.) Taz Mopula
  6. “Great soldiers are brave; great poets are reckless.”
    a.) General George S. Patton
    b.) Audie Murphy
    c.) Hannibal
    d.) Taz Mopula
  7. “Writing great poetry becomes much easier when you’re willing to die for it.”
    a.) Dylan Thomas
    b.) Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade
    c.) John Denver
    d.) Taz Mopula
  8. “The audience is never wrong; that said, one does occasionally wander into the wrong theater.”
    a.) Abraham Lincoln
    b.) Ronald Reagan
    c.) Gerald Ford
    d.) Taz Mopula
  9. “Art is the shortest distance between two points, when one of the points has no known, or knowable, location.”
    a.) Albert Einstein
    b.) Stephen Hawking
    c.) Carl Sagan
    d.) Taz Mopula
  10. “Even the greatest paintings are flat; they only become three-dimensional in the eyes of those who behold them.”
    a.) Clarence Fountain
    b.) Art Tatum
    c.) Stevie Wonder
    d.) Taz Mopula

The Great Epigram Quiz

epigram taz

The use and abuse of quotes, aphorisms, and bromides has grown to epidemic proportions; today the Internet is awash in frequently misattributed, pithy sentiments. Who really said the following?

1.“Why pay to exercise in a gym when you can enjoy an exercise in futility for free whenever you like?”
a.) Cicero
b.) Snooki
c.) Sisyphus
d.) Taz Mopula

2. “You have the right to remain silent, and listen. Might be advisable to exercise it before they take that one away, too.”
a.) Marcel Marceau
b.) Lao Tzu
c.) Boxcar Willie
d.) Taz Mopula

3. “Don’t honk if you love auditory hallucinations.”
a.) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
b.) Sylvia Plath
c.) His Holiness the Dalai Lama
d.) Taz Mopula

4. “Laughter is the best medicine; except when it comes to poisonous snakebites, then it’s the second-best medicine.”
a.) Albert Schweitzer
b.) Baron Rochefoucauld
c.) Kim Kardashian
d.) Taz Mopula

5. “The real tragedy of political correctness is that it has given lying a bad name.”
a.) Pliny The Elder
b.) Pliny The Younger
c.) Regular Pliny
d.) Taz Mopula

6. “Think twice before burning bridges; you never know when you might want to jump off one of them.”
a.) Zig Zigler
b.) Pema Chödrön
c.) Reverend Ike
d.) Taz Mopula

7. “Looking for self-worth in someone else’s eyes is like trying to breathe with someone else’s lungs.”
a.) Maya Angelou
b.) Charlie Sheen
c.) Gertrude Stein
d.) Taz Mopula

8. “It’s not that I don’t love you, I do love you; I just don’t love you enough to lie to you.”
a.) Dante
b.) Paris Hilton
c.) Shakespeare
d.) Taz Mopula

9. “Should you meet someone who claims that visualizing a thing makes it so; tell them to visualize being flattened by a bus.”
a.) Tom Waits
b.) James Dean
c.) Hunter Thompson
d.) Taz Mopula

10. “Life is good! Death is poopy!”
a.) Dr. Wayne Dyer
b.) Oprah Winfrey
c.) Tony Robbins
d.) Taz Mopula

11. “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time; but why would you even try when they’re so eager to do the job for you?”
a.) Abraham Lincoln
b.) Will Rogers
c.) Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
d.) Taz Mopula

12. “Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?”
a.) Albert Camus
b.) Søren Kierkegaard
c.) Jean Paul Sartre
d.) Taz Mopula

13. “Ultimately it’s not what you don’t say that matters most so much as how you don’t say it.”
a.) Harpo Marx
b.) Tomás de Torquemada
c.) Oscar Wilde
d.) Taz Mopula

14. “Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.”
a.) Pogo
b.) Socrates
c.) Ozzy Osbourne
d.) Taz Mopula

15. “The best things in life aren’t free, the worst things in life aren’t free, and the cost of mediocrity is hidden.”
a.) John Lennon
b.) Jack Lemmon
c.) Blind Lemon Jefferson
d.) Taz Mopula

16. “Dying is easy, they say, but comedy is hard. So cheer up. Even if you fail at comedy you’re almost certain to die successfully.”
a.) Andrew “Dice” Clay
b.) Sam Kinison
c.) Carrot Top
d.) Taz Mopula

17. “American liberals, celebrated for their tolerance, stalwartly defend the right of wretched refuse to agree with them.”
a.) Noam Chomsky
b.) Pete Seeger
c.) Christopher Hitchens
d.) Taz Mopula

18. “Political Correctness: An experiment in social engineering which holds that renaming dung mousse au chocolat makes it edible.”
a.) Reverend Al Sharpton
b.) Julia Child
c.) Che Guevara
d.) Taz Mopula

19. “If technology makes our lives any more convenient, even breathing will become too much of an effort.”
a.) Steven Jobs
b.) Bill Gates
c.) Larry Page
d.) Taz Mopula

20. “Artificial intelligence will soon be the only kind remaining; thus conclusively proving the failure of human intelligence.”
a.) Isaac Asimov
b.) Ray Bradbury
c.) Michel de Nostredame
d.) Taz Mopula

The Great Art Quote Quiz

Thomas Kinkade meets Godzilla

Match The Pithy Quote With Who Really Said It

1. “Poetry is far too important to be left to the sane.”
a.) Rod McKuen
b.) Richard Bach
c.) Erich Segal
d.) Taz Mopula

2. “Mediocre art misrepresents reality; great art obliterates it.”
a.) Grandma Moses
b.) Norman Rockwell
c.) Andrew Wyeth
d.) Taz Mopula

3. “If you need mania to be creative, then maybe creativity isn’t for you.”
a.) Lord Byron
b.) Ernest Hemingway
c.) Terry Gilliam
d.) Taz Mopula

4. “Without life, poetry itself would be meaningless.”
a.) Nipsey Russell
b.) Mark Russell
c.) Tom Lehrer
d.) Taz Mopula

5. “No artist, however prodigious his talents, can create a great audience.”
a.) P.T. Barnum
b.) Cecil B. DeMille
c.) Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
d.) Taz Mopula

6. “Great soldiers are brave; great poets are reckless.”
a.) General George S. Patton
b.) Audie Murphy
c.) Hannibal
d.) Taz Mopula

7. “Writing great poetry becomes much easier when you’re willing to die for it.”
a.) Dylan Thomas
b.) Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade
c.) Wayland Flowers & Madame
d.) Taz Mopula

8. “The audience is never wrong; that said, one does occasionally wander into the wrong theater.”
a.) Abraham Lincoln
b.) Ronald Reagan
c.) Gerald Ford
d.) Taz Mopula

9. “Art is the shortest distance between two points, when one of the points has no known, or knowable, location.”
a.) Albert Einstein
b.) Stephen Hawking
c.) Carl Sagan
d.) Taz Mopula

10. “Even the greatest paintings are flat; they only become three-dimensional in the eyes of those who behold them.”
a.) Clarence Fountain
b.) Art Tatum
c.) Andrea Bocelli
d.) Taz Mopula

11. “Never confuse fame with artistic quality, or wealth with value. Society gets what it wants, not what it needs.”
a.) Liberace
b.) Aaron Spelling
c.) Steven Jobs
d.) Taz Mopula

12. “The only thing worse than obsessing over your press clippings is believing the ones you wrote yourself.”
a.) Madonna
b.) Quentin Tarantino
c.) Norman Mailer
d.) Taz Mopula

13. “Propaganda is to art as prostitution is to mambo lessons for the blind, in France.”
a.) Woody Guthrie
b.) Diego Rivera
c.) Jean Paul Sartre
d.) Taz Mopula

14. “I’m looking for someone to ghost-write my upcoming self-help book.”
a.) Deepak Chopra
b.) Wayne Dyer
c.) Pema Chödrön
d.) Taz Mopula

15. “A picture is worth a thousand lies.”
a.) Dorothea Lange
b.) Frank Capra
c.) Diane Arbus
d.) Taz Mopula

16. “Artists are typically motivated by twin passions; fear of anonymity and the desire to create feelings of inferiority in others.”
a.) Pablo Picasso
b.) Oscar Wilde
c.) Blind Lemon Jefferson
d.) Taz Mopula

17. “Art is what we have instead of answers.”
a.) Hieronymus Bosch
b.) Søren Kierkegaard
c.) Albert Ayler
d.) Taz Mopula

18. “That the camera cannot lie is axiomatic. But digital technology has enabled manufacturers to correct this deficiency.”
a.) Annie Leibovitz
b.) Henri Cartier-Bresson
c.) Mathew Brady
d.) Taz Mopula

19. “No one goes to school to become an artist; you go to school to avoid becoming an artist.”
a.) Moms Mabley
b.) Isadora Duncan
c.) Jean Cocteau
d.) Taz Mopula

20. “Writing poetry, playing the violin, and tossing dwarfs; when these pursuits are entrusted to amateurs, tragedy ensues.”
a.) Charles Bukowski
b.) Stéphane Grappelli
c.) Tom Thumb
d.) Taz Mopula

Contact me for answers.

DSM-5 Challenges Sanity Definition

Lost Out On A Great Job Because I Failed The Personality Test

Most of us who wrestle with mental health issues also must confront feelings of low self-esteem. When we fully appreciate that we are not quite “normal” we may come to believe that we are “less than”. But that feeling does not last forever.

For the most part we work hard to address our maladies and gradually gain mastery over illnesses that were once overpowering. At that point we acknowledge that we have an illness, but we move among “regular folks” with a newfound comfort and confidence. We may still think of ourselves as “a wee bit different”, but we no longer feel “less than”.

Then an amazing thing happens. Because we have become confident in ourselves, we begin to look around the world with curiosity, not fear. We rapidly discover that the people we once found intimidating because they were so sane, grounded and “normal” aren’t really as mentally healthy as we gave them credit for being. The “irony alarm” goes off repeatedly as we compare some of these square shooters to the people like us, (who have been smeared with the label of “whackadoomius”), and quickly conclude that we are, in fact, a lot healthier and balanced than they are!

It’s a little bit validating, but also a little disturbing, and reminds one of the old idea that perhaps “the inmates are running the asylum”. Well, the hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin’ daddies at the American Psychiatric Association were well aware of this as they sat down to update the legendary Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and DSM-5 will boast some brand new diagnoses demonstrating a new willingness to view commonly accepted behavior through a pathological lens. Below are just a few new entries that show, “Normal is the new whacked”.

Bloated Toad Syndrome: Generally considered a reflection of unhealthy societal values like wretched excess and conspicuous consumption, Bloated Toad Syndrome is among the most controversial new diagnoses in DSM-5. Symptoms include: McMansions, outsized SUVs like the Bentley Behemoth, and flat screen TVs that double as load-bearing walls.

Truth Decay: APA officials estimate that one in four Americans suffers from this debilitating moral degeneration. At first restricted to a handful of “at risk” groups, (i.e., lawyers, politicians, used-car salesmen, advertising executives, and FBI agents), Truth Decay has spread nationwide and has even had a corrupting effect on television news!

Debtor’s Prism: Once as exotic as Munchausen by Proxy, Debtor’s Prism has moved to center stage in American culture. The term “prism” is used synonymously with “rose colored glasses” and refers to a type of magical thinking that causes the afflicted to purchase material possessions far beyond their means. Massively in debt, the wildly deluded sufferers buy with random abandon, completely lacking any sense of responsibility or even reality. By looking through their “debtor’s prism” they see the world they want to see, not the world that is.

Faux Real? Disorder: It has long been understood – both by the APA and the general public – that life on social networking sites consists largely of manufacturing highly inaccurate, inflated portrayals of one’s self in order to impress near and dear and strangers alike. This did not concern psychiatrists at the APA until they realized that many individuals were actually believing their own fabrications, “reading their own Press Releases” as it were. Self-deception, always a bedrock contributor to mental illness, had morphed to an entirely new level, with millions of Americans adoringly hanging on every new lie they told about themselves.

There are more. Just remember for now, not every monkey is in the zoo – some of them own the zoo.

“Sometimes it seems like the inmates are running the asylum. Then again, would a sane person want that job?” Taz Mopula

It’s Lonely At The Top

It's Lonely At Top

The students who attend Tucson University, America’s most prestigious online learning resource, are scattered throughout the country. Consequently, a traditional graduation ceremony is both logistically challenging and inappropriate.

This year’s graduation ceremony was special indeed. Because Tucson, (sometimes referred to as Virtual U), finds its entire existence in digital ether; featured guest speaker Taz Mopula delivered his remarks in a series of tweets.

They appear below.

Tucson University 2012 Commencement Tweets – Taz Mopula

Class of 2012. As you explore what is arguably the world, remember:

It’s lonely at the top. Then again, it’s lonely at the bottom too, plus, the service is really bad.

There is nothing to fear except you itself.

If I could only give you one piece of advice it would be this: Do not, under any circumstances, take my advice.

The moment you are certain that you’ve got it all worked out is precisely when you finally not do.

If you think education is expensive, try insolence.

Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?

Those who can’t do, teach; those who can’t teach, teach anyway.

How can you think outside of the box when the box is inside your head?

There is no shame in ignorance; then again, it’s no cause for celebration, either.

The more you learn the less you know for certain; the less you know for certain the more you learn.

Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.

Your college selection is irrelevant. However, where you go to high school is crucial; because they will never let you leave.

Thank you.

TAZ TALKS

taz talks logo

TAZ TALK was founded in 1984 and has been held annually at the Airport Holiday Inn outside Aspen, Colorado ever since. The TAZ TALK Mission Statement is as follows:

We believe passionately in the power of seminars to fill seats. Our goal is to establish a clearinghouse of warmed-over twaddle carefully constructed to allow fuzzy-headed ultra-liberals unencumbered access to the self-righteous sanctimony they so desperately crave. Life Is Good!

Over the years, Taz Talks have featured some of our most profoundly inspiring paradigm-shifters, thought-leaders, game-changers, and tipping-pointers including Pema Chödrön, Zig Zigler, Tony Robbins, and Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter – better known to millions as Reverend Ike.

Here, at last, is the complete transcript of TAZ TALK #1, delivered by Taz Mopula on May 8, 1984. (Speaker commentary appears in regular type. Bolded quotes were projected for audience members to read.)

Welcome to Taz Talks. My name is Taz Mopula. I’d like to begin with a question.

Slide 1.

“If you don’t know what you want, how can you be certain that what you have right now isn’t it?” Taz Mopula

Most of us don’t even know who we are, so how on earth could we know what we want? What we think we want is what other people want us to want. So we do.

Slide 2.

“Entitlement is a fraudulent concept. We are none of us entitled to anything. Even that next breath you crave is a gift.” Taz Mopula

Inalienable rights! Hilarious! Pursuit of happiness! Stop, you’re killing me! Right to exist! Priceless! None of us is entitled to anything at all, not even death.

Slide 3.

“Expect the worst and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.” Taz Mopula

Attitude influences outcome, although it certainly doesn’t guarantee it.

Slide 4.

“Why raise the bridge when you can lower your expectations of the river?” Taz Mopula

There’s a lot of talk about creative problem solving, but it’s hard to think outside the box when the box is inside your head.

Slide 5.

“You can always have everything you want because you get to decide what you want.” Taz Mopula

I want you to be free from want. Do you see how this can never work?

Slide 6.

“It’s lonely at the top. Then again, it’s lonely at the bottom too, plus, the service is really bad.” Taz Mopula

Having sex in an elevator is wrong on so many levels.

Slide 7.

“The only thing worse than obsessing over your press clippings is believing the ones you wrote yourself.” Taz Mopula

They say that reality occurs when two or more people simultaneously subscribe to the same illusion.

Slide 8.

“Psychotics, murderers, and those who claim certain knowledge of God’s will, are to be avoided at all cost.” Taz Mopula

Beware the zealous speaker. He may be mad, selling something, or intoxicated by a misguided belief in his own imagined infallibility.

Slide 9.

“There is nothing to fear except you itself.” Taz Mopula

We think of the world as a dangerous place and realize too late that we are the most dangerous part of it.

Slide 10.

“If I could only give you one piece of advice it would be this: Do not, under any circumstances, take my advice.” Taz Mopula

Thank you.

 

Washed Up Reviewed by K. Eby

01 Washed Up Cover Framed 2    Click Cover to Order

Axis of Brilliance

Washed Up is another great ride. Again, Alistair shows his talent for introducing us to characters who span an entire axis. Wealthy/Not, Healthy/Not, on their way out/on their way back…in a mathematic axis, these people are dots who live (or will live) in the x AND y planes AND in the positive AND the negative planes. Through wonderful dialogue and narrative talent, he carefully describes them just enough for us to get to know them – and apply our own experience to flesh out who they really are. He then tells us their story and sets up the crashes. You see these collisions from above – at least what you think they will be. But, as great storytellers do, they are not what you assume – which is what leaves the lasting impact.

Running through this novel, like a Booker T keyboard (it knows when to lead and when to lay back and when to duck out), is his observation of alcoholism and its impact on this world. This is the catalyst to many of the events in the book and it is through this vehicle that we experience a lot of the emotion of the novel. Joy, pain. Victory, loss. Second chances and the careless disposal of second (and maybe last) chances.

I found myself not entirely comfortable putting the book down until I was satisfied that I had finished the journey and found adequate resolution to the plight of these characters. And could make my own hypothesis as to their future. Like all of Alistair’s work, in my experience, this one rents a little space in your brain for a few weeks after you finish it. I like that.

Kent Eby

Self Medication

If You Need Brain Surgery - Involve Other People

The first time I heard the term “self-medication” I laughed out loud. In searching for an analogy one thinks immediately of the old adage – the lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client. But that’s when the stakes are low, going free or going to jail. How about when the stakes are high? Sanity versus insanity? Life versus death?

Jean Paul Sartre, a very clever fellow, used to play Russian roulette because he was bored. Well, self-medication is like playing Russian roulette with one big difference, all the gun’s chambers contain live ammo.

Self-medication – (the term itself is preposterous) – fits nicely into the insufferable arrogance and egotism of mania – as if to say – I can manage this little spot of bother myself with nothing more complicated than some garden-variety drugs. I remember it all too vividly – “throwing gasoline on a fire”.

I adored the adrenaline rush of mania, and I tried to “manage it” with marijuana and alcohol – marijuana to knock the sharp edges off the mania and make it smooth and yummy – and alcohol to slow me down and mellow me out to the point where I wasn’t constantly irritated by the sheer inanity of the huddled masses and their inability to keep up with me.

It was an inspired strategy except that it wasn’t and a brilliant idea except that it almost got me killed – folks – when it comes time for brain surgery you really need to involve others, professionals – people who actually know what they’re doing.

The hubris and sense of entitlement one encounters in a person at the apex of mania are astounding, but add in the loss of inhibitions and appalling judgment that arise from drunkenness and you have a confident imbecile who thrives on risk-taking and abusing authority.

Some people can drink; I’m not three of them. It would be nice if the folks who made booze would take people like me into consideration. For example, if booze came with realistic warning labels with statements like these.

WARNING: Excessive Use Of This Product Might Cause You To:

· Invade Russia during the winter.
· Buy life insurance from a guy named Guido.
· Toss your Rolex onto the chips in the expectation of filling out an inside straight.
· Believe your boss really wants your advice about improving the department.
· Think you’ve suddenly become a great singer who will dazzle them all on karaoke night.
· Tell the cop of course you knew it was a one-way street; you were only driving one way.
· Impress your mother in law with that joke about the octopus and the bagpipes.
· Get the word THINK tattooed on your forehead backwards so you can read it in the mirror while you’re shaving.

The list would be long. Perhaps reading it would give us time to get over the absurd idea that we can “medicate” ourselves using drugs that are designed to rob of us of our reason.