Are You Nuts?
Friday April 23, 2004
You can find out if you're nuts and don't know it, with tips from a leading psychiatrist.
"Millions of Americans are clinically insane but they don't realize it because, well, they're crazy," says maverick Dr. Barbara Flenel.
"But it's certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. Some of our greatest historical figures and celebrities have been stark, raving mad. Billionaire Howard Hughes was an obsessive-compulsive lunatic who washed his hands hundreds of times a day because he was terrified of germs."
Finding out whether you are nuts can help you avoid making costly and embarrassing mistakes, says the expert.
Here are three "yes" and "no" questions that, when answered honestly, will indicate whether you're riding the "sanity train" or the "cuckoo bus," says Flenel, adding that if your friends and loved ones don't want to answer the questions themselves, you may feel free to answer for them and tell them what you've concluded.
Remember: You must answer each question with a "yes" or a "no" -- no hedging! 1) Do you ever feel that life is more complicated than it needs to be?
If you answered "no," you have an admirable grip on reality and the kind of can-do attitude that it takes to be a winner in life.
If you answered "yes," that is not a good sign. You are struggling to cope and in time may crack or even "go postal" and kill somebody, especially if you answer "yes" to the next question. 2) Have you ever wished that the good things in life would happen all the time and the bad things would just go away?
If you answered "no," once again, you've proved that you are capable of rolling with the punches, and that you can embrace life and live it to the fullest -- which are hallmarks of the sane mind.
If you answered "yes," you are deeply and possibly even dangerously troubled. By rejecting the half of reality that's not to your liking, you are constantly struggling to come to terms with "what is" and "what could be." Even worse, you've sliced your psyche in half, rendering yourself "schizo."
King Midas -- who wanted everything to turn gold -- suffered this way. He was extremely unhappy, and, eventually, the famed, fairy-tale royal went stark, raving mad. 3) Do you think other people are the cause of your problems?
If you answered "yes," you are both infantile and out-of-balance, a classic "nut." The chances of you ever finding meaning and happiness in life are slim. After awhile, this misery may cause you to fall completely off your rocker.
If you answered "no," you are level-headed and eventempered. Both of these are characteristics of a sane and healthy individual, psychiatrist Flenel says.
"If you are sane, congratulations -- and if you are a nut, take heart," continues the Los Angeles-based expert. "Today really is the first day of the rest of your life. And if you want to change, you can.
"If you've got money, make an appointment with a psychiatrist. If you're poor, visit your state-supported mental health center and stand in line. Either way, you'll find yourself on the road to recovery from an illness you didn't even know you had."