CALLAHANmadness

CALLAHANmadness - CDC - Madness Page 1 of 8 Past Issue Vol....

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Past Issue Vol. 8, No. 9 September 2002 EID Home | Ahead of Print | Past Issues | EID Search | Contact Us | Announcements | Suggested Citation Instructional Film Scene I Instructional Film Scene II Elsewhere in Nature Sources More "Another Dimension" articles Download Article PDF Help Feedback Another Dimension Madness Gerald N. Callahan There are clouds in the painting, of course. Almost any one of us would have included those clouds, thick with electricity and rainwater. And there is the wheat field, smudged out like an empty palm, orange beneath the storm-stricken sun. Surely, many of us would have insisted on the wheat as well. Through the middle of the wheat, a rutted road slices to the horizon and disappears beneath the clouds. Even I, a scientist, would have included the road. A storm like that demands a road. Without the road, there is no hope at all. But then there are the crows— the one true hint of what had been and what was to come—fistfuls of them, flung into the swirls beneath the angry wet anvils. All that the painter had lost, irretrievably lost, he put inside those crows. Van Gogh died because of an instant (or a lifetime) during which the portrait of his life appeared worse than the portrait of his death. Died because his pictures filled up with crows. We call that a behavioral disorder because we imagine healthy people don’t see the crows, healthy people don’t choose death over life. And we say that behavioral disorders are caused by “mental” diseases to distinguish them from “real” diseases—infections, tumors, broken bones, burst blood vessels, polio. Real diseases are diseases of the body . We do that—razor medicine off at the neck—because people such as René Descartes and Pope Urban VIII contended that the human soul resides in the mind, and human disease resides in the body. Sometimes because of that contention, we believe people with mental diseases are less genuinely ill than people with somatic diseases. Sometimes we even believe that people with mental diseases and behavioral disorders suffer more from weakness of spirit and flaws of character than from genuine disease. Beneath our collective breath, we say that the crows are inside their heads, and having said that, we imagine that the crows are not real. Page 1 of 8 CDC - Madness 9/6/2006 http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol8no9/02-0204.htm
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My Uncle Henry had a habit of leaving his fly unzipped, completely unzipped, regardless of who might be around to notice. My mother, his sister, hated that. Henry’s underpants were usually urine-stained, his shirt tails hung out of the opening in his pants, and he had a propensity to yell “shit” and to spit for no apparent reason. Mother hated that too. And because she imagined that Henry’s eccentric behavior was concrete evidence of his total disregard for others, especially her, mother raised up a little hatred for Henry himself. Over the years, that hatred blossomed inside her and bore seed. I don’t think Henry ever noticed how much mother despised him. At times, I’d watch him
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CALLAHANmadness - CDC - Madness Page 1 of 8 Past Issue Vol....

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