Do Mad People Fall Sick?

“Do mad people fall sick” was one of the search terms that somehow landed someone at my blog today. Oh I know, it must have been because I mentioned yesterday that I was feeling ill. This is a fascinating question, and I look forward to exploring it.

First there is the premise that there is something called “madness (“the quality or condition of being insane,”–The Free Dictionary).” The word “madness” instantly whisks my brain to the infamous insane asylum, or “madhouse,” called Bedlam, as the Bethlem Royal Hospital (founded 1330 c.e.) was called. The very word “bedlam” has made its way into the common parlance as a descriptor of an out-of-control chaotic situation, e.g., “my five-year-old’s birthday party was complete bedlam.”

So madness, by association, must be connected with chaos: a chaos of the mind that extends beyond what is considered “within normal limits.”

A term that was used to describe the profession now know as psychiatry was “alienist,” right up to the middle of the 20th century. Psychiatric hospitals were known as “Alien Asylums.” Brings up images of little green people peering anxiously out of barred windows, eh?

If mad people are aliens, that means that they are so completely different from “normal”people as to be considered to be in another class entirely, perhaps even another species.

But what about the “asylum” part? Asylum is a place of refuge from pursuit. The word actually goes all the way back to the Old Testament, where God commanded Moses to create cities of refuge in the Holy Land for people who had accidentally killed someone. Once in the City of Refuge, they were protected from being killed by the relatives of the accidentally slain one. So like the biblical City of Refuge or the Hotel California, you could check in, but you couldn’t check out.

So having established that mad people are aliens, and aliens are not normal, we can very well ask the question “do mad people fall sick?”

To answer this we must look at a more modern, but politically incorrect except for legalistic use, term: insanity. Breaking the word “insane” down etymologically we have in=not and sane, which come from the Latin word “sanitas”=healthy. So “insane”=not healthy. But we knew that already. That is why we call it “mental illness.”

So what the search question above seems to mean in this context is, “Can a mentally ill person, who is perceived (by the searcher) to be so alien that I do not even consider them to be part of my universe, be subject to the common physical ailments that we normal humans fall sick with?”

The answer, O ignorant one, is yes.

Leave a comment


  1. Wonder if the searcher found what they were looking for?
    Not sure they deserved a reply, but they won’t get any better than what you just put together.
    Loved it!

    • Thank you! It did give me pause; but I thought, dear me, what if this is some poor alien who has just been delivered the fell diagnosis of madness, and now his panicked mind is flying about like a bat that has somehow got into the house, screaming: now what? Now what? Do mad people fall sick, too, on top of everything else? So I took pity on the poor thing, and answered them. And they really couldn’t have picked a better person to ask, could they? A mad doctor.

  2. Sometimes it just makes me want to say rather loudly and definitely sarcastically, “DUH!!” and then slap ’em up ‘side the head!!

    • Your reaction is completely understandable, and I share your annoyance, especially when I find myself being treated like an alien. I do think we should start “Alien Awareness Month,” don’t you? That way we could raise consciousness among muggles, er, neurotypicals, that we aliens are people too, and subject to all the physical sniffles and catastrophes that they are. Hopefully we could get some high-profile yet well-behaved aliens on Oprah and whatever other TV talk shows are on now–we don’t have television on my planet–to do some outreach, so that the muggles can see that we usually do not, contrary to popular myth, sport green skin, slanty almond eyes (although I like those), and stubby antennae (I like those too).

      • HA!! πŸ˜€ I’ll support the AAM if you will!! πŸ˜€ Quite frankly, if I were to be an alien, I’d choose blue skin and purple eyes. Those are my two favorite colors!! πŸ˜€ You crack me up!! πŸ˜€

  3. Blue and purple, eh? Nice choices. See, you’ve changed my way of thinking. I think I want purple skin with pink wavy stripes, and green eyes with vertical pupils like goats have. And long wavy pink hair with purple stripes. And nails to match. What kind of hair do you want, if any?

  4. Hmmm . . . hadn’t thought about hair. I should have because my hair has been on my mind lately. When I last washed my hair I noticed that it’s now SO much longer and yet it’s grown back in half as thick as it was before the chemo. The doctor more than tripled the amount of both poisons I was given beginning with my second treatment. My sister pointed out that that huge amount might be what caused the thinness. I had been told by many it would probably grow back in curly and maybe a different color. It does have a whole lot more grey than it did before it fell out, but it’s still straight.

    So even though it might not match my blue skin and purple eyes, I absolutely must have long, curly red hair!! πŸ˜€ Mine has always been dark brown — except when I frosted it with various shades of blonde over the years. The best thing about getting grey hair is the fact that nature is frosting my hair now!! πŸ˜€

    As for my nails, I have to stay with black. I tried it out many years ago and fell in love with the way they look painted black. I confess I started with my toenails, so that only I could see them. Suddenly I was singing my own version of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.” HA!! My goodness, but I had fun that evening!! What a great memory you’ve brought up. I certainly hope I wrote my lyrics down somewhere. Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend? Yep, looking through my papers to find the words!! HA!! πŸ˜€

    • There, you see, you can up your Survivor ante by growing a head of luxurious thick hair. The red will certainly set off the purple and blue dramatically, and the black nails….well, of course! And I want to see those lyrics, if you find them.


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