You know, it was just the night before last as I was heading to my car after a fine day at work. Really it had been a good day. Just as I reached the car I was barely able to resist a sudden urge to just drop to the ground and cry my eyes out as if God Himself had come to me personally and told me that I wouldn’t be joining Him in heaven. A massive wave of depression you might call it. Lasted about 5 or 6 hours and eventually faded into a mild general malaise (and yeah–I’m drugged so it used to be worse). It was then that I had a mental illness epiphany, one that might be of interest to our Ludovic.
I feel safe in saying that almost everyone has used an excess of a drug at least once in their lives. Most commonly abused would be alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. Now you know that these drugs can affect the way you think, the way your senses react to their environment, and how you intepret your world. Someone who’s really drunk might become consumed by one emotion–anger, sadness, happiness–and still be able to think to himself, “woah…I’m a bit out of control here” and not be able to overpower that emotion and so the extreme behavior associated with the emotion–fighting, bawling, lovin&laughin’–continues. In my experience with a sometimes debilitating emotional disorder, it’s a very similar sensation. Only the “drug” comes from within and is applied without warning and without control. The result is, from my perspective, an unsettling and violent change in mood and perception that comes out of nowhere. What others see as moody or “wacky” is really a nightmare of uncertain reality, unpredictable moods, and often hallucinations.
My point is, I live my life in MY world, and my world changes in hundreds of tiny ways every day depending on what my brains are up to. And quite frankly, in the midst of a psychotic episode, I will do what I KNOW to be right…but “normal” folks will view those actions as less than appropriate. Can you punish, even torture, someone who thought that the actions they took were appropriate when they took them? How about if those actions included a solid paranoia-based belief that brain candy drugs like Prozac, lithium, M&Ms, etc…are really mind-control drugs? Ever taken them? It’s CREEPY when you notice their effects. That creepiness alone is pretty convincing when you’re entertaining the thought that maybe they’re mind-control drugs. What SANE person would willingly take mind-control drugs that would allow them to be manipulated by some potentially nefarious entity?
This is a tough problem for most people, not just Ludovic. Because it means that they must make the decision between relaxing their grip on their own reality long enough to understand where the “criminal” is coming from, or admitting to themselves that they really care nothing for anyone’s thoughts but their own. Really. because the person that cries out for horrible retribution to avenge a third party is doing so ONLY because it makes HIM feel better about the whole event.
So in this particular case, the only difference between the punished and the punisher is which side of the bars each one is on.