Why do people embrace crazy?

It seems to me that everybody I know in real life and social media likes to trumpet the fact that they are not normal. It seems to me that no one is usual but claiming insanity or madness is absurd.
I know I am unique just like anyone else but what is the rationale?

Probably what they are saying is that they are not bland and boring.

Because they were raised by parents who kept reaffirming how different and special they are, instead of telling them they are pretty much the same as most of the rest of the kids in their class, dance lessons, soccer team.

To me, people embracing “crazy” and being “not normal” are two different things. I haven’t seen too many people who label themselves as “crazy”, because crazy is largely seen as a bad thing.

But I have noticed that people feel more comfortable talking about mental health conditions and aren’t apologetic about it.

Everybody else may do this, but I don’t. I’m special.

They’re overcompensating for their self-perceived lack of social norms or graces and insecurities.

Maybe it’s true. There are so many different ways to be weird that there’s not really a limit on how much of the population can do it.

Plus I think a lot of us weirdos felt self-conscious about it when we were younger and then later learned to embrace it more, or at least try to.

And possibly a lack of boundries and filters re: common sense.


What crazy is being embraced and in what context?

“I have ADD” “I have Asperger Syndrome” “I take medicine for depression and it works great” “I am not neurotypical; deal with it man!” “Yeah, I am psychotic” or what?

Explaining why they do or don’t do things, as a badge of honor, sharing history, or what?

I don’t have too many social contacts myself who trumpet their mental illnesses about. Some more circumspect about it than others, some willing to share if relevant and to demystify and destigmatize it for others. But trumpeting? Not too many I know. Maybe we are in very different social circles.

I’m afraid the OP (meaning the post, and not the poster, in this case) is a little too shallow to give an informative response without extrapolating heavily.

Previous posters have, more or less, and with more or less understanding, explained the more common sort of situation where someone might wish to express pride in their differences, their unconventionality, their weirdness.

But, taking the title of the OP, why would someone embrace “crazy”?

Simply, it’s a survivor’s mechanism.

More fully, many people who have undergone a certain kind of experience, wherein they have been labelled “crazy” (or treated as if they had that label, without anyone being honest enough to use the label to their face), have limited choices in how to respond to this situation. This is the case regardless of whether the person underwent the experience due to a psychotic break, or an acute occurrence of a chronic mental illness, or simply handled a stressful situation poorly, or, sadly, had friends, coworkers or family who were predisposed to abuse the individual for reasons that have little to do with the individual beyond being a convenient scapegoat. Often it’s a combination of two or more of the above.

A beautiful bouquet of Catch-22 situations arise under these sorts of circumstances. From a certain perspective, it matters little whether the individual in question was truly “crazy” in some clinical sense, or absolutely free of such maladaption. Either way, the person is thrust into a situation where no one in their personal lives trusts them to know their own mental state*. Regardless, someone who has been labelled or treated as “crazy” is in a particularly strange situation where their motives, desires, and goals are analyzed and scrutinized, and, far too often, that scrutiny is harsh rather than fair.

The last thing a person can do in such a situation is to proclaim their sanity. No one ever believes such a claim. Nearly every option such an individual might take is beset by similar Catch-22 situations, and the vast majority of people are not capable of dealing with such circumstances without being significantly hampered by the stress of being in such a situation.

So, it becomes a matter of survival: embrace “crazy”. Reject societal norms and rebel against convention. Rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light. Fine, fuck it, I’m crazy. I’m in good company, and you can go suck it if you’re so square that you can’t deal. What other option is left to such an individual?

When someone is oppressed, they wish to be liberated from that oppression. Lacking better options, embracing crazy is liberating. It’s sure a hell of a lot better than being one of the fucking pod people.

  • Are you hungry? Really? Are you tired? Really? Why is it, exactly, that you wish to be left alone? Why do you wish to be free to do want you want to do?

I think its also easier for us to accept if someone claims to be nuts, vs the alternative:

“I have no mental issues whatsoever, I’m 100% neurotypical, no skeletons in the closet nope totally fine”.

This explanation, which, even if true, is seldom going to be believed. People assume everyone will ‘sugar coat’ their own qualities. You claim to be a ‘good driver’? You probably just perceive yourself as one. ‘Great with kids’? Maybe you’re proud that you can simply tolerate being around them. People exaggerate. And that’s where owning the crazy comes in.

Embracing craziness accomplishes two things:

1.) It makes the person seem more ‘honest’ by being upfront about issues they might have. They value themselves based on their self honesty (placing the person who is honest about being flawed above the person who is dishonest about being perfect).

2.) Its a way to fish for compliments because they are maybe hoping their friends/SO will feel they ‘aren’t THAT crazy’ which will make them feel saner from all the compliments and reassurances.

Back when I was online dating, I had this crazy idea to post a somewhat unflattering photo of myself in my profile. Against the common advice of putting your best foot forward, I wanted people to see me with sand in my eyes and salt water running out of my nose :stuck_out_tongue: (candid photo of myself getting up from being knocked over by a wave at the beach). I figured people who met me in real life would be relieved that I looked more handsome than my photo. I often felt like the photos I saw of people tended to be more idealized/flattering than how they looked in real life, and I wanted to take the opposite approach.

I think people trumpeting their craziness might be trying the same thing sometimes.

Attention whoring! Look how special/precious/pitiful I am! Everyone, admire me! or pity me (as the case may be)! Look at me! Lookatmelookatmelookatme!

Crazy isn’t fun.

Eccentric/weird/oddball/unique – that can be loads of fun!

Admit it: wouldn’t you just love it if you learned that you’re actually a distant relative of Gomez and Morticia?

The OP title is rather awkwardly phrased. “Embrace the Crazy” makes me think of “sticking your dick in the crazy” – that is, becoming attached to someone who is extremely off-kilter or/and potentially dangerous (if only in an emotional sense.) Battered women who stick with their abusive husbands is an extreme yet sadly common example. Addiction to crazy can be worse than a drug habit.

However, “crazy” itself is a relative term. Ignaz Semmelweis, the Hungarian scientist who discovered germs, was confined to a mental hospital as punishment for urging doctors to wash their hands. Two centuries later, people who disbelieve the existence of germs are now labeled “craaazy” instead. In this case, “craaazy” means sticking to what you believe is reality, even if everyone disagrees with that reality.

But after thinking it over (just now), I’m thinking there’s a more sinister implication in the OP’s words. Namely, that “crazy” may merely mean eccentric, original and unique, independent, difficult to categorize, etc. Someone who does not conform to society’s norms is often labeled “crazy” as a defense mechanism by those who have already sold out but secretly wish they could be free as a bird. In this case, “crazy” is a nasty buzzword that’s countered by free spirits who merely say, “Fuck it, I’m crazy and I know it, clap your hands!” And anyone who disagrees with them or tries to put them down is merely jealous.

Or something like that. I’m not even sure what I just wrote, which probably means I’m crazy but fuck it.

Nah, more like Doc Brown and Clara Clayton.

The “crazy” fool has been trumped in books and film at least since Cervante’s Don Quixote, but has garnered a new level of popularity since the 1960s. Many people base their personal identity on creating such an image because to be normal, in their thinking, is to be forgotten. But as Trinopus stated, the key is to be oddball (Jim Carrey or Rodney Dangerfield) versus genuinely crazy (Randy Quaid or Mark David Chapman).

Just curious, how well did this strategy work for you?

I think it is used in a more affectionate term than really mentaly unballanced, it seems like the folks I know who seem to be a little off are more sane than the ones who seem to live these picture perfect conventional lives. We are often discouraged from openly talking about creative ideas or theories about things. (not talking conspiracy type). Free spirits seem to lack filters but thats fine with me, I enjoy the company of free thinkers and communicators.

Let’s start things off here by clarifying something: when people call someone else “crazy”, or jokingly define themselves as “crazy”, they aren’t talking about true mental illness.

I, for one, do not go around letting the world know that I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder II and my continued existence is due to the massive amounts of medication I am on. For starters, I like having a job and a family. I like the fact that I can converse with other people without them running away. Lest you think I’m joking, my doctor once told me that of the people with BP2 he was working with I was the only one who was holding down a steady job…out of about ten or fifteen patients. Not a single person outside my wife and the people on this board know about my diagnosis. If I want to have anything resembling a life I’ll keep it that way. Nobody embraces genuine crazy. But nobody I know thinks I am that. In fact, several people tell me I’m the most put-together person I know. The meds have chipped off my edges, and my dullish job, nerdish look, and suburban hobbies reinforce that. I’m just the guy in the suit who plays golf and has a wife and two kids. Where’s the “crazy” in that?

As a result of group sessions I’ve attended I’ve gotten to know many genuinely mentally ill persons over the years, some of whom ended up getting put away for various offenses or for being a danger to others. And I can assure you that none of them bragged about being crazy; far from it, they were the ones trying to tell you how sane they were.

I once had a girlfriend who wore mismatched thrift store clothes (and owned an entire room full of them), wandered in and out of jobs, dabbled in various New Age movements, and picked up and dropped various hobbies and habits and alter egos on a whim. For these behaviors she was deemed “crazy” by my friends and I got ribbed for “sticking my dick in the crazy”* etc. Of course the irony was that the opposite was true; she was the one who was quite sane, just very free-spirited and impulsive, while I was battling some strong mental demons which hadn’t yet been identified. She tiptoed along the rails with little fear of falling, while only my strong impulse control kept me from going off of them.

I wonder what would have happened if I’d been the sane but odd-natured one, and she’d been the mentally ill but boring-looking one. While I can’t imagine myself dressing up like Macklemore and proclaiming to be a Wiccan priest, I also can’t imagine people calling me “crazy” for that either. I’m not usually the one who points out the sexism in various trends, but I can’t help but notice that when someone gets called “crazy” for being out of the ordinary, it’s usually a woman. Men who have the same traits are called “odd” or “eccentric”, but I don’t think those terms aren’t loaded in the same way. I have the feeling that a lot of otherwise simply eccentric women who embrace the idea that they are “crazy” are doing so out of societal expectation rather than any real feeling of craziness.

As for the idea that “crazy” is a modern way of saying one isn’t a boring, outwardly normal person like (irony of ironies) myself, it’s something I obviously don’t appreciate. I mean, there are perfectly good words to describe oneself if you want to do so. Co-opting a slur used against people like myself is, well…crazy?

*Which of course I make no apologies for. People who are uninhibited in real life tend to be gloriously uninhibited elsewhere.