Some types of crazy are worse than others. If you want to use technical terms and modifiers, you can say that one person's mild caffeinism is not nearly so bad as another's moderate depression, which is not so bad as a third person's extreme paranoia.
I'm not an expert on mental illness, so I might be using the terms incorrectly. But I think paranoia is actually the type of crazy I'm interested in here.
I've only had dealings with one or two extremely paranoid people, but they were disturbing enough for me to seek advice from a mental health professional on what I should do with paranoid people. (I seem to remember that you should be honest and straight-up with them, and go with your gut on any feelings of personal danger you might have. They're really sensitive to people fucking with them: they're crazy enough that they cause others to lie and otherwise act crazy, which reinforces the original paranoia.)
I guess there are forms and degrees to paranoia, too. Some "9/11 truthers" might be exhibiting mild paranoia, while people with extreme paranoid schizophrenia are probably much worse off. The extremely paranoid are often paranoid schizophrenics, but there can be other causes, like overuse of stimulants. So not everyone who is really paranoid is schizophrenic.
But I wonder: are there different types of paranoia? It would seem there have to be. If so, do they have specific tells?
For instance, if someone thinks that other people are projecting thoughts into their brain, so they wrap their heads in tinfoil, then they're pretty clearly schizophrenic. So if someone is a Holocaust denier, what might that make them? Or how about if they believe in an "international Jewish conspiracy"? Just like "tinfoil hat," I've heard the term "international Jewish conspiracy" so many times that I think it must be characteristic of some particular mental illness.
But being a Holocaust denier and believing in an international Jewish conspiracy are probably often co-morbid, a term mental health people wind up using a lot. There might not be a lot distinguishing them. But there can still be better and worse cases with such people, right? What might make it worse?
How about having a Jewish mother, and possibly a Jewish father, but despite your heritage, also being a vocal Holocaust denier and believing in an international Jewish conspiracy? Would that be worse? Probably: I mean, it seems pretty fucked up to me. How about having to leave your country because of your actions and extreme political views? Do we still have a specific disease, maybe a bad form of it?
One thing about piling on qualifiers like this: sooner or later you wind up with a null set in your net. There is no one who meets your criteria, and you're then talking about a theoretical or imaginary disorder. It might be horribly hard to imagine someone like in the last paragraph. But in fact, we can pile on a few more. What if, in addition to your paranoia, your delusions about Jews despite being one, your vocalness, your political problems... what if you were extremely intelligent? What would that mean -- what would that make you?
Anne Applebaum at the WP points out it's not that the nation of Sudan is full of crazy people: it's that they're acting that way. She is not the first person to point the general sentiment out, but it does bear repetition.
I understand the president of Sudan pardoned the "guilty" teacher in this case. I feel the need to compliment him in this matter, but the compliment I have in mind is racist and politically incorrect, so I will forbear. Perhaps I'll just say that I feel like Harry Callahan in The Enforcer.
A year or two ago, I got in an argument on LiveJournal over the idea of male privilege. I wasn't intending on argument: it was a brush-fire-type discussion, fanned by Santa Ana winds generated by the original post. The argument was never resolved, but I put one of the participants on my LJ friendslist. On LJ, she goes under the handle "Sealwhiskers."
Sealwhiskers has a really good post today about religion, atheism, and some similarities between strong adherents in both groups. I think what she's identified is a sort of "fundamentalist atheism," if you will, in which the adherent is not satisfied just to believe in disbelieving; they also seem to need to mount their arguments against those not already strongly in the church of atheism. As adherents.org puts it, "A minority among atheists are quite fervent in their beliefs and actively endeavor to proselytize atheism." Or as Sealwhiskers put it to a panel of scorners: "But religion is for many about feeling specialness, that you are
special, unique, chosen to be seen by something greater, about having
particular insights that separates you from 'others.' And what are you
doing in this panel other than cultivating that exact same feeling?"
Sealwhiskers's post isn't just about what I'm calling fundamentalism: it's also about a sexist mode of its expression. To cast her essay solely in terms of religion would be to do her a disservice. That's one reason why you should go read it.
I have motivation for this other than liking Sealwhiskers's post, or the woman herself: I keep running into people who dislike LiveJournal because it seems very trivial to them. I think the problem is that LJ has something like 11 million users, and it's (mostly) free to use. It also has great threading for comments, and a great mechanism for enhanced levels of privacy among users. Sure, there are plenty of know-nothings there, but that's because the barrier to use is so low, and the platform is such a rich place in some ways to work. Dismissing all LJ users because of a large number of naive ones is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.