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quotations about insanity

Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.

We are all born mad. Some remain so.

SAMUEL BECKETT, Waiting for Godot

There is a pleasure sure,
In being mad, which none but madmen know!

JOHN DRYDEN, The Spanish Friar

Great wits are sure to madness near allied;
And thin partitions do their bonds divide.

JOHN DRYDEN, Absalom and Achitophel

A sane man often reasons from sound premises; an insane man commonly reasons as well, but the premises are unsound.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of the week.

WILLIAM DEMENT, Newsweek, Nov. 30, 1959

When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

MARK TWAIN, Mark Twain's Notebook

There's a pleasure sure, in being mad,
Which none but mad-men know.

GEORGE FARQUHAR, The Recruiting Officer

There are so many kinds of madness, so many ways in which the human brain may go wrong; and so often it happens that what we call madness is both reasonable and just. It is so. Yes. A little reason is good for us, a little more makes wise men of some of us--but when our reason over-grows us and we reach too far, something breaks and we go insane.

JAMES OLIVER CURWOOD, "The Case of Beauvais," Back to God's Country and Other Stories

It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.


We're all a little wacko sometimes, and if we think we're not, maybe we are more than we know.

MARIAH CAREY, Larry King Live, Dec. 19, 2002

Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.

GEORGE ORWELL, Nineteen Eighty-Four

For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.

JEAN DEBUFFET, New Yorker, Jun 16, 1973

The sanity of society is a balance of a thousand insanities.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Nominalist and Realist," Essays

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


If we lose our sanity ...
We can but howl the lugubrious howl of idiots,
the howl of the utterly lost
howling their nowhereness.

D.H. LAWRENCE, "At Last"

Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence— whether much that is glorious— whether all that is profound— does not spring from disease of thought— from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.


Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.

I don't know what it is with the mad, but they've certainly got force of will. Maybe it's not having the checks and balances the rest of us have, or perhaps I'm kidding myself: maybe their minds are simply clearer, unclouded with the anxieties and morality that the rest of us are swaddled with. Perhaps they have the courage to point their magical thinking at the stars.


I have seen mad people, and I have known some who were quite intelligent, lucid, even clear-sighted in every concern of life, except on one point. They could speak clearly, readily, profoundly on everything; till their thoughts were caught in the breakers of their delusions and went to pieces there, were dispersed and swamped in that furious and terrible sea of fogs and squalls which is called MADNESS.


You should humor crazy people when you're at their mercy.

LAURELL K. HAMILTON, Narcissus in Chains

It's hard to guess what a lunatic will do next.


At one time people conveniently "went mad" and were never heard from again. Like a character in a romantic novel. But now ... you are too hip to yourself on a psychological level. You all are too intimate with too many of the symptoms of insanity to be caught completely off your guard.

KEN KESEY, Sometimes a Great Notion

Insanity is contagious.


If the majority are insane, the sane must go to the hospital.


No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

I guess if everybody went crazy together nobody would notice.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, Cities of the Plain

The distinction between sanity and insanity is narrower than the razor's edge, sharper than a hound's tooth, more agile than a mule deer. It is more elusive than the merest phantom. Perhaps it does not even exist; perhaps it is a phantom.


The real difference between men is not sanity and insantiy, but more or less insanity.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.


The lunatic's visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact.

WILLIAM JAMES, Lectures VI and VII, "The Sick Soul," The Varieties of Religious Experience

When you live in the shadow of insanity, the appearance of another mind that thinks and talks as yours does is something close to a blessed event. Like Robinson Crusoe's discovery of footprints on the sand.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.


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