Created By: JohnDiFoolNovember 16, 2010 Last Edited By: JohnDiFoolAugust 12, 2011
Troped

CrazySane

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Delirium: "His madness... His madness keeps him sane."
Dream: "And do you think he is the only one, my sister?"
-- Sandman #31

Sometimes the world you find yourself in is so grim or stressful, if not horrific, that the only way to keep from going crazy is to..well, go crazy. You thus end up acting in silly, if not bizarre, ways, just to keep from truly losing it for good due to all the horror and depression and genuine Lunacy surrounding you.

Often a staple of wartime environments and the resultant Black Comedy which often transpires, where the psychological demands of having to deal with death and suffering on a daily basis requires pretty extreme measures to retain one's grip on reality. Compare Bored With Insanity. Contrast with the so-called "Catch 22" situation, where going crazy is conclusive evidence that you're sane enough to stay on the job.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Comics]]

  • The quote comes from the Sandman series, describing Emperor Norton of San Francisco (see Real Life below).
  • Batman: Some interpretations of The Joker depict him as "super-sane" rather than crazy: he sees how ridiculous and mixed-up the world is, and the only way for him to deal with it is by treating it as one big joke.
    • Batman himself may also be a prime example. Grant Morrison has said in interviews that this is how he views Batman: "I never really subscribed to the idea that Bruce was insane or unhealthy. Bruce Wayne would have gone mad if he HADN'T dressed as a bat and found a startling way to channel the grief, guilt and helplessness he felt after the death of his parents. Without Batman, Bruce would be truly screwed-up."
  • The Comedian from Watchmen dealt with the terrible things he saw and did by seeing the world as a huge joke.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

  • M*A*S*H is an obvious example, with Hawkeye and Trapper being the most prominent in the film version.
  • Private Handjob gets discharged from the Marines in Full Metal Jacket for compulsive masturbation.
  • In Zombie Land, Tallahassee suggests the gang smash everything in a store in order to keep from going crazy.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]

  • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Wonko the Sane makes his house an inside-out "Outside the Asylum" (the rest of the world is "Inside the Asylum").
    • In another one of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy books after being stranded for far too long on a primitive planet, Arthur Dent finally announces to the world "I shall go mad!"...just before a flying sofa carrying Ford Prefect tootles past his view. Ford has gone insane to keep from going insane with boredom. He convinces himself that he's a lemon and spends some time jumping in and out of a lake that thinks it's a gin and tonic (at least, he thinks it thought it was).
  • The Duck Man in the Discworld series has suffered many setbacks in his life, some of which we've seen and some of which remain mysterious, and through it all he's remained intelligent, cultured and a wellspring of good sense -- except that he is never seen without a duck on his head, the existence of which he denies if anybody ever asks about it.
  • In Brain Twister by Randall Garrett and Laurence Janifer, most people with a particular mental condition are catatonic or gibbering wrecks. The one known exception is Miss Thompson, who is not only compos mentis, she's arguably the sanest and most sensible character in the book -- except that she's unshakeably convinced that she's a 400-year-old immortal who used to be Queen Elizabeth I.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

  • M*A*S*H follows directly in the movie's footsteps, practiced by several characters throughout the series' run, most notoriously by Klinger (who wasn't in the film).
    • Dr. Sidney Freedman specifically said this about Hawkeye:
      • "Anger turned inwards is depression. Anger turned sideways... is Hawkeye."
    • In one ep., a fellow soldier eats Klinger's heart out by being sent home for making sock puppets and talking to them.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theatre]]

In Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (a one-woman show performed by Lily Tomlin).

Trudy: But I don't ever want to sound negative about going crazy. I don't want to overromanticize it either, but frankly, goin' crazy was the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't say it's for everybody; some people couldn't cope.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

  • Joshua Abraham Norton of San Francisco, who proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States in the mid-1800's. While his proclamations, such as to dissolve Congress, were ignored by those in power, the good citizens of San Francisco humored him, often using his own money script as valid tender locally.

[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • November 16, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    Help with the tags is mucho appreciated, as this is my 1st YKTTW...
  • November 16, 2010
    Smartyarse
    In Zombieland Tallahassee suggests the gang smash everything in a store in order to stay from going crazy.
  • November 16, 2010
    TBTabby
    Some interpretations of The Joker depict him as "super-sane" rather than crazy: he sees how ridiculous and mixed-up the world is, and the only way for him to deal with it is by treating it as one big joke.
  • November 16, 2010
    Bulldogg6404
    This Awkward Zombie comic strip.
  • November 16, 2010
    rodneyAnonymous
    (Literature) In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Wonko the Sane makes his house an inside-out "Outside the Asylum" (the rest of the world is "Inside the Asylum").
  • November 17, 2010
    Stratadrake
    Crazy Sane would probably work better. Same point fewer words.
  • November 17, 2010
    randomsurfer
    MASH specifically said this about Hawkeye, from Dr. Sidney Freedman.
    Anger turned inwards is depression. Anger turned sideways... is Hawkeye.
    And from Hawk:
    We have to go crazy once in a while to keep from going crazy!
  • November 17, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    Thanks for the contribs. How do I get _one word_ tropes to work in the double brackets, when I use a different phrase or word to describe it?
  • November 17, 2010
    Bulldogg6404
    [[{{TropeName}} describing word or words]]
  • November 17, 2010
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Recently cited as the reason Ben acted annoying in Ben 10 in Ultimate Alien, via time travel.

    I'm sure I've seen it elsewhere like Spider Man though.
  • November 17, 2010
    Cidolfas
    In another one of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy books (or was it the same one?) after being stranded for far too long on a primitive planet, Arthur Dent finally announces to the world "I shall go mad!"... just before a flying sofa carrying Ford Prefect tootles past his view...
  • November 17, 2010
    Earnest
    Compare Bored With Insanity.

    Possible page quote:
    Delirium: "His madness... His madness keeps him sane."
    Dream: "And do you think he is the only one, my sister?"
    -- Sandman #31
  • November 17, 2010
    dotchan
    Mythology nit on the Odysseus example--I'm pretty sure the "child in front of an plow" thing is how they found him out, actually. They put his own son in the path of the plow, and Odysseus veered away, proving that he was sane.
  • November 17, 2010
    Duncan
    (theatre) In Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (a one-woman show performed by Lily Tomlin).
    Trudy: But I don't ever want to sound negative about going crazy. I don't want to overromanticize it either, but frankly, goin' crazy was the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't say it's for everybody; some people couldn't cope.
  • November 18, 2010
    bluepenguin
    The second Hitchhiker's Guide example is from Life, the Universe, and Everything. Actually, I'm not sure Arthur is the example there; he says "I shall go mad!" but he doesn't actually do it. Ford is the one who goes insane to keep from going insane with boredom. He convinces himself that he's a lemon and spends some time jumping in and out of a lake that thinks it's a gin and tonic (at least, he thinks it thought it was).
  • November 18, 2010
    DougSMachina
    The Comedian from Watchmen dealt with the terrible things he saw and did by seeing the world as a huge joke.
  • November 18, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    The Hitchhiker aficionados can clean up that last entry-likewise with the Oddyseus one.
  • November 19, 2010
    PaulA
    • Grant Morrison has said in interviews that this is how he views Batman: "I never really subscribed to the idea that Bruce was insane or unhealthy. Bruce Wayne would have gone mad if he HADN'T dressed as a bat and found a startling way to channel the grief, guilt and helplessness he felt after the death of his parents. Without Batman, Bruce would be truly screwed-up."
    • The Duck Man in the Discworld series has suffered many setbacks in his life, some of which we've seen and some of which remain mysterious, and through it all he's remained intelligent, cultured and a wellspring of good sense -- except that he is never seen without a duck on his head, the existence of which he denies if anybody ever asks about it.
    • In Brain Twister by Randall Garrett and Laurence Janifer, most people with a particular mental condition are catatonic or gibbering wrecks. The one known exception is Miss Thompson, who is not only compos mentis, she's arguably the sanest and most sensible character in the book -- except that she's unshakeably convinced that she's a 400-year-old immortal who used to be Queen Elizabeth I.
  • November 19, 2010
    rodneyAnonymous
    Second Crazy Sane
  • November 19, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    My only reason for keeping the original title is that it implies a process, while the proposed revision suggests a static situation.

    Thanks for the 3 adds Paul A, putting them in now...
  • November 19, 2010
    rodneyAnonymous
    So this is about a process that is happening (or a character that is undergoing this process) in the present, but not a process that already happened (or a character that has undergone this process) in the past?

    ...that is way too fine a distinction, and the name Crazy Sane is 84.6% snappier than Going Crazy To Stay Sane.
  • November 19, 2010
    Tuomas
    Even if this is invoked in the Sandman story about him, I fail to see how the real life Emperor Norton is an example. Maybe he just was a "regular" crazy person, and not someone who went crazy "to keep from truly losing it for good due to all the horror and depression and genuine lunacy surrounding him"? It's not like Neil Gaiman saw inside his head.

  • November 20, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    Well, it can be both I guess.

    Well, that's the only real life example that I can think of-Norton would seem to have all the markers. You could say the same about many of the other examples.

    Bumping, will think about launching by the end of the weekend.
  • November 20, 2010
    PaleHorse87
    I like the concept behind this trope, but I think some of the examples are wandering a bit far from the description.

    The Odysseus example looks more like Obfuscating Insanity than it does doing something crazy to keep himself sane. The Joshua Norton example, frankly I don't see how he was doing crazy things to stay sane. Which isn't to say it isn't an example, but the description used suggests to me that he actually WAS crazy, rather than acting it to keep his sanity.
  • November 20, 2010
    Speedball
    Truth In Television: Psychological coping methods keep you from breaking down completely. This is the origin of, for example, dissasociative identity disorder: taking on another identity to spare yourself the mental trauma of a horrible event.
  • November 20, 2010
    Erock
    Only Crazy Man?
  • November 20, 2010
    Mozgwsloiku
    In D&D Planescape, all the people living in Pandemonium have various mental disorders, often in a form of weird but relatively harmless quirks. All the symptoms disappear if they leave the place and return once they come back. Since pandemonium is a literally infinite labirynth of caves with no up or down (every surface becomes the floor)and no natural light, filled with constant howling of wind that can be only really be muted by rendering yourself deaf, these can really be considered mild symptoms.
  • November 20, 2010
    JohnDiFool
    Changing title to suggested, mainly because it will be easier to type it as a link.

    And Pale Horse 87 is correct about Odysseus, that gets deleted. Guess if there are too many objections this can have a "subjective" tag plopped on it; it is true that it is problematic to gaze into another's soul and divine their true self, motivations, etc., but that doesn't stop people from speculating anyway in innumerable trope pages.
  • November 20, 2010
    Taeraresh
    Going from the Sandman quote, it could just be 'His Madness Keeps Him Sane'.
  • November 22, 2010
    rosebudmelissa
    It eventually becomes clear that this trope is the reason why the Ouran High School Host Club was formed.
  • November 26, 2010
    senefen
    Web Original: Cain from Vampire Quest.
  • December 5, 2010
    Weaver
    Anyone else think this is ready to launch?
  • December 6, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    I'm not sure if this is an example (mostly because I have no idea what it's actually about), but I'm reminded of the song "Crazy" by Seal, with the refrain, "We're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy."
  • December 6, 2010
    Weaver
    An example and possible page quote from the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison: "The box had done to him what Sweet Home had not; Drove him crazy so he wouldn't lose his mind.
  • January 17, 2011
    PaulA
    So, are you going to launch this, or what?
  • January 17, 2011
    Arivne
    @John Di Fool/OP: Is this Up For Grabs?
  • April 3, 2011
    PaulA
    So, are you going to launch this, or what?
  • April 3, 2011
    cocoy0
    I think Real Life doesn't belong in this trope, with a lot of potential Your Mileage May Vary situations. Evidence will be hard to provide. Better stick to fiction.
  • August 12, 2011
    regresal
    bumped
  • August 12, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    I feel this is tropable. I would add Contrast: Only Sane Man, when trying to come up with examples I kept coming back to the wrong trope.

    You can have some fun with the name too, some of the other tropers provided some good ones, and I'll throw in Just Crazy Enough To Cope. Though that's not to say the current one works.

    The Shivering Isles expansion of The Elder Scrolls Four is made of this. The demon god of insanity has his own personal realm of madness, and opens the door between his world and the real one for various purposes. Common side effects of tourism are insanity and death. Those are the only side effects, and you WILL get side effects.

    I'm not sure how well this applies, I think I'm most likely wrong on this one. In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the detestable world the series inhabits has a tremendous toll on the girls' psyches. Homura becomes detached, distant, single-minded, and starts taking on Vulcan traits to cope; Sayaka forfeits self-control and falls into depression, Mami normally dies before succumbing to breakdown, but in the alternate timelines where this doesn't happen, she breaks down and attempts murder-suicide.

    Still not sure if that qualifies, Up for grabs if someone wants to make it work, YMMV if you think it doesn't.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable