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The World of Madness is Round
[ Next | Previous | Contents | The Call of Duty | The Enemy Within ]

This is an Incomplete Rough Draft.
Writing this book will require a year at the very least.
I value any comments you may have; send them to:
swift@softwareproblem.org

The World of Madness is Round:
an Essay for All Humanity

You're as mad as a cut snake, but at least you're an independent thinker.
-- my gold bling shines

Jonathan Swift
jon@soggywizards.com

April 5, 2010

The World of Madness
is Round

The Call of Duty

Concerning Theory

The Enemy Within

Concerning Application

Contents

Theoretical Background

I have recovered from what at one time was a severely debilitating mental illness.

My recovery was twenty-six long, hard, slow years in the making, but accellerated greatly starting last October, when Brian Lazara fired me from my contract programming job at Data Robotics of Santa Clara, California.

You see, Brian flipped out at me for not having done some work that no one ever asked me to do, then fired me after I protested that his anger problem had no place in my place of work. When I called for aid from Trisha Vavak of Oxford Global Resources, the agency that was my actual employer, she replied that I must be happy to not have to work anymore at a job I hated so much.

I will have to explain much later what I mean by the following: the two of them presented me, simultaneously, with what I refer to herein as The Metaphor of The Looking-Glass. Brian presented me with an image of myself when I flipped out with furious rage for reasons that never make sense to anyone. Trisha presented me with an image of my own hypocrisy.

I knew that such a precious opportunity might never come again; I hauled back my Metaphorical Fist and smashed Through The Looking-Glass, then stepped through the cracked and broken hole of my mind from the World of Madness I had, but for brief moments, always known, into the World of Sanity that I have some reason to believe, but for brief moments, I will know for the rest of my days.

In the nine months since I have exhibited what many often warn me are the craziest times I have ever exhibited. Only two people ever believed me that I was experiencing not The Symptoms of Madness, but The Symptoms of Healing from Madness. The kind of healing that I have experienced has been so incredibly painful that I have been at times suicidal, many times psychotic, a few times delusional, and one time threatened - falsely, but convincingly so - violence to such an extreme that I found myself repeatedly bound in heavy leather restraints.

I have some reason to believe that this most recent event might be my last psychiatric inpatient admission for the rest of my life.

The two people who believed me were both uncommonly insightful and empathetic women. One was my therapist Dr. I., the other was an old and dear friend, one to whom I owe the world as she often sets me straight when I Wander from the Straight and Narrow.

Now, I have recovered but I have not been cured. Much like an alcoholic who has sworn off drinking forever, I will for the rest of the days be a Recovering Madman, not a Recovered Madman. There is no Twelve Step Program for folks like me, but I have a pretty good idea what I need to do to stay well.

You might wonder about the wisdom of broadcasting my Madness in such a public way. It happens that I registered the Solving the Software Problem's domain name the morning I prepared to loudly resign from my wonderful job at Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications in Redwood Shores, California. That was a contract job too, but I wasn't fired. I decided to Make A Statement of my resignation in hopes of getting Manpower Professional removed from Sony Ericsson's Approved Vendor List. They couldn't figure out how to cut me a paycheck you see.

I'd been contemplating the domain for some time, but finally registered it so I could include my new site in the letter of resignation I copied to about three hundred of my coworkers. I'd say that it's a safe bet that they all know that I'm mentally ill by now.

But do I worry? No, not at all. In the words of the immortal J.R. "Bob" Dobbs:

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

If you think being unemployed is a problem, just try being so crazy that you try - but fail - to photograph your Heaven-Sent Visions in the Sky with an expensive SLR camera!

From time to time my friends try to warn me that my latest writing is delusional. No one ever believes me that I was stone-cold sober when I wrote every last word of it. But I consider the apparently-delusional stuff my very best writing of all, because I wrote that for the express purpose of conveying to the sane what insanity really is all about.

My good friend Empedocles had the idea he could make fun of me by comparing Solving the Software Problem to the well-known Internet crank website Time Cube, which promotes the Webmaster's thesis that time is cubical in form. Make fun indeed: I see rather that my work is going very well. The bit Empedocles quotes about my having the delusion of being the Second Coming of Jesus Christ quite conveniently happens to be the central theme of The World of Madness is Round.

I once got myself 5150ed by showing just the first page of My Deepest Fear to my therapist. She didn't even read the whole essay - she took one look at the vivid account of Officer Assisted Suicide that immediately follows the intro, then rang up my Psychiatrist. In the State of California, psychotherapists can't 5150 anyone you see: one needs either an M.D. physician - such as a Psychiatrist - or a law enforcement officer to do that.

Just the same: I was stone-cold sober and clearheaded when I wrote "My Deepest Fear". It sounds just like a paranoid manifesto because I wanted to convey the feeling of and not just the conceptual understanding of paranoia.

I wrote "My Deepest Fear" precisely the way I did because I had the hope that reading it would make sane people experience, but for a moment, the very same paranoia I was cursed with for more than two decades.

From time to time I have the delusion of being the Buddha as well.

I drove ninety miles an hour all the way from Santa Cruz to Palo Alto last November because I was well on my way to putting David Koresh completely to shame. Dominican Hospital in Soquel was much closer, but I knew Stanford would have a twenty-four hour psychiatrist on call in Emergency.

The agreed to admit me, but only because I had the delusion I could be like Koresh. The refused to discharge me a week later because I claimed to have the ability to stop a schizophrenic's hallucinations just by talking to him. They - Stanford Medical Center mind you - discharged me the very next day because I pointed out that I needed to get a job.

Child psychologist Alice Miller wrote in her 1979 book The Drama of the Gifted Child that some parents suffer so terribly and in such a way that they bring up their infant children not in a way that develops their own unique and personal identities, but in ways that eases the parents' horrible suffering.

Such psychotherapist infants often become psychotherapists as adults. That's why Dr. I. was completely overcome with grief at my mere mention of the book. "I cried all the way through it," she replied.

It is only during a specialized form of Psychotherapy known as Training Analysis that prospective therapists undergo during their graduate studies that they finally come to understand why they found Psych 101 so fascinating - and so easy to grasp - as undergraduates.

All I personally required to send me hurtling headlong into twenty-six years of the most irretrievably batshit kind of insanity was to read just the first chapter of that book - "How We Become Psychotherapists" - and then discuss it with the one session of Psych 101 that I ever managed to attend at Caltech in the Fall of 1984.

I obtained my very first psychiatric inpatient admission about three days later.

A few days after my discharge from that hospitalization I borrowed my friend's expensive SLR camera so I could photograph my Heaven-sent Visions in the Sky. When the Visions didn't turn up in my prints, I knew it was due to my inexperience as a photographer, so I purchased some profesional photography texts and learned to develop and print my own film in the Caltech student darkroom.

Two months later I could leave the most advanced professional photographer completely dumbstruck with the most primitive kind of fully-manual camera. Every pro regards the Pentax K-1000 with nostalgic reverence, but no pros ever actually use K-1000s for their work. My first K-1000 didn't even have a light meter. The Sony Cybershot DSC-H50 digital camera I have now could win an aerial dogfight just by pointing it out your fighter plane's cockpit canopy. I set it to fully manual mode when I first opened the box and have yet to open the instruction book.

Strangely though, twenty-six years later my visions have yet to appear in my prints.

It was just a couple months ago that I finally worked up the courage to read that chapter for a second time. I expect I'll read the rest of The Drama of the Gifted Child someday, but I don't know yet when that day will be that I finally have the nerve to do so.

Just thinking about what the rest of Dr. Miller's book might hold for me scares me totally shitless.

It's for this reason that I often point out that the wise psychotherapist does well not to Reveal The Truth too soon. To Reveal The Truth too soon might lead the neurotic to simply disregard the therapist's advice, disbelieve her, regard her as delusional, fly into a rage, commit suicide, become insane or murder someone.

But what if The Truth is but one week's classroom discussion of just one chapter of a highly regarded child psychology book?

I don't remember anything of what I actually said during our discussion, but I do remember that I totally dominated the class period. Everyone, including our instructor - a practicing psychotherapist - repeatedly commented on how insightful I was about that one chapter which happened to be the very first reading on the topic of psychology I had ever attempted in my entire life.

I was puzzled, at the end of class, when the instructor look straight across our conference table at the opposite wall of the room, bent his rather muscular arm at an angle, flexed his muscles enough to demonstrate he devoted lots of time to the gym, held his left hand over his right forearm, clenched his mucles even tighter then said calmly and quite obliquely:

If anyone would like to speak to me after class, please come up to my office.

Many years passed before I finally realized he was begging me to come speak to him. For him to have come right out and pinned me down at that point though, in my understanding would have been a gross violation of his professional ethics.

It could be argued that I would have done well to have taken him up on his offer. Sometimes I jokingly say that to have done so would have meant that I wouldn't have become such a gifted photographer. More seriously, I will say now that I did well to suffer the way I did. Despite two narrow brushes with death by my own hand and a twenty-six year train wreck of an adult life, I feel that I got something out of my decision - and unconscious decision, but a decision nevertheless - to go right ahead and go insane.

The result is that I learned a few things, things that could ease the great suffering of many others.

The very first of those things that I aim to pass on to others in this Theoretical Introduction you are reading right now. The next things follow in a metaphorical way in the rest of The World of Madness of Round. These follow in a lucid, explicit but simplified way in The Crawfordian Psychoanalysis Manifesto, which is meant to be accessible to just about everyone. All these same concepts follow in a similarly lucid and explicit but far more detailed and scholarly way in Crawfordian Psychoanalysis, a Textbook for Mental Health Professionals.

Those who know me from the Internet often claim I am a braggart. Those who know me In The Flesh find this surprising, because in reality I am so mild-mannered and soft-spoken as to leave them wondering whether I have any vital signs at all. What some mistake for Grandiosity is the simple Flambouyance that I have found effective for marketing my various websites. Even my worst enemies know how to spell my name correctly. More importantly, they know how to link to my various websites correctly.

My ability to make schizophrenics stop hallucinating just by talking to them has a lot to do with the overpowering nature of my experience during that fateful classroom discussion.

It also has a lot to do with another overpowering experience I had just before that event, one which I haven't spoken of much before, but have started to a little bit in my book, and intend to speak about a great deal more as time progresses:

I joined the Human Potential Movement during the Summer of 1984 by enrolling in The Lifespring Course in Los Angeles. I got quite a lot out of what my friends and I jokingly called The Cult Course, so much so that after taking the Basic Course, I enrolled in the Advanced Course, followed by the Leadership Program, during which I enrolled three of my fellow Caltech students.

Lifespring was a competitor to the more well-known EST and was very similar to it. We also referred to it as a "Gentler EST" in that Lifespring wasn't at all brutal in the way EST so notoriously was.

But the downfall of the Human Potential Movement was the reason for its very success: once having had the benefit of its courses, it wasn't content just to leave one be, one had to enroll everyone else one knew as well.

This led to the Lifespring staff placing tremendous pressure to perform upon those of us in the Leadership Program. The courses cost a lot of money; all of my fellow students that I enrolled paid for their courses either from their Summer jobs, or by taking the fee from the money their parents gave them for school. I had no clue that would happen or I might well not have enrolled in the Leadership Program at all.

The ultimate downfall of the Human Potential Movement grew out of all the personal injury lawsuits from the many who were irretrievably driven insane as a result of this massive cluster fuck. I happened to look Lifespring up on Google a while back. Unable to find its website, I looked it up in Wikipedia. The article there makes it clear that Lifespring has for a long time now been a thing of the past.

I had an early interest in Millenarian Movements from having contemplated how Adolf Hitler managed to pull off the Holocaust. For that reason, I already understood in a general way what had transpired when Jim Jones convinced nine hundred of his Jonestown, Guyana followers to drink Cyanide-laced Grape Kool-Ade on November 18, 1978, when I was in high school.

It was during Lifespring that I learned how I could pull that very same Cyanide Kool-Ade stunt myself if I were to ever try. That's why I am so emphatic about hospitalizing myself whenever I notice that I am starting to develop followers. And I really do develop followers from time to time.

My first page about my mental illness wasn't really written to tell you about me or my mental illness at all. I only used myself as an illustrative example to explain another Millenarian Movement, which by 1997 I understood all too well: the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate UFO Cult in San Diego.

The world recoiled in horror at what could possibly have led thirty-two talented web designers to eat Phenobarbital-laced applesauce and pudding with such enthusiasm that they all bought brand-new sneakers so as to be properly dressed for the occasion.

But I myself recoiled in an even worse kind of horror, because I understood precisely how that phenomenon actually worked. I was once very private about my mental illness, but from that moment on blasted news of my Madness all over every corner of the Internet:

Reality Is Not The Concrete, Immoveable Foundation You Make It Out To Be.

Listen carefully. I had to go to Hell and back to bring you this crucially important message. I don't want to have to say it twice:

The most dangerous symptom of psychosis is not violence but delusion.

When one is delusional, the sane - completely unaware that they are doing so - begin to participate, not just willingly but actually enthusiastically in one's delusion.

I would say that my ability to do stuff like make schizophrenics stop hallucinating comes from this triple dose of Head Medicine: having been such a Gifted Child myself, taking all three components of the Lifespring Course, then immediately afterwards reading and discussing The Drama of the Gifted Child in such an abrupt and unexpected way.

To understand how The Drama of the Gifted Child applies to me, consider the fact that my maternal grandfather Rex Speelmon - an uncommonly gifted man - died when my mother was just seven years old.

Kennedy was assassinated during the sixth month of my gestation.

The telegram with news of my birth took two weeks two reach my father, because he was so far out in the Philippine rainforest learning to make Hearts of Palm Salad with his bayonet as part of the jungle survival training he received for the upcoming Vietnam War.

My father's first love was not at all Electrical Engineering, it was Chemistry. But he voluntarily withdrew from his very first term as a Chem student at UC Berkeley. It was clear to him even then that he would flunk out, as he spent all his time partying with the UC Berkeley Marching Band. My father's passion for music put my own completely to shame, you see.

My father only joined the Navy after he got sick to death of carpentry. An enlisted man at first, the Navy instantly recognized my father's great brilliance and so sent him to the University of Idaho to study Electrical Engineering so he would know how to work on antiaircraft missiles. After graduation, my father went on to Officer Candidate School; he received his officer's commission after OCS graduation.

Just about all of his work with the Navy as a commissioned officer had to do with antiaircraft missiles in one way or another. His service in Vietnam largely involved using them to slay North Vietnamese fighter pilots.

Sigmund Freud developed Psychoanalysis to ease the great suffering of the mentally ill. He also developed Self-Analysis to ease his own great suffering, as he was an Austrian Jew who lived at the height of Germanic Antisemitism.

My own obsessive introspective writing happens to be a particularly effective way to conduct Self-Analysis; I started doing it off and on all the way back in 1980, but only stumbled across that fact in a conscious and explicit way when I wrote the last section of "I Have So Many Questions About Music" in January 2005:

What ultimately led Bonita to divorce me was my furious anger her complete refusal to believe that my obsessive writing held the only real hope I would ever have of regaining my sanity. You see, she believed that she herself was the one who kept me sane. Bonita did make it easier on me to make it through the hard times, but she was no Psychoanalyst.

I have written mountains of introspective material over the years. Even my purely technical tips at GoingWare are, in reality, introspections on my own work as a software engineer.

But among all of my writings as well as my experiences, I am easily able to see a few - just a few - key steps in my recovery from Madness.

Sigmund Freud explained paranoia as the experience of psychological projection. Paranoids project onto others their own unwanted or unacceptable thoughts and feelings, in such a way that they see others as experiencing what they really feel about themselves. It is for that reason that it is said:

We hate the most in others that which we hate the most in ourselves.

Alice Miller demonstrates in For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence that Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, World War II and the Holocaust actually had nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of antisemitism.

No, all those were, in reality, due to the great love that the young Adolf Schickelgruber had for his father Alois Hitler.

The elder Herr Hitler, you see, beat young Adolf savagely absolutely every time he could lay his hands on him. Dr. Miller wrote this second book in hopes that she might bring such "enlightened" methods of child-rearing to a well-deserved end. But Herr Hitler knew that the best way to bring a Young Austrian Boy up to be a proud, strong Austrian Man was to beat Young Austrian Boys savagely every time he could lay his hands on them.

Adolf loved his father so that he was unable to express his rage and sorrow at his undeserved suffering. So instead he got that same rage and sorrow all over his completely undeserving Jewish neighbors.

The Holy Grail in my own recovery came when I simultaneously explained - to myself - Freudian projection and Jungian archetypes to myself in the second-to-last section of "My Deepest Fear". Completely unexpectedly and completely out of nowhere, "The Thought Police Academy" points out that psychotics aren't actually delusional or in any way mistaken.

No, we see metaphors for reality, but we experience such metaphors themselves as objective reality.

That, in a nutshell, is my understanding of the Jungian concept of psychological projection. What I refer to as a metaphor, Jungian referred to as an archetype.

My understandian of Jungian archetypes grew entirely out of the one session that I ever had with Psychotherapist Andrea Shields of Running Springs, California, near where I had a summer job at Caltech's Big Bear Solar Observatory. That was in late June, 1985. I never attended any more sessions with Andrea because I managed to get myself arrested as a result of being the most manic and psychotic I have ever been in my whole life.

Most of those Heaven-Sent Visions in the Sky were Yin-Yang Symbols. They weren't always drawn in the sky the way Taoists draw them; mine were often recursive - with smaller Yin-Yangs for the spots - and were often spinning.

Andrea suggested the Yin-Yang could be some kind of important metaphor for me. When I mentioned this to Psychobiology student Timothy Dreszer when I returned to UC Santa Cruz that Fall, he suggested that Andrea must have been a Jungian Psychotherapist. He just said that Jung was heavily into stuff like metaphors.

(I still owe Andrea sixty dollars as I forgot to bring my checkbook to our session. Happily, a friend managed to turn up Andrea's postal address for me recently. Andrea is finally getting her sixty bucks after all these years, One Hell of a Thank-You card, and a hardcopy of this book.)

I learned much later that Jung referred to these as Archetypes. Loosely speaking, they are metaphors that are significant either to an individual's psychology - as in my Recursive Yin-Yangs - to a culture's psychology - as the traditional Taoist Yin-Yang - or to all of humanity, for example what I refer to as The Metaphor of Doomsday.

I knew the very instant I wrote that section in September 2006 that my sanity would soon follow. It was about a week later that I got so pissed off at Bonita for refusing to listen to me that she wound up divorcing me.

But it took me a long time to come to this conclusion: by divorcing me, Bonita did us both a favor.

I Still Love Bonita With All My Heart, But My God That Woman Was Hard On Me.

I hardly knew a moment of peace the whole time Bonita and I were together. It was my short, mad, passionate love of the woman I call Enigma in 2008 that finally enabled me to understand that I could have no hope for any peace of mind if Bonita and I were ever to rejoin.

Out of concern for Bonita's privacy, I will have to leave the reason she tormented me so as an exercise for the reader.

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The World of Madness is Round

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