The humor of schizophrenia

Okay, so people in the trenches don’t find schizophrenia so funny. Anybody who thinks it’s funny must be really sick, right? My minister, for example, cringes when I use the term “loony bin” to talk about Chris’s recent incarceration. I also like the words “bin” and “nuts”. They help me keep things in perspective.

The humor doesn’t come from the situation, as such, but from what takes place all around it. Take Chris’s psychiatrists. The male ones. I have had a huge crush on all of them. Me, a happily married woman pushing sixty who could be their mother. I think this is hysterical, especially since they all seem so personally dull. The attraction of their supposed power over someone’s mind is a turn-on for me!

Then there’s Dr. House. There is an episode in the eponymous television series where Dr House thinks a woman is genuinely schizophrenic. Although she isn’t his patient, he shows up at her bedside to read from William Butler Yeats’ poetry, and hangs onto her every utterance because he believes that she, like most schizophrenics, is really profound. He drops her like a hot potatoe when it turns out she has Wilson’s disease, and therefore isn’t “really” schizophrenic in his opinion. Now that’s funny! (Side note: Wilson’s disease is caused from dangerously high levels of copper in the body.)

Recently my husband and I had to plead our case that Chris needed to be committed to the loony bin. He was becoming quite paranoid, especially with regard to people of a darker hue and people affiliated with certain religious groups. We didn’t commit him because he was paranoid. We committed him because we were exhausted by his ups and downs. “I don’t like you much,” he said to the dark skinned intake psychiatrist. “Well, given that you don’t even know me, what exactly is it that you don’t like about me?” he pointedly asked Chris, knowing, of course, what was really at the heart of Chris’s statement. The psychiatrist whipped out a pink form, ticking all the necessary boxes: “Danger to himself and others”, “obvious symptoms” and “not able to be accommodated elsewhere”. He handed the form to Chris with a satisfied grin on his face. I thought that was very funny even at the time.

Chris has a good one. A young man was brought to the asylum where Chris is currently a patron. He was not only nuts, he had also committed a crime. After a day in the bin, he was offered a choice, prison or the bin. He chose prison. Now that’s funny!