Are There Not-Crazy People in Psychiatric Wards?

Are There Not-Crazy People in Psychiatric Wards?

tumblr_mnhv0nCdxl1qicr8oo1_500Yesterday I was going through my site stats and stumbled across something I find both funny and sad: “has people been admitted to psych wards who weren’t crazy.” I’m flattered such a question brought the user to my blog, but I’m also saddened that psych wards are synonymous with

I’m not sure what crazy is. I mean, I think crazy is doing stupid stuff when you have your wits about you, like getting smashed drunk when you know you have no one to take you home, not getting smashed drunk when you’re so manic you don’t care. But had you seen me in the emergency room the first time I went to a psychiatric unit, you would have never thought there was anything crazy about me.

I was suicidal, but incredibly aware that I was, and I was voluntary.

My second psych stay, I was manic, and so you would have thought I was high on something, but I was still incredibly aware, still able to articulate my feelings to you, and was able to take control of the insane amounts of energy pouring from me. So it’s not like I was bouncing off the walls, harassing the doctors, and letting my lack of inhibitions take control.

You feel like you’re crazy when your mental breakdown culminates in a psychiatric stay, but you’re not. Most of the people you meet are people you’d find on the streets, sitting in coffee shops reading books, taking their kids out shopping, going on vacations–your average, everyday person. The “crazy” people aren’t in psychiatric units. They’re generally in state-run institutions where being drugged up is the only way to keep them docile. But even then some aren’t crazy–just very, very sick.

I didn’t meet a single crazy person in my stay. Just sick people who might have done crazy things to land them in the hospital. But they themselves were not crazy. They’re the most self-aware people I’ve ever met, most compassionate, kind-hearted people who really understand the human condition, so every person who goes to a psych unit generally isn’t crazy.

The majority of people who land in psychiatric units are often depressed. They either attempt suicide or are afraid they’re going to attempt suicide. Sometimes they’re admitted voluntarily, and sometimes involuntarily. Maybe the involuntary ones will put up a fight, but you generally don’t meet dangerous people in psychiatric wards. Dangerous people are generally put elsewhere.

So, to answer the above question, just about every person admitted to a psych ward is not crazy. Just sick.



12 thoughts on “Are There Not-Crazy People in Psychiatric Wards?

  1. I had to look up the actual definition of crazy when I read this. It’s definitely the negative word in mental health because the first definition is ‘mentally deranged’. Just sounds horrible and not like the reality where it’s (as you said) a sick person. A person who has no experience with psych wards or people with mental illness might default to the term crazy because they don’t know any better. I’ve wondered about the various words used to describe this stuff before. What would be the best term for a person to use if they’re not familiar with this type of stuff?

  2. I agree with you for the most part, but I also believe there are other factors to consider. My sister-in-law works in a psych ward at the local hospital and at least 60% of the patients there are what we’d consider “crazy”. The other portion are depressed like you said or have social illnesses. Of course they’re just ill people.. even schizophrenia is an illness, but I don’t know that I’d consider a schizo sane. I do live in a major city, and that may be some of the difference, I’m sure in a smaller town, most of who you’d find in a psych ward wouldn’t necessarily be “crazy”.

    1. I just don’t like the word “crazy” being put on people who are mentally ill. They’re simply sick. I met schizos at psych wards. I saw what schizophrenia does to them, but even I wouldn’t consider them crazy. It’s not fair to, especially when they can’t help it. Crazy has such a negative connotation, no matter who you apply it to.

      1. I think it depends on the person. I don’t consider “crazy” as negative so much as it means “unpredictable” and that’s some of where the fear comes in with mentally ill patience. They’re unpredictable and sometimes it’s hard to understand “why” they’re ill, and that scares people, but I don’t think it holds the same negative connotations it did say, a century ago, when people treated mental patients like they were contagious.

      2. But the problem is that it holds a negative connotation, and I don’t think it ever won’t. I apply crazy to sane people who do stupid things. I mean, I’ve never heard the word crazy used positively. Even my mom will apply it to mentally ill people at my outpatient psychiatric hospital, and it offends me because those people are sick. People with physical illnesses are allowed to complain and whine, but someone mentally ill who complains and whines is considered crazy, but they’re not because you can’t see the demons going on in their heads.

  3. It’s ironic you post this. Yesterday, I was just thinking about this issue. I completely agree with you, “crazy” is very negative and to me indicates people who have completely lost their heads (no longer aware of what’s around them). I told my mom that I wanted to volunteer at a psychiatric center, and her first response was, “Their crazy! You don’t know what they could do.” That might be true, but no matter where I go, there will be “crazy” people. I go to the supermarket and I could get shot by someone who just had a bad day. At least in the center, there is a controlled environment.. Anyway, I had a little argument with her trying to convince her their not crazy, and that the “crazy” ones she was thinking of, would be in a state institution.

    1. The crazy ones exist outside the institution, I’ve always thought because these are the people who lack understanding, who lack compassion, who lack any form of sympathy, that to label a sick person crazy is crazy in itself. Just because the pain isn’t physical doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there. I have every right to cry over being depressed as a person with a broken leg has a right to cry. If that makes me seem crazy because it’s difficult to articulate the immense sadness depression gives you, then that’s your problem, not mine.

      1. I completely agree with you, and that’s a good way to put it. When my mother said it, I was very hurt. I mean, I know, because people used to call me weird and crazy as a kid, it was annoying. When I said institution, I just meant that the people my mother was calling “crazy” were not in the center I wanted to work at. I by no means think people there are actually crazy. Just thought I’d make that known.. 😀 Anyway, thank you for writing this by the way!

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