Monday, December 17, 2012

Tinfoil Hats

Terri laughingly mentioned tinfoil hats, which reminded me of a bit of mental health knowledge you might find useful someday.  I knew some guys who lined their hats with foil, years ago.  It comes from the belief that someone was trying to broadcast radio waves into their heads, so they would line their hats as some protection.

They heard voices, and the mind seeks explanation – cannot rest until it has an explanation, in fact.  We are an explaining species.  We don’t tolerate things that just happen for no apparent reason.  These days, it’s not radio waves, it’s implanted chips.  Before that, it was electronic signals from computers, and before that, from satellites.  Who is doing the tormenting also varies with the times.  Family members are always good nominees of course, but Russians, the CIA, the Mafia, the military, or obscurer organizations have all had their days of popularity – precisely when they were popular in the culture at large.

When I was young there was still the cartoon trope of delusional people who thought they were Napoleon.  The French were among the first to observe the mentally ill closely, especially in the early 19th C.  See Marat-Sade, for example. Thinking one was Napoleon, in that context, likely referred to grandiosity – what we once called manic and now more precisely call BPAD  No one thinks they are Napoleon these days. He’s long dead and French – where’s the grandness of that?

As with regular folk scrambling for solutions when tragedy occurs, the mentally ill latch on to whatever raw material is around them for their explanations.  Theirs are just more obviously inaccurate.


Sam L. said...

And the worst of it is, you can't get good tin foil these days. Nuthin but this cheap aluminum junk, unless, maybe, you import that high class aluminium from Canada or the UK.

That's what I do.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

On my Christmas list this year is a 6-pack of tinfoil hats - assorted colors of course.