The anarchy of mad words

The following quote is from p29 of Veronika Decides to Die (ISBN 0722540442) by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.

It tells the story of a young woman who, after a failed suicide attempt, is admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she meets some curious and life-changing patients and medical staff.

Paulo Coelho was admitted to a psychiatric hospital himself when a student, and he drew on his own experiences to write the novel.

Veronika returned to her bed, and waited for the nurse to resume her reading. What did it mean to be mad? She hadn’t the slightest idea, because the word was used in a completely anarchic way: people would say, for example, that certain sportsmen were mad because they wanted to break records, or artists were mad, because they led such strange insecure lives, different from the lives of normal people. On the other hand, Veronika had seen thinly clad people walking the streets of Ljubljana in winter, pushing supermarket trolleys full of plastic bags and rags, and proclaiming the end of the world… What did it mean to be mad? Perhaps she should ask one of the mad.

Link to more info on the book.

2 thoughts on “The anarchy of mad words”

  1. Ah yes, pleasant memories of talking to a random Swedish woman on a flight from Scotland to Sweden — she recommended that book to me. I recall that in addition to musings about what it means to have mental health problems, there was an interesting sex scene.

  2. Sorry, but Paulo Coelho should not be taken seriously or given any more publicity than he’s had already. His books are dreadful, his ‘philosophy’ shallow and all the available evidence suggests that if he isn’t actually a charlatan then he is at best a self-regarding egotist.
    That exerpt seems to be a typically vapid and badly written example of his ‘insight-lite’.

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