Monday, April 21, 2014
The frost eaters
A few years ago I was hanging around a friend's shop downtown. There was an odd man walking down the sidewalk across the street. He had a weird smirk on his fact and walked with a peculiar stride.
My friend said to pretend we couldn't see him. Okay . . . . I thought. When the guy was out of sight my friend explained. The guy was mentally ill, which is polite speak for bat shit crazy. The man believed that if he ate frost from the refrigerator it would make him invisible. While “invisible” he affected an odd walk. The downtown merchants and residents had learned that when the guy had “the walk” he could be ignored and they would not have to engage him in conversation.
I'm not sure what did to the poor man's mental state. After all, he had proof that eating frost made him invisible as everyone acted like they could not see him. Imagine being that guy's therapist.
Now while it didn't help the crazy person to connect with reality, it made it easier for people to get through their day. A few minutes of make pretend and the problem went away.
The whole play into their delusion thing is a useful strategy for large numbers of “frost eaters.” We can make pretend that politicians matter, that law enforcement has our respect, that the IRS should be feared, and so on. They are all a bit . . . challenged (bat shit crazy). We know how the power game is really played, so pretending to live in a functional democracy is just playing a polite game.
Most of the time it doesn't hurt to humor them and pretend they matter to us. If it gets them to move along so we don't have to engage with them, so much the better. A few moments of tolerating their delusion allows us to then get on with our lives without further interruptions.
Of course, the frost eater was harmless. Dangerous crazy people have to restrained for public safety.