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Home: Articles: Miscellaneous: Quotations on Madness

Quotations on Madness


"Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence -- whether much that is glorious -- whether all that is profound -- does not spring from disease of thought -- from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night"

-- Edgar Allen Poe, American Poet

"When you are insane, you are busy being insane - all the time... When I When I was crazy, that's all I was."
-- Sylvia Plath, Poet, Fulbright fellow, Pulitzer Prize winner (Posthumous)

"Madness is confusion of levels of fact... Madness is not seeing visions but confusing levels."
-- William S. Burroughs, American author, "Intergalactic Space/Time Liberator" (1914 - 1997)

"Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad."
-- Euripides, Greek tragic dramatist (484 BC - 406 BC)

"Madness in great ones must not unwatched go."
-- Shakespeare, Hamlet

"Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you."
-- C.G. Jung

"You need a touch of madness, just enough that you don't become stupid!"
-- Robin Williams

"There is but one end for those who want to change the world: Madness!"
-- Anonymous

"There's someone in my head but it's not me."
-- Roger Waters (From Dark Side of the Moon)

"Howard Hughes was able to afford the luxury of madness, like a man who not only thinks he is Napoleon but hires an army to prove it."
-- Ted Morgan

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer?"
George Price

"If all weren't a little mad we'd be totally insane."
-- Stacy Lucero

"Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through. It is potential liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death."
-- R.D. Laing (1927-89), British psychiatrist. The Politics of Experience, ch. 6 (1967).

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives.
". . . I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends . . . and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it."
-- John Lennon (1940-80), British rock musician. Interview, 22 June 1968, BBC-TV.

"The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."
-- John Milton (1608-74), English poet. Satan, in Paradise Lost, bk. 1.

"No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness."
-- Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), Greek philosopher.
Attributed by Seneca in Moral Essays, "De Tranquillitate Animi" (On Tranquility of Mind), sct. 17, subsct. 10.

"MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from the study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane..."
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat. "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
-- Lewis Carroll

"Howard Hughes was able to afford the luxury of madness, like a man who not only thinks he is Napoleon but hires an army to prove it."
Ted Morgan

"Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting."
John Russell

"Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence."
Henrik Tikkanen

"Might we not say to the confused voices which sometimes arise from the depths of our being: 'Ladies, be so kind as to speak only four at a time?'"
-- Madame Swetchine

"A man who is 'of sound mind' is one who keeps the inner madman under lock and key."
-- Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres, 1942

"Sanity is madness put to good uses."
-- George Santayana, Little Essays

"I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it."
-- Author Unknown

"Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change."
-- Author Unknown

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you."
-- Rita Mae Brown

"See, the human mind is kind of like... a piñata. When it breaks open, there's a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the piñata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience."
-- Jane Wagner

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."
-- Robin Williams

"I haven't lost my mind; I have a tape back-up somewhere."
-- Author Unknown

"I'll be the in to your sane."
-- Numan

"I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw."
-- William Shakespeare

"Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked."
-- Oliver W. Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, 1858

"I have my own little world, but it's okay - they know me here."
-- Author Unknown

"No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions."
-- Henry Ward Beecher

"Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, political parties, nations, and eras it's the rule."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886

"A man might pass for insane who should see things as they are."
-- William Ellery Channing

"I feel like a fugitive from the law of averages."
-- William H. Mauldin

"There is a pleasure sure
In being mad which none but madmen know."
-- John Dryden, The Spanish Friar, 1681

"If you are physically sick, you can elicit the interest of a battery of physicians; but if you are mentally sick, you are lucky if the janitor comes around."
-- Martin H. Fischer

"No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness."
-- Aristotle

"There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good."
-- Edwin Denby

"A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King."
-- Emily Dickinson

"Everything great in the world is done by neurotics; they alone founded our religions and created our masterpieces."
-- Marcel Proust

"Today I felt pass over me A breath of wind from the wings of madness."
-- Charles Baudelaire

"Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad."
-- Diogenes

"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
-- Mark Twain

"I suppose it is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have one's doubts."
-- G.B. Burgin

"This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses."
-- George W. Bush, at a South Carolina oyster roast.
As quoted in the Financial Times, Jan. 14, 2000

"Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively."
-- Voltaire (French philosopher, 1694-1778)

"It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill - it's a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider. I'm all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I'll always remain half crazy."
-- Vincent van Gogh (Dutch painter, 1853-1890)

"A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free."
-- Nikos Kazantzakis (Greek writer, 1885-1957)

"I am interested in madness. I believe it is the biggest thing in the human race, and the most constant. How do you take away from a man his madness without also taking away his identity?"
-- William Saroyan (American writer, 1908-1981)

"There is no genius free from some tincture of madness."
-- Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

"The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one's designs to one's means."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

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Modified November 22, 2005

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