This poor guy is pouring his heart out to his psychiatrist. He’s reliving his traumatic childhood in vivid detail. He’s telling his therapist that it’s “all his mother’s fault.”Freud was all the rage when this book was first published in 1950. The publisher writes that John Knight was the pen name of a famous scientist who was suffering from depression, and that the book is a “startling confession of how he found a new and better life through psychoanalysis.”

Well, I know that I’m “just a nurse,” but I think everyone can benefit from therapy. After all, what is normal?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received some interesting questions from some of my readers. Today, I want to address a question from “The Mental.”

Question: “ ‘They’ say that psych nurses usually go wacko themselves after several years since they are surrounded by crazy people all the time…you forget how to interact with the Outsiders. We start to rub off on you all?! (HA! I love it. It is contagious you know…) So the question is: How have you stayed sane after all these years? I have observed psych nurses crazier than me before so I know there is some truth to the saying.”

Dear “The Mental,”

The phenomenon you are referring to is called psychosis by osmosis. I coined the term when I entered psychiatric nursing. Maybe one day I’ll submit it to Wikipedia. Osmosis is the movement of water (red dots) through a semipermeable membrane to a higher concentration of solutes (blue dots). In psychosis by osmosis, the psychotic behavior, or craziness, of one individual cross over to an individual with fewer symptoms, thus making everyone a little crazy. I, too, have seen this phenomenon, and it can be really entertaining to watch.

Your question implies that I am normal. While I’m not certifiable, I have to admit that I’m a little left of center. I mean, really, I work in an abusive health care system and I don’t have the sense to get a new job. I tell my patients that there is only one major difference between us. They let their craziness run their lives while I have learned to run my craziness.

There are many things that we all can do to get on top of our insanity. For example, I write, collect books and pottery, enjoy time with my family, and I don’t think about work when I am at home. And I remember the words of Robin Williams……

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”