Are You Insane?

Even though I never took law courses, last semester, when I was asked to teach Forensic Psychology to law students, I agreed to do so, not because I was an expert on forensic sciences but I wanted to learn from my students through facilitating and interjecting psychology’s perspectives in the legal spheres. Hence, I designed the course in such a way that a collaborative learning could take place each one of us contributing our inputs.

All units have the flavor of both psych as well as law.  The last chapter was dedicated to abnormal behavior and we examined it from legal as well as psychological perspectives.  In Ethiopian law, insanity is defined as unsoundness of mind sufficient in the judgment of a civil court to render a person unfit to maintain a contractual or other legal relationship or to warrant commitment to mental health facilities.  In most criminal jurisdictions, a degree of mental malfunctioning is sufficient to relieve the accused of legal responsibilities for the acts committed.  However, in medical profession, the term insanity is now avoided in favor of diagnosis of specific mental disorders, the presence of delusion or hallucination is broadly referred to a psychosis.

Today I read another interesting definition of insanity by Albert Einestein, which is outside the legal or the medical world – “The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result.” I laughed out loud and then pondered on what Einestain was saying.  With a normal mind which believes in cause and effect, it is insane to expect a wish come true by repeating old non-functional behaviors.  A mind without logic will lead into faulty thinking.

In the case of a court, because insanity is a legal distinction, only a judge or jury can determine a defendant’s insanity.  Psychiatrists may offer professional opinion about the mental status of a defendant as far as clinical judgment is concerned.

I want us not to have an external judge to tell us about our mental status but an internal one.  Judge yourself if you are stuck and yet expecting a changed future.  In other words, are you insane?

AWiB will be holding its third annual event in May resonating with a theme of:  “Reengineering Our Thinking Reengineering Our World!” I felt this theme urges us to unstuck ourselves, think innovatively, do things differently and as a result have a changed world.

Reengineering our mindset requires that we keep on examining our thought world, vision and action.  In our social life, it requires examining how our networks benefit our growth and development.  In our thought life, it requires monitoring what comes in what we retain to lead our lives.  In our emotional world, it is about allowing ourselves to experience the present and envision brighter tomorrow.

Reengineering our mind requires that we do things differently especially if we want to have different results.  It requires re-envisioning, gathering information, sifting what helps and discarding what does not, taking action, doing consistent reevaluation of what worked, what did not and why.  It demands accountability and requires changing archaic dysfunctional mindset and architecting it to incorporate new ways of doing things and hence different result.

I am asking you to be your own judge.  Are you insane according to Einestein’s definition or are you reengineering your thinking to effect your world? We will be “victims\” of the future if we simply accept whatever life dishes out for us.  On the other hand, we can be proactive to craft the future by reengineering our mindset.

Join us on May 22, 2014 at UNECA and broaden your horizon to make greater impact.