In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom!
—J. G. Ballard (1930–2009) English Novelist, Short Story Writer
Anger is a short madness.
Great wits are sure to madness near allied
And thin partitions do their bounds divide.
—John Dryden (1631–1700) English Poet, Literary Critic, Playwright
The experience and behavior that gets labeled schizophrenic is a special strategy that a person invents in order to live in an unlivable situation.
—R. D. Laing (1927–89) Scottish Psychiatrist
The usefulness of madmen is famous: they demonstrate society’s logic flagrantly carried out down to its last scrimshaw scrap.
—Cynthia Ozick (b.1928) American Novelist, Short-story Writer, Essayist
In the past, men created witches; now they create mental patients.
—Thomas Szasz (1920–2012) Hungarian-American Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.
—Allen Ginsberg (1926–97) American Poet, Activist
Madness is consistent, which is more than can be said of poor reason.—Whatever may be the ruling passion at the time continues so throughout the whole delirium, though it should last for life.—Our passions and principles are steady in frenzy, but begin to shift and waver as we return to reason.
—Laurence Sterne (1713–68) Irish Anglican Novelist, Clergyman
Much Madness is divinest Sense—to a discerning Eye—much Sense—the starkest Madness—
—Emily Dickinson (1830–86) American Poet
Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) German Philosopher, Scholar, Writer
But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
—Jack Kerouac (1922–1969) American Novelist, Poet
Wrath begins in madness and ends in repentance.
Every madman thinks all other men mad.
Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.
—Edith Sitwell (1887–1964) British Poet, Literary Critic
It is madness for sheep to talk peace with a wolf.
—Thomas Fuller (1608–61) English Cleric, Historian
Everybody’s youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.
In this century the writer has carried on a conversation with madness. We might almost say of the twentieth-century writer that he aspires to madness. Some have made it, of course, and they hold special places in our regard. To a writer, madness is a final distillation of self, a final editing down. It’s the drowning out of false voices.
—Don DeLillo (b.1936) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
—George Orwell (1903–50) English Novelist, Journalist
And what is an authentic madman? It is a man who preferred to become mad, in the socially accepted sense of the word, rather than forfeit a certain superior idea of human honor. So society has strangled in its asylums all those it wanted to get rid of or protect itself from, because they refused to become its accomplices in certain great nastinesses. For a madman is also a man whom society did not want to hear and whom it wanted to prevent from uttering certain intolerable truths.
—Antonin Artaud (1896–1948) French Actor, Drama Theorist
Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Drunkenness is nothing but a self-induced state of insanity.
—Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) (c.4 BCE–65 CE) Roman Stoic Philosopher, Statesman, Tragedian
The extreme limit of wisdom—that’s what the public calls madness.
—Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) French Poet, Playwright, Film Director
We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
Perhaps he was a bit different from other people, but what really sympathetic person is not a little mad?
—Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) American Dancer, Choreographer
I have cultivated my hysteria with delight and terror. Now I suffer continually from vertigo, and today, 23rd of January, 1862, I have received a singular warning, I have felt the wind of the wing of madness pass over me.
—Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) French Poet, Art Critic, Essayist, Translator
O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven! Keep me in temper. I would not be mad.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.
—Andre Gide (1869–1951) French Novelist
The lightning flashes through my skull; mine eyeballs ache and ache; my whole beaten brain seems as beheaded, and rolling on some stunning ground.
—Herman Melville (1819–91) American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist, Poet
I guess the definition of a lunatic is a man surrounded by them.
—Ezra Pound (1885-1972) American Poet, Translator, Critic
No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.
—Aristotle (384BCE–322BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Scholar