Poor Phone Etiquette Good News For Schizophrenics

August 6, 2013 Alistair McHarg

I’ve been writing Funny In The Head for some time now, and, as you might imagine, knowing you, as I don’t, writing a humor column for a mental health website is not the easiest hoe to row, if you follow my wake, and if you do, bravo!

Week after week I am deluged with emails from irate readers who prattle on interminably with protestations of indignation, hurt feelings, and shock. Surprisingly, the vast majority of them are from schizophrenics. Here is a recent example.

“Dear Idiot: I have had it up to here, I’m pointing at my Adam’s apple, with your column. Please tell me why schizophrenics receive virtually no coverage whatsoever. You’ve got plenty of time for the glamour illnesses like bipolar disorder, narcissism, agoraphobia, triskaidekaphobia, bongopolymorphism, and of course, Munchausen by Proxy. But when it comes to schizophrenia, phooey! Thanks for the sour persimmons Mr. Funny In The Head but not very funny on the page!” Yours Sincerely, Name Withheld By Request.”

The objection is valid but no slight is intended and there is no oversight here, indeed, the omission is quite deliberate. Please do not think that it is the result of thoughtfulness, tact, or sensitivity on my part; it’s far too late for that. My intention is to direct derisive barbs at all 360 degrees of the circle; if anyone is left un-offended at the end of the day it is simply because I just don’t have the energy I did once, it certainly isn’t for want of trying.

The fact of it is; I don’t make jokes about schizophrenia because I just can’t find any humor in it. It’s painful, sad, and terrifying. However, I do have some very good news for schizophrenics. Today’s tsunami of cell phone yakking has eliminated the taboo once surrounding talking to yourself in public. Face it – we don’t know if there’s anyone on the other end of that cell phone held by the intense thirty-something uber-upper-digitalian in line at Starbucks. But we must listen to them invade their own privacy, and ours, ad infinitum.

So talk to your self, or imagined friends, or actual colleagues separated by time and space, it won’t bother a soul. Talking incoherently in public, and forcing others to listen to your blather, is the new normal.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2013, August 6). Poor Phone Etiquette Good News For Schizophrenics, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

Ilene Flannery Wells
August, 10 2013 at 7:50 am

Hi Alistair! Thank you so much for this post. As the twin sister of someone who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 16, spent 20 years in NY state psychiatric hospitals, and another 10 floundering in the community mental health "system", it is very hard for me to find anything funny about this heinous brain disorder.
Having said that, my siblings and I did get to the point where we would laugh at some of the things Paul said or did, not to make fun of him, but instead of crying. Paul never had one fully lucid day in 32 years. We learned to talk around his delusions...and he had many of them...children he didn't he never had...people who he thought were his parents, but weren't...he was James Bond, or Clint Eastwood, or a professional football player...or he was scalped or shot in the head..."so Paul, did your friend shoot your whole head off, or just part of it?"...but we loved Paul even more because he needed our support so much.
Paul once told me there was someone living inside of him that wouldn't let him sit down, or eat. Months later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I wonder if his schizophrenic brain interpreted the cancer as "someone else"...Paul had lost a lot of weight from a couple of recurring bouts of pneumonia...or at least that is what the doctors told us it was...when we got the diagnosis of cancer, I thought back to this...I get the eating part, but I still don't understand why he wouldn't let him sit down.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
August, 10 2013 at 8:26 am

Hello Ilene: Thank you for reading and thank you most of all for your brave and honest response. I find humor in every aspect of the human condition, many people don't. I am glad you were able to see the complete picture with Paul, and love him as a person, not as a symptom. He is so lucky to have had you, the loneliness of schizophrenia is epic. Very best regards, Alistair

August, 7 2013 at 6:27 am

Hi Alistair! I agree with you about not joking about schizophrenia,it is scary. The new normal really is talking in public without any regards for others. It leaves me wondering what the other person is saying...are they plotting to take over the world,or redesigning prairie dog tunnels without the prairie dogs' knowledge, who knows!
Wishing you a wonderful week :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
August, 7 2013 at 6:40 am

Hi AKA! - Prairie dog tunnels! I love it! Have a great week. A

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