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Clues to Discovering the Insane
by William 'Cully' Bryant

In the course of fifteen years as a physician, one is forced to learn certain truths regarding human behavior, most of which one would have preferred to remain ignorant. The unavoidable fundamental truth is that a much larger portion of the population than you would ever imagine is, in simplistic terms, crazy.

Fortunately, these poor souls can usually be identified quite readily, as they tend to share certain common tendencies and idiosyncrasies.

Some of these “truths” are as follows:

1)      I must always be wary of a patient who says, “Now doctor, I am leaving on a trip this weekend and I need something that will get me better by then.” (This is one of the more ignorant and irritating things I hear. Do patients actually think that, when faced with an illness, I “reserve”, the best, fastest treatment for certain patients or situations? Sometimes, I want to say, “Well Ms. So and So, I was going to prescribe a rather slow and likely ineffective regimen, even though I knew a much faster and altogether better one was available. But, since you asked so nicely, I have decided that I will go against my instincts and give you the “good” treatment.)

2)      Through years of study, I have observed that if a patient insists that a “shot” is always better than a “pill”, it is highly likely that I have found myself in the presence of a red neck, or an imbecile – commonly both.

3)      It is clear that anyone who claims to be “allergic” to more than three medications should be considered as crazy until proven otherwise.

4)      Any patient to whom I am a total stranger, and who calls me by my first name during our initial visit, as if we have been lifelong companions, should be considered potentially insane. I’m not hung up at all on people calling me “doctor”. It is simply evident to me that most everyone does – unless they know me very well – or they are crazy.

5)      Any patient who is “allergic” to a naturally occurring and absolutely essential bodily substance (potassium or estrogen or vitamin E) is, almost certainly, crazy. I struggle mightily to maintain my composure every time I hear, “I can’t take potassium. I’m allergic to it.” I must stop myself from crying “Good God, get the crash cart! Do you not know that every cell in your body is at this very moment teeming with it?”

6)      Anyone who says “medications work the opposite on me” is potentially in need of psychotropic drugs.

Other signs are much less subtle, and perhaps more indicative of one being moronic rather than crazy. Nevertheless, they must be approached cautiously.

Examples follow:

1)      Those that absolutely can’t pronounce Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

2)      Individuals that refuse to take a cholesterol lowering medication, even though they have hypertension, smoke, have diabetes and have already had a heart attack because they are “afraid it will hurt them”.

3)      Anyone that refuses a potentially lifesaving blood transfusion, aside from religious concerns, because there is a one in a bazillion chance they may contract HIV; despite a one in ten chance they will die without it.

Please believe me that, regardless of the above, I am neither jaded nor cynical.