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Quotations about Madness,
Sanity and Insanity



Pardon my sanity... in a world insane... ~Emily Dickinson, 1856


It is better to be a little mad than commonplace. ~Victor Cherbuliez, Samuel Brohl and Partner, 1877, translated from French (translator unspecified)


Madness is defined in different ways at different times, sanity being the knack of keeping current. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


His madness foiled his reason... ~Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897


Might we not say to the confused voices which sometimes arise from the depths of our being, "Mesdames, be so kind as to speak only four at a time"? ~Madame Swetchine, translated by H. W. Preston


A man who is “sound of mind” is one who keeps the inner madman under lock and key. The state of sanity and normality are determined by a certain physiological pretense, by make-believe. ~Paul Valéry, translated by Stuart Gilbert


A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King...
~Emily Dickinson


Today I felt pass over me a breath of wind from the wings of madness. ~Charles Baudelaire


When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained. ~Mark Twain


The first time I see you laugh at an insane man's doings I shall mark you down as a lesser physician, for you don't understand the human drama. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)


When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be! ~Man of La Mancha, 1965 Broadway musical based on Dale Wasserman's 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, lyrics by Joe Darion [Character quoted is Cervantes. –tg]


Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled. ~George Santayana


I don't suffer from insanity — I enjoy every minute of it. ~Author unknown


...the place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum... When the gods, to ruin a man, first make him mad, they do it, almost invariably, by making him an optimist. ~Havelock Ellis, "The Art of Thinking," The Dance of Life, 1923


Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change. ~Author unknown


There is always a madness in love. There is, however, also always a reason in madness. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Alexander Tille


If you took a cracked pot and you cracked that cracked pot, you'd be approaching the level of cracked pottery we are talking about here. ~Rachel Maddow, 2011, MSNBC


The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you. ~Rita Mae Brown


See, the human mind is kind of like…
a piñata. When it breaks open,
there's a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the piñata
perspective, you see that losing your mind
can be a peak experience.
~Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, 1987


You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. ~Robin Williams, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 2002


Temporary madness may be necessary in some cases, to cleanse and renovate the mind; just as a fit of illness is to carry off the humours of the body.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


I haven't lost my mind; I have a tape back-up somewhere. ~Author unknown


I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw. ~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, c.1600  [II, 2, Hamlet]


Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. Good mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if any thing is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or reverse their motion. A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


I have my own little world, but it's okay — they know me here. ~Author unknown


But in things that respect the feelings, no man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions! ~Henry Ward Beecher


Insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Helen Zimmern


A man might pass for insane who should see things as they are. ~William Ellery Channing


Once caught for a parking ticket, I pleaded insanity. ~Steven Wright, A Steven Wright Special, 1985, stevenwright.com


It's like the craziest patient at the insane asylum running the place because he's the most "qualified." ~Terri Guillemets


There is a Pleasure sure
In being mad, which none but Mad-men know!
Let me indulge it, let me gaze for ever!
~John Dryden


If you are physically sick, you can elicit the interest of a battery of physicians; but if you are mentally sick, you are lucky if the janitor comes around. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)


Sanity is very rare: every man almost & every woman has a dash of madness, & the combinations of society continually detect it. See how many experiments at the perfect man. One thousand million, they say, is the population of the globe. So many experiments then. Well a few times in history a well mixed character transpires. Look in the hundreds of persons that each of us knows. Only a few whom we regard with great complacency, a few sanities. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, journal, 1838


Insanity is the state of being unable, any longer, to be just a little bit delusional. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Look both ways before entering the insanity. ~Terri Guillemets


All human rules are more or less idiotic, I suppose. It is best so, no doubt. The way it is now, the asylums can hold the sane people, but if we tried to shut up the insane we should run out of building materials. ~Mark Twain


All my life I've been trying to fit insane pieces into the puzzle of sanity. Or maybe the other way around. ~Terri Guillemets


Why, no one is sane, straight along, year in & year out, & we all know it. Our insanities are of varying sorts, & express themselves in various forms — fortunately harmless forms as a rule — but in whatever form they occur an immense upheaval of feeling can at any time topple us distinctly over the sanity-line for a little while... ~Mark Twain





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