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Delirium: His madness... His madness keeps him sane.Dream: And do you think he is the only one, my sister?
—The Sandman #31
Sometimes the world you find yourself in is so grim or stressful, if not horrific, that the only way to keep from going crazy is to..well, go crazy. You thus end up acting in silly, if not bizarre, ways, just to keep from truly losing it for good due to all the horror and depression and genuine lunacy surrounding you.
Often a staple of wartime environments and the resultant Black Comedy which often transpires, where the psychological demands of having to deal with death and suffering on a daily basis requires pretty extreme measures to retain one's grip on reality. Compare Bored with Insanity. Contrast with the so-called "Catch 22" situation, where going crazy is conclusive evidence that you're sane enough to stay on the job.
- The quote comes from The Sandman, describing Emperor Norton of San Francisco.
- Some interpretations of The Joker depict him as "super-sane" rather than crazy: he sees how ridiculous and mixed-up the world is, and the only way for him to deal with it is by treating it as one big joke.
- Batman himself may also be a prime example. Grant Morrison has said in interviews that this is how he views Batman: "I never really subscribed to the idea that Bruce was insane or unhealthy. Bruce Wayne would have gone mad if he HADN'T dressed as a bat and found a startling way to channel the grief, guilt and helplessness he felt after the death of his parents. Without Batman, Bruce would be truly screwed-up."
- The Comedian from Watchmen dealt with the terrible things he saw and did by seeing the world as a huge joke.
- Mash is an obvious example, with Hawkeye and Trapper being the most prominent in the film version.
- Private Handjob gets discharged from the Marines in Full Metal Jacket for compulsive masturbation.
- In Zombieland, Tallahassee suggests the gang smash everything in a store in order to keep from going crazy.
- The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy:
- In Life The Universe And Everything, after being stranded for far too long on a primitive planet, Arthur Dent finally announces to the world "I shall go mad!"...just before a flying sofa carrying Ford Prefect tootles past his view. Ford has gone insane to keep from going insane with boredom. He convinces himself that he's a lemon and spends some time jumping in and out of a lake that thinks it's a gin and tonic (at least, he thinks it thought it was).
- In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Wonko the Sane makes his house an inside-out "Outside the Asylum" (the rest of the world is "Inside the Asylum").
- The Duck Man in the Discworld series has suffered many setbacks in his life, some of which we've seen and some of which remain mysterious, and through it all he's remained intelligent, cultured and a wellspring of good sense -- except that he is never seen without a duck on his head, the existence of which he denies if anybody ever asks about it.
- We do see once that from his perspective he is constantly and inexplicably surrounded by people who see ducks where there are none.
- In Brain Twister by Randall Garrett and Laurence Janifer, most people with a particular mental condition are catatonic or gibbering wrecks. The one known exception is Miss Thompson, who is not only compos mentis, she's arguably the sanest and most sensible character in the book -- except that she's unshakeably convinced that she's a 400-year-old immortal who used to be Queen Elizabeth I.
Live Action TV
- Mash follows directly in the movie's footsteps, practiced by several characters throughout the series' run, most notoriously by Klinger (who wasn't in the film).
- Dr. Sidney Freedman specifically said this about Hawkeye:
"Anger turned inwards is depression. Anger turned sideways... is Hawkeye."
- In one episode, a fellow soldier eats Klinger's heart out by being sent home for making sock puppets and talking to them.
- In Jane Wagner's The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe (a one-woman show performed by Lily Tomlin).
Trudy: But I don't ever want to sound negative about going crazy. I don't want to overromanticize it either, but frankly, goin' crazy was the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't say it's for everybody; some people couldn't cope.
- medibot, the Cloudcuckoolander in pokecapn's Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. Kung-Fu Jesus, meanwhile, never recovered.