Three Kinds of Crazy

Three Kinds of Crazy

A Story by Lauren Wicker

It's hard to define what's normal when you're surrounded by people who are just as crazy as you are.


The whole thing started because her mother refused to die properly. According to the theory developed by Kubler and Ross, death, in the human mind, was to happen in five stages; denial, anger, desperate bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Claire’s mother did not enter any of these stages. In Maurice Brandon’s mind, death meant that she was suddenly able to do two very important things-- maintain complete disregard for anything other than herself, and, as an added bonus, throw temper tantrums that consisted of her sobbing on the floor and screaming provocative statements such as “This might be the last time you’ll ever see me, how dare you wear that dress!” and “I suppose that all women speak to their dying mothers like this"  in an attempt to force her children to comply with her obscene demands. Freud would call this act of manipulation “rationalization”; when one justifies unacceptable actions and feelings with socially acceptable explanations. Behavioral psychologist Robert Thorndike would attribute this behavior to the Law of Effect, which claims that behaviors are shaped by their consequences. Psychotherapist Erik Erikson might suggest that her obscene demands were the result of a conflict she was experiencing in late adulthood between ego integrity and despair. But Claire Brandon did not agree with any of these theories. Her mother was a b***h, plain and simple.

She had always been this way--demanding, inflexible, and nearly impossible to please. Claire had come to this conclusion on her 16th birthday, when her mother made her scrub the floorboards with a toothbrush instead of going out to dinner. After spending about four hours scrubbing each and every speck of dust in the kitchen, Claire still was unable to meet her mother’s expectations. She lost her temper and began to argue with her mom. Approximately ten minutes later, after items had been thrown and doors had been slammed, Claire began to feel quite bad for yelling at her mother in such an aggressive way, and decided to make amends. Even before she had opened her mother’s bedroom door to make an apology, she could hear her mother sigh.

“I just don’t know if I can handle your attitude anymore, Claire.” Another sigh. Her eyes closed and she shook her head slowly. “There’s only so much abuse I can take.”

To this day, Claire remembers tasting the metallic tinge of blood as her teeth clamped upon her lower lip. She remembers the fury that ignited in her belly as she watched her mother moan and turn away from her. Claire remembers the lump in her throat as she attempted to mutter an apology, how she really, really tried to make it sincere. And she remembers her mother’s limp hand, waving her away, as if she’d heard enough already. Claire remembers how it took three days for her mother to forgive her, how she paced and paced in circles because she couldn’t escape the overwhelming guilt that manifested itself in her mind. This is all Claire remembers of her childhood.

Due to her frustration brought on after attempting (and failing) to please her mother, Claire has developed generalized anxiety disorder. Her once long fingernails are now gnarled stubs, surrounded by  cuticles that are always cracked and bleeding. Panic strikes her any time the phone rings  (because it could be someone calling her because she missed a shift at work), when she gets an email (because it could be someone emailing her about a shift she missed) or when the supervisor’s truck pulls into the parking lot at work (because he could be coming to fire her because she isn’t making her shifts on time). Claire also feels anxiety any time her best friend Laurel says that she is exhausted (because she could be suggesting that Claire is the reason she’s so exhausted), when a guy she feels attracted to doesn’t respond to her text message instantly (because he could have accidentally taken it the wrong way, or thought that she was too desperate, or clingy, or immature, or cowardly, or over-eager), or when one of her friends says that they are having a bad day (because they might be telling Claire this so that she can realize that she’s the reason they are having a bad day.)

Claire has not realized that these beliefs are irrational yet. Cognitive Therapist Ellis would probably say that his Rational Emotive Therapy would benefit her greatly, and help her correct her warped perception of herself. Freud would have her attempt to write down a stream of consciousness, or interpret her dreams. But Claire doesn’t want to go to therapy, and she doesn't want anyone to tell her about her dreams. Instead, she prefers to self-medicate with xanax pills, stolen from her brother, James, who sells them for money to buy smack, which he uses to keep himself from scrubbing floorboards, reorganizing his movie collection, and arranging all of his pencils from shortest to longest in his spare time. Freud would call this behavior sublimination--a form of displacement that occurs when sexual urges are rechanneled into productive, nonsexual activities. Psychologist Adler would suggest that his obsessive habits come from feelings of inferiority--by cleaning an organizing, James can gain a sense of self-importance because he controls which pencils go where. Rogers would say that his obsessions stem from his negative self-concept, brought on by the conditional positive regard placed upon him by his mother, who is currently lying in front of him, still alive, still refusing to die properly.  

© 2010 Lauren Wicker

Author's Note

Lauren Wicker
This was my creative writing final--I only had an hour to write it. I've never posted anything on here before, so I'm not quite sure how it works, but hopefully you'll enjoy the piece? Let me know what you think!

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-Too amazingly put for me to be able to say anything-
I can relate

Posted 6 Years Ago

Hi Miss Lauren.
Good write! Very well put together and an interesting read; I'm sure you got a good grade on it! I must confess that when my mom died I did not handle it well and my last words to her were certainly not what I would have wanted to say now. So similarly I will hold a great deal of guilt behind my eyes everytime I think of her on her deathbed. I suppose that's a standard way a child deals with the death of a loved one, not matter how old and sodded the child eventually becomes. Yes, I miss my mom (sniff). It's interesting how you analyze various feelings from a psychological perspective, and well versed I must say. I'm sure you got a good grade in that course as well. I liked your story and hope you continue to write for yourself and for somebody like me in the future, not just for a class final grade of A+. Take care my dear. BZ

Posted 12 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on June 4, 2010
Last Updated on June 4, 2010
Tags: Psychology, mother, father, ocd, anxiety, dysfunctional family, death


Lauren Wicker
Lauren Wicker

Austin, TX

"I’m a tenor in the choir but I sing a different song Of how the wheres and whys of now all prove I don’t belong But I’m staying I've planted seeds and plan to watch them grow I'.. more..

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