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» Provider Directory » Find a Therapist » Pennsylvania » West Chester Therapists » Therapist Profile


Dr. Sharon Kelly

Are We All Crazy?

Are We All Crazy?

                                            Sometimes insanity is a sane response

                                            to an insane situation.

                                                                                                                      R.D. Laing          

The most common question asked at the end of a therapy session is: "So, am I crazy?Ē  Of course there are softer, more politically correct terms like mental illness or emotional instabilityCrazy, however, seems to be the word of choice when we are feeling out of control of our lives.  

Today there is enormous stress coming from so many directions, and many people are feeling a loss of control.  Does that make everyone crazy? Letís see.

Imagine that there is a line that defines the crazy and the sane among us.  Now imagine that this is a line that does not divide, but rather one that connects us.  We are all on the same line somewhere.  

This line, a continuum really, reaches in either direction to infinity.  Toward the left  (all political connotations aside) are the sane folks and to the right, the crazy ones.  Our places change constantly depending upon the circumstances with which we are faced as well as our ability to cope with and respond to those circumstances. 

Where are you on the line today? 

Remember though, as this line reaches to infinity, it is impossible to be completely sane or completely crazy.  There is always some element of both to some degree.   In fact, given the choice, would anyone choose to be totally and utterly sane?  

With each day, our life changes. Today the circumstances of your life may rattle and disrupt your peace.  Tomorrow it may be smooth sailing.  Throw some behavioral choices into the mix such as the presence or absence of adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, supportive relationships, etc. and that will also shift your spot on the line in one direction or the other.  

This sense of being interconnected is further reflected in the problems we all endure as human beings. Regardless of appearance, education, income, general intelligence, or other individual strengths or weaknesses, we all struggle with the same core issues: anxiety, depression, interpersonal conflicts and so on.  The human condition connects us far more than it ever divides. Most importantly, there is one essential element that we all share as human beings.


Potential is an intriguing word. We can strive for it, yet we can never actually reach it. By definition, it is the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.  It hovers just ahead, provoking us to be better.  Not better in a competitive way necessarily.  Just better.  

To evolve, to learn, to continuously improve ourselves from where we are today. Thatís potential.  It drives us, inspires us, and it even heals us if we attend to it properly.  In phases where we feel content with ourselves and our lives, potential is there to challenge us to create grander dreams and more purposeful goals.  If we actively attempt to ignore or repress it, we are haunted by it forever.

Unfortunately, when we give unnecessary weight to the weaknesses, impairments or symptoms we possess, we are yanked down as if an anchor were attached and dropped.  We may be safe in our little spot forevermore, but there is no opportunity for movement or growth. 

One of the greatest gifts in my own life has been the experience of working closely with people who have inspired me with their responses to personal obstacles:  a young man paralyzed by a catastrophic injury who went on to become a respected attorney; individuals with blindness who maintain independent and dignified lives with the assistance of their Seeing Eye dogs;  a fellow student with total deafness who consistently challenged me to friendly competitions in our Logic classes; adults with developmental disabilities who maintain responsible employment and actively contribute to their community; and finally, folks with chronic mental illness who strive to understand and manage their symptoms while creating meaningful, even joyful lives.       

Success or failure in life is not determined by an individualís given circumstances.  It is our responses to those circumstances the makes all the difference in how our lives unfold.  Be careful not to confuse reaction with response.  Our reaction to an incident is more instantaneous, physiological, and primitive.  Our response, ideally, is made from a more calm, thoughtful, and intentional place.  

For example, when my friend was paralyzed as a result of a catastrophic rugby injury, it would have been no surprise if he shut down completely, surrendering to a life of depression and complete dependency.  Instead, he decided to access and develop an alternate strength, his mind, and enroll in law school.  Indeed, his initial reaction was emotional devastation. His response, however, was to adapt and move forward. 

To move forward it is essential that we surround ourselves with people who believe in us and in our potential.  When those who love us cannot or will not embrace our potential, they may themselves become like anchors in our lives.  As we begin to enjoy the experience of being accepted and supported, our lives become lighter and more productive.  We also become more generous in our own encouragement and support of those around us.

As we start to believe in the potential to learn, to adapt, to strive for healthier relationships, an amazing thing happens.  We begin to dream again. Similar to young children, we return to our faith in the possibilities of life.  From that dream, goals emerge that we can work toward.  When goals are developed with clarity and purpose, it becomes easy to adjust our behaviors and decisions consistently in their direction. 

As we begin to go forward, slowly we start to feel in control of our lives once again.  Obstacles continue to emerge, however we are now increasingly more prepared and willing to navigate them rather than be defeated by them.  

And, as we wake up each morning from our restful nightís sleep, we find that our spot on the line shifts a little bit to the left and we feel a little less crazy. 

by Sharon Daley Kelly

Dr. Sharon Kelly, West Chester

 Practice Locations
West Chester, PA 19380
Saint Peter's Village, PA 19470
Wilmington, DE 19807
Malvern, PA 19355

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Are We All Crazy?

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Last Modified: 5/2/2021  

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