Isolation does funny things to people, it certainly has to me. There are examples or case studies that claim to show that isolation actually leads to insanity. These case studies along with the fictional story of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ do not, as far as I know, attempt to explain why, but they simply suggest that the phenomenon happens. So why would isolation lead to insanity, and better yet, what does it mean to be insane?
The latter first, I think insane is just a deviation from the norm. The further from the norm one becomes, the more insane that person is. I don’t know if this is true, I only suspect that this explains in part what we mean by insanity.
The former which is why would isolation lead to insanity is very much dependent upon the latter. People who have opted to or been forced to live in isolation have only their own thoughts as a reference for defining themselves. I think, so much of our identityis derived from what others think of us that we never truly know ourselves without looking upon that reflection of what others think.
A conditional statement argument: If we only know ourselves based upon the reflection we see on the faces of others, then we do not actually know ourselves. The reflection on the faces of others is the representation of their perception of us. Two people with different perceptions will come to different and possibly contradictory conclusions as to who we are. That would mean that we are not one thing but many things depending upon our audience. I find this final sentence incoherent in that at our core, we must be what we are or, rather, who we are. I know in experience that society and culture dictate various behaviors, and we act according to our environment in many cases just to get through the situation peacefully. Still, we are who we are even if we contort ourselves to a desired status quo.
So, I think that the reflection from others directs us, and we mold ourselves based upon our perception of that reflection. We do not actually know ourselves. In the case of isolation, we are void of the identity producing reflection thus we can only be what we are without judgment, without labels, and without coercion. I feel like I must be what I am first, and I must be what you think I am second. Otherwise, I am nothing more than what you want me to be, or I am insane. Remember though, being insane is nothing more than a deviation from the norm.
“Isolation does funny things to people, it certainly has me.”