Are You Normal or Nuts? 2013 Edition

Calling all neurotics, paranoids, and phobics! Our panel of experts says you might not be as loony as you think in this fan-favorite feature.

By Lenore Skenazy from original
Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine November 2013

Are You Normal or Nuts?Illustration by Serge Bloch

The query: Sometimes when a sad but lovely song comes on the radio, I imagine that it would be a nice song to play at my child’s funeral if he were to (God forbid a bazillion-trillion times) die young. Then I start to imagine other details about the service. This is insane, yes?

The verdict: Actually, not insane. Music has a way of stirring deep emotions, and sad songs stir up—surprise—the sad ones. As we listen to, let’s say, Adele, sorrow washes over us and soon our thoughts go rolling in the deep, depressing places we usually avoid. Down there in the dark lurks our greatest fear: death, especially the death of a child.

Confronted by an emotion so overwhelming, the brain has to do something to keep from going over the edge. So it turns the pangs into a project—a do-it-yourself, check-your-checklist activity—because that’s something we can get a handle on, says Dr. Reiss. Thinking about the funeral logistically almost “takes the emotion out of it,” he says. “That makes it bearable.”

Ah, but when does song-induced sadness slip into something more serious? “There’s no specific cutoff,” says Dr. Reiss. “But if it doesn’t fade away, and you find yourself inconsolable, maybe you should talk to someone. A friend or a professional.”

But first, turn off the Adele.

Next: What to do about elevator-induced rage.

  • Your Comments

    • Guest

      Stupidest article I’ve ever read.

    • Michelle

      I find the crituque of St. Joan of Arc a bit off base. A read of her bio reveals that the saints with whom she was conversing, particularly St. Michael, were able to give her detailed plans on how to succeed in battle–something a teen girl would especially in those times have no knowledge of Furthermore, she was executed by the enemy–who were no doubt upset that they were usurped by a girl!

      Joan is certainly not alone by far. Throughout history, different phenomena, such as unexplained fragrances, lights, stigmata, etc. surround the saints. In our day, we had St. Padre Pio, an Italian priest who had the stigmata and more.

      In the Bible, of course, St. Paul had the vision of the bright light and heard the voice of our Lord…

      Hope this helps to explain a bit. It is fascinating to study. I was raised a Baptist and love the research. A good book I found is called “Mysteries Marvels Miracles in the lives of the Saints (Joan Carroll Cruz)