Otto Rank (one of the fathers of psychotherapy) prescribed the cure for neurosis as the “need for legitimate foolishness.” Thomas Moore, in Care of the Soul, quotes Erasmus, Renaissance humanist, as saying“. . . people are joined in friendship through their foolishness. Community cannot be sustained at too high a level. It thrives in the valleys of soul rather than in the heights of the spirit.”
So often, we fear looking foolish and being laughed at, so we sit on the sidelines out of self-protection and we hide our essence. My own healing gained momentum in the late 70’s when I attended an American Academy of Psychotherapists dance and, from the edge of the disco dance floor, secretly snickered at one of the older members for “making a fool of himself.” “Boy does he look dumb,” I thought, until, click, the light bulb of insight flickered on in my brain. I realized that my judging mind covered up my envy and my fear. I was shying away from joining in the fun; I was avoiding connection and communion with others for fear of “looking foolish.” In my therapy, then and over the years to come, I realized that I had been isolating myself, bottling up my essence, all my life as a way of protecting myself from looking foolish, as a way of avoiding being perceived as “wacko.”
In one of our stints in marital therapy, my wife called me “wacko.” I spent a lot of time, then, and, all through my life up to then, denying being wacko. It was only when I relaxed and accepted, even embraced, my wacko-ness, my passions, my uniqueness, that I stopped acting so high and mighty and began having more fun and making more friends. At this point in my life, I’m the older psychotherapist out there on the dance floor “making a fool of himself.” I wonder how many people are secretly snickering at me.
Now, I must issue a disclaimer. I’m not endorsing mental illness, deviant behavior, genuine addiction, or antisocial behavior. I am addressing the vast majority of the citizenry who could be happier and more fulfilled if they would relax and learn to embrace and to celebrate their essence, their uniqueness, their wacko-ness.