0203 - Credible threats - 2021.08.23
There are three overlapping terms in the English language that are often treated as synonyms, but have their own crucially distinct meanings: "mental illness", "insanity", and "madness".
Mental illness, as the name suggests, is analogous to physical illness, but mental. Mental illnesses are usually able to be specifically diagnosed with names like "PTSD", "ADHD", or "phobia". Some are like a broken leg, and, with proper treatment, can be healed in time. Some are more like an amputated leg, and regardless of how much therapy is applied, will simply have to be accomodated with artificial help going forward. Still others are like colour-blindness - you're born with it, and depending on circumstance, may have to disclose your condition to others so that they can take it into account.
Mental illness can explain bad actions, but not excuse them. A bad guy in a movie may display symptoms of mental illness to be scary, in much the same way that they may have horrific physical deformities, but in real life, people who suffer from mental illness are far more likely to be victims of discrimination, neglect, and violence than their neurotypical counterparts. Just as I believe that people should be (and, in the future, will be) entitled to physical medical care, mental health resources should be equally plentiful and frictionless.
Insanity is not a medical term, but a legal one. A verdict of "insanity" indicates that someone cannot reasonably be held responsible for their actions, and cannot function normally in society or be trusted to make decisions about their own well-being or the well-being of others. This is why "temporary insanity" due to grief or fear or rage is a thing - someone in the throes of passion after witnessing their child being abused or their spouse cheating is not in a mindset where they could reasonably make practical decisions.
It is worth noting that not only do you not need a diagnosis of mental illness to be insane - you don't even need to be wrong. If I believe that aliens probed my butt and I need to wear a tinfoil hat to block their mind control and that my neighbours are evil clones, these beliefs would make me unable to behave normally in society even if they happen to be true.
Madness is what happens when someone acts based on something other than logic, when they give themselves over to some overriding emotion. Madness can manifest in response to religious ecstasy, or musical bliss, or sports triumph, or mob outrage, or capricious illogical whimsy, or even a particularly lucrative mattress sale. When the voice in your head of practicality, empathy, and reason is ignored or suppressed in favour of something else, you have gone mad.
Back when I drew Leftover Soup, I drew Max's eyes in a different, more toony style than the other members of the cast, and I told everyone that this was to indicate madness. My use of that term was deliberate, and should not be confused with her mental illness (which she canonically had, and treated with therapy and medication as a responsible person should), or her insanity (which she did not have, as she remained a responsible adult member of society who could reasonably be expected to follow laws and practice safer, more ethical forms of hedonism).
Lee is, canonically, neither mentally ill nor insane. After all, magic future-tech has eliminated the possibility of depression, and Doc has officially diagnosed them as sane. Lee is, however, mad, and that is important.