We reside in a world where society classifies us as either sane or insane; and society bases its judgment on our actions, principles and ideals. But what does it mean to be normal or insane? The common view on insanity is that it’s a derangement of the mind; and is the product of mental illness. In Paulo Coelho’s Veronika Decides to Die, it is stated that insanity is not a mental disease, it is merely diverging from the standard norms and generally accepted behaviors of society, and thus sanity is merely collective madness.
There are many patients in Villete who are in the asylum not because they were suffering from brain damage; but because society termed them crazy for being different, for thinking outside the box. One such patient is the schizophrenic named Eduard. Eduard was not truly insane; he had artistic taste, a fine personality, a potential career for an ambassador like his father and was able to speak and maybe even love Veronika. Even when experiencing a bike accident, the doctors who examined him stated that there was no damage in his brain. Yet he was portrayed as mad by his own parents when he altered his way of life, and began aspiring to paint his ‘visions of paradise’ instead of pursuing a political career as an ambassador. There was not a wit of madness in his actions, it was just different; yet because his visions of paradise were not considered “normal”, because no one thought it was right or acceptable, he ended up in Villete and was dubbed a schizophrenic. Mari, a woman who suffers from panic attacks, is also another patient in Villete, and is a member of the Fraternity, a group of cured patients who merely refused to leave Villete and face the challenges of the real world. After being released from Villete, she left a letter bidding farewell to her friends, and mentioning that life inside the asylum is no more different than life outside the gates of Villete. She yearned for an adventure, and for a sixty-five year old woman, that...
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