It’s been alleged by some — a few, and certainly not an entire horde of enthusiasts — that I’ve had a glittering career as a psychotic. It was always on to the next delusion, the next hallucination or, more likely, the next disability check. Now, with the lights dimming a bit, it might be time to consider that this career I’ve been cobbling together from stray ideas of reference, delusions, and alleged cognitive deficits — none of it planned — might actually have a touch of glitter to it.
It all began for me, in a clinical and barely legal sense, during the war weeks — not “the war years” as World War II is sometimes called — but the war weeks of early 1991.
I was not part of the Great Generation, having missed out on World War II by the inescapable fact that I was not even conceived until seven years after hostilities in that war had ended. Still, I thought of us — the boomers — as being a reasonably good generation. We were the generation who protested the draft in the sixties, waged a noble battle with The Imperial Presidency of Richard Nixon and who — if we were Jews — went off with wild abandon to shack up with what seemed a limitless horde of willing shiksas.
But in 1991 — those crazy war weeks of 1991 — the year I succumbed to the ravages of psychosis, there was a war going on, albeit a dreary affair. The Persian Gulf War had very little panache to it. It was mostly about rambling through sand storms, blowing on your hands and losing semi-solid Hershey bars to the desert heat. There would be no heroic storming of the beaches at Anzio, with John Wayne egging us on. Still, it was a war, the only one we had in the early 90s — the decade before a handful of terrorists who couldn’t even land a plane (and proved that they didn’t really need to know how to land a plane) drew America into a smorgasbord of seemingly interminable military engagements.
I was finishing up a three-and-one-half year stint of sanity — or so it seemed — at a large D.C. law firm before I was advised, on the morning of October 29, 1991 — months after the war weeks had passed — that for the previous three odd years I had actually been insane. One of the firm’s senior partners summoned me to his office. He had determined that I was not fit to serve. I was being discharged. Only later did I learn that the firm feared I might be homicidal, ready to turn my arms on fellow comrades.
And so it was that my career as a psychotic began during the war weeks of 1991, so many years ago. The war weeks ended in the same year my battles, retreats and campaigns with asymptomatic paranoid schizophrenia began.