advertisement
Home » Blogs » Psychoanalysis Now » Is Sanity the Same as Wisdom?

Is Sanity the Same as Wisdom?

What is sanity? As a psychoanalyst I have tried to define it.

What is wisdom? Is it the same as sanity? I believe it is. People who are sane are able to understand themselves. They are able to look at themselves objectively and they are able to look at the world objectively. If you are able to look yourself and the world objectively, you are both sane and wise. If you are able to look at yourself and the world objectively and be matter-of-fact about it, you are even more sane and wise.

If you are able to look at the world with some objectivity, and you are humble about it, you are somewhat sane and wise. If you are able to look at the world with some objectivity and you are proud of it, you are neither sane nor wise.

If you are intelligent and humble about your intelligence you are sane and wise, since you understand that your intelligence is a matter of luck—you were born with good genes and a healthy environment. You had nothing to do with these things, so there is nothing to be proud of. You reply, “But I cultivated my intelligence.” No, your environment taught you to do that. If you are proud of being intelligent, you are neither sane nor wise.

If you have amassed wealth and are humble about it, you are sane and wise. If you have amassed wealth and are proud of it, you are neither sane nor wise. If you are rich, it is a matter of luck; you were born with good genes and a healthy environment.

It is sane and wise to quietly feel good about yourself. It is neither sane nor wise to feel proud of yourself.

If you are in a position of authority and you enjoy that power, you are neither sane nor wise. If you are in a position of authority and you accept the position reluctantly and use it carefully and with compassion, you are sane and wise.

If you think that you are right and others are wrong, you are neither sane nor wise. The search for right and wrong is a symptom of insanity. The search for right and wrong leads to conflict. Understanding that there is no right or wrong is sanity and wisdom. Sanity and wisdom helps you to know that there are only the permutations of ever-evolving humanity that take different shapes as they evolve. The universe is not right or wrong. It just is. Black holes in the universe are not right or wrong. They just are. Humanity is part of the universe. It just is. There are reasons why there are nice people and mean people and the reasons have nothing to do with the people themselves.

From ancient times on sane and wise people have existed and set a standard for the rest of us to follow. “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing,” wrote Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher. “Knowing others is wisdom; knowing yourself is enlightenment,” the founder of Daoism, Lao Zi, said. “The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance,” said American statesman Benjamin Franklin. “To acquire knowledge one must study; to acquire wisdom one must observe,” noted Marilyn vos Savant, who, according to Guinness, had the highest IQ before that category was eliminated. “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise,” wrote Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis. “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the steps,” said Confucius.

It is unwise and insane to keep trying the same thing over and over the same way and failing. It is wise and sane to try the same thing over and over, using differing methods, until you succeed.

Following the crowd is a sign of a need for approval. Going your own way to peace and contentment is sane and wise.

It is neither wise nor sane to complain until you get what you want. You may get what you want, but not what you need. It is neither wise nor sane to bully people, nor to join a group that bullies people. You may succeed in the power grab, but you will sacrifice your calmness of spirit. If you only see one side to the argument, you are neither wise nor sane. If you see the many sides to an argument, you are sane and wise.

When you are wise and sane, doing the right thing comes naturally. When you are unwise and insane, doing the wrong thing comes unnaturally naturally.

Wisdom and sanity are the same; when you have them, you go about your business without thinking about going about your business. “I have studied many philosophers and many cats,” noted Hippolyte Taine, a French critic. “The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”

Is Sanity the Same as Wisdom?

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.


One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment

 

 

APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2018). Is Sanity the Same as Wisdom?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 14, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/psychoanalysis-now/2018/08/is-sanity-the-same-as-wisdom/

 

Last updated: 7 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Aug 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.