William James thought the world was made up of two halves: the healthy-minded or those who could ‘avert one’s attention from evil and live simply in the light of good … quite free of one’s melancholy self’ and the sick-souled or morbid-minded ‘grubbing in rat-holes instead of living in the light – with their manufacture of fears and preoccupation with every unwholesome kind of misery there is something almost obscene about these children of wrath’.
In the end to be of morbid mind is according to James the better option—the harsh realities the healthy-minded cheerily repel ‘may after all be the best key to life’s significance and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth’. Still it’s not easy being a sick soul. James is one of the first persons to pop up in a search of ‘neurasthenia’ the catch-all term for those who suffered from nervousness exhaustion, and overthinking in the nineteenth century.
Maybe William James needed a quiet interlude. Maybe something like a quaalude – something that makes you feel like yourself without any of the stress of actually being yourself can be for a healthy mind looking to spice up a Saturday night something that enhances dancing and drinking and sex and honesty.