Friday, July 29, 2011

Do Psychotic People Really Make Tinfoil Hats?

During my own psychotic depressive episode, I found myself rockin' the sterotype and heading straight for the tinfoil.  Well, aluminum foil, actually; tinfoil hasn't been made since WWII, because aluminum is cheaper and doesn't leave a tinny aftertaste in food.  But somehow "aluminum foil hat" doesn't sound the same.  Even the first section of the Wikipedia article on tin foil hats says that they're hats made of aluminum foil.

I love Wikipedia.  It turns out that there's a clear origin to the tinfoil hat stereotype: a story by Julian Huxley (brother to Aldus Huxley, author of Brave New World) called "The Tissue Culture King", in which the protagonist discovers that caps made of metal foil can can be used to block telepathy.  As wikipedia notes, aluminum foil can used to make something like a Faraday cage that blocks radio waves.

Some nerds at MIT actually did a tongue-in-cheek study of the effectiveness of using foil hats to block certain frequencies, and actually found that aluminum foil amplifies those frequencies designated by the FCC to be used in GPS and other satellites.

I found myself wondering whether there's any actual, documented relationship between paranoia, psychosis, and aluminum foil.  A quick google search revealed no actual evidence for this.  Considering the large population of homeless mentally ill folks in my city, I can't say that I've ever noticed any of them sporting aluminum foil accessories.

The only thing I can say with any certainty, and this is based on my background in anthropology and religious studies, is that many, many cultures use reflective talismans to avert "bad luck" or "the evil eye".  Throughout Europe and Asia, mirrored suits of armor were employed, so that soldiers would be protected from supernatural as well as physical dangers.

In my case, I wasn't using the foil to avert evil, whether it came in the form of "radiation" or "bad luck".  I was using it to contain evil, so to speak.  I was using it to neutralize the cabinet on which my microwave sits, because it dark inside the cabinet, and the darkness was eating photons.  It was sorta something like an inverse Faraday cage, kinda.

I'd really like to know more about this -- is there a relationship between crazy and shiny?  Or is this largely just a stereotype?  Do you have a personal experience with psychosis and foil?

1 comment:

  1. Actually my brother is psychotic & wear an aluminum hat as well


What are your thoughts? Talk amongst yourselves!