Existential Tuesday: Can you be sane in an insane world?

Do you know what you need in order to be sane in this world? And even if you imagine you’ve satisfied all your needs – could you still be sane if the society around you is not?

I think it’s healthy to question society from time to time. To question our whole way of life, like the norms and values, the pressures, obstacles, and the goals, expectations, and outcomes that you face while living in a society. Let’s sketch it out together: what is society’s ideal image of a sane person? And, conversely, what do we think is a sane society? Do our ideals match the reality? And do sane individuals make a sane society, or does a sane society lead to sane individuals?

Consider: in the Netherlands, nearly 1 in 10 adults has been prescribed antidepressants. Nearly 50% of all adults (18+) has experienced one or more mental illnesses at some point in their lives. 26% of people over the age of 15 experience loneliness. One in six workers experience burnout symptoms. There might be more statistics on the distribution of things like existential angst, unhappiness, stress, anxiety, phobias, trauma, and so on, but you get the picture. And the trend seems to be that things are getting worse. Knowing this, do you think we can say that we live in a sane society? Or, if not, do you have any idea of how to get there together?

disclaimer: this is a philosophical discussion about the phenomenon of mental health in society. There will be no mental health professionals in attendance. If you are in need of mental health support of any kind, please contact the TU Delft psychologists at the Career & Counselling Services department.


Existential Tuesdays are small bi-weekly discussions in the Nook of the TUD Library. Practice your critical thinking skills, learn to see the world from different perspectives, and hang out with your fellow deep thinkers in Delft.

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