Being Psychotic is no joke

and psychosis isn’t fun

I was flicking through a social media platform and came across this article called ‘Identifying the Psychotic Boss’, by Robert Greene, which you can read here. Now most of us might have thought our boss was the devil incarnate or the boss from hell, but what about the psychotic boss? I’ll just leave the following short excerpt from his article here for you:

Psychosis is not a joke — Image by

“I decided to do some ancillary research on the internet, and discovered a whole sub genre of what is known as the psychotic boss. There were websites devoted to this subject. I frequented the sites and contacted a few members who had particularly gruesome stories to relate. Certain themes began to crystallize and it became clear to me that this character I was creating out of my own experiences was something that was increasingly common in the workplace.”

What’s wrong with this article?

Hmmm — here’s my response to Robert Greene:

Psychosis black and white photo of young man's head - looks like he's shaking his head in confusion
Psychosis – Image by Sunsplash; Adrian Swancar

I get that this is an old post Robert, and you might be more aware of mental illness and the attached stigma and discrimination now? While a lot of your article is quite funny and true in acknowledging “Bosses from hell” (and I’ve had a few of them), I take offence at the term ‘Psychotic’ as it’s used in a derogatory manner and stigmatising mental illness.

As a determined advocate of mental illness and the Stamp out Stigma campaigns, I’m disappointed that these ignorant terms are still being bandied around. It’s almost childish, like saying “You belong in the loony bin.” or “The men in white coats are coming to get you.”

Perhaps you might like to update your knowledge and understanding of mental illness, if you haven’t already done so, by doing further research and reading:

Now this chap, Michael Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery and The Laws of Human Nature. Amazon say “Robert Greene is a master guide for millions of readers, distilling ancient wisdom and philosophy.”

With all his research, the very nature of his six books and lots of high accolades drawn from both fans and critics, you’d think Robert Greene would have a bit more awareness about mental health and illness terminology.

You see. Crazy. Unhinged. Psychotic. Psycho. Loony. These are all throwaway insults that people use unfairly when describing someone experiencing a mental illness. And they’re truly inappropriate. But unfortunately, many people have been brought up in societies where these words are perfectly acceptable.

Also, many terms that some people view as offensive are not seen as offensive by others. I think a large part of the problem is that many well-meaning people simply aren’t aware of the issue. So, by changing how we talk about mental health, we can start to change the negative attitudes; the prejudice and discrimination that affect so many of us.

This was my most recent post on Shouting out about about Stigma here. Have you ever or would you pull someone up or correct them for using some of the negative terms?


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

34 thoughts on “Being Psychotic is no joke”

  1. Oh my gosh. YES. My aunt and my cousin had this joke once. (I’m no longer close to either of them.) My aunt was working as a pharmacy tech, passing out prescriptions. She complained about how mean the customers are to her. And I’m sure she speaks the truth, but that’s not the issue. My cousin said she should yell after them, “HEY COME BACK, YOU FORGOT YOUR ANTIPSYCHOTICS!” Yeah. That’s nice. And he posted that “joke” on social media, knowing I take antipsychotics AND that I struggle to pick up my own meds. (My dad has to get them for me. I bristle when they ask for my birthdate and might break down and throw a tantrum over it. God bless my father, is all I can say.) (At the same time, I understand how my aunt was struggling with providing customer service, but I never shared that stuff about my difficulties with my aunt. I’m too nice to have done that. I did tell my cousin about it, though, and suffice it to say, we’re all on the outs now.) (That’s not why we’re on the outs, but it played into it, for sure.)

    I hate-hate-hate how “psychotic” has become an insult. And as you said, it’s not used to insult actual psychotic people, but MEAN people. So not cool. Makes Meg very angry. It’s become a pejorative insult. I miss the days when I was a kid, and the whole joke was, “I can read your mind because I’m psychotic.” Like, ha ha, you used the word psychotic instead of psychic. That was less pejorative and more innocent. I hate the connotations of “psychotic” today. Grrrr.

  2. What has the world become?!? Do we have psychotic bosses now? Let me think, they would share the same illusion then? (not really realistic) Sounds like the bosses from hell share an (maybe political, surely economical) agenda.
    Comparing or even worse applying the term ‘psychotic’ to that structure, seems so unreal, so impossible. Maybe mr Greene is a bit out of the loop himself or even out of touch with reality but not in a psychotic way!
    People should learn about some words and their proper meaning before using them so freely.

  3. I get particularly prickly when people use psychiatric terms. I would find slang like “psycho boss” obnoxious, but it wouldn’t piss me off to the same extent “psychotic boss” does. Someone who’s intelligent enough to write a book should be able to pull their head out of their ass long enough to do a quick Google search for what psychotic actually means. Ok, rant over.

  4. I’m with you. Words like “crazy”, “psycho” and “nuts” piss me off so much. The broader society is so used to using these terms casually, without considering their true meaning.
    A while ago I was in a difficult situation… A close friend of my partner posted a joke about mental illness on FB. I was so offended, but I couldn’t bare to draw attention to myself by commenting on it, especially since not many people know about my mental illness. It was incredibly frustrating. But the incident has made me be more open about my mental health, and now when I hear or see offensive and stigmatizing comments, I point it out. I don’t care if it makes people uncomfortable anymore – they made me uncomfortable in the first place with their ignorant comments, and need to know how damaging they can be.

    1. Good for you, pulling people up or pointing out that this language is no longer acceptable. I know it can be difficulties we don’t want to bring attention to ourselves. But like you, I gave up caring what other people think about me and mental illness long ago! 🙂

  5. Thank you for highlighting this important topic. People who suffer mental distress have a hard enough time with the world, and misuse of misunderstood psychiatric terms make life for them even harder. There are many people out there in leadership roles who do appear to fit within the spectrum of narcissistic and sociopathic behaviours. Machiavellian personality traits and a willingness to be callous and exploit other human beings are even praised by some as ‘leadership qualities’ and signs of ‘success’ or even ‘charisma’. Psychosis, by contrast, is a discreet form of emotional and mental suffering, often experienced by the most sensitive or vulnerable in our society. People who misuse the term in an effort to insult really only show their own ignorance.

    1. Oh I agree with you Stephen. Particularly someone like this guy who’s well-versed in the art of writing about humans and their behaviour. How could he not have been more aware? I wonder whether he’s be using this terminology if someone in his family had schizophrenia or the like? Caz x

  6. I am 110% on board with ending stigma, but I have to wonder at which point we’ve lost our sense of humor too much to be politically correct. I mean, am I supposed to feel bad when I wear my t-shirt that says “you inspire my inner serial killer’? because some idiots might take it as me making fun of mental health issues? I’m just trying to survive my issues and humor and sarcasm are how I do it. There is just such a fine line these days between offending people or having a sense of humor, I find it very difficult to navigate and still be true to myself.
    Having said that, I’d like to add that my kid came running to me all happy the other day and informed me, “Mom, there’s a cure for stigma, it was on TV!”
    Bless her little heart for actually hearing me when I talk to her about mental health stigma and how it’s not cool to be mean to people who have mental health issues. I wish it were as simple as a TV commercial reaching a ten year old to reach throngs of adults who can’t grasp the concept.

    1. I agree, there is a fine line…… and we’re having to be more politically correct these days, about almost everything, which obviously impacts on any sense of humour. I just felt that this guy is an author of five books, mainly about human behaviour and just thought he might have a bit more sense. Someone with a big reputation ought to have done some research on mental illness rather ‘psychotic’ bosses.
      Well done to Spook, amazing isn’t it? Out of the mouth of babes! x

    1. I think it’s important too 🙂 I think it’s getting a bit better, less derogatory words used – mind you. I’m not out and about so much now so how would I know 😉 lol Caz x

  7. It’s so sad to see people using words like this but it has become so common for people to use words like psychotic or nuts in that manner. I also hate when people say they have OCD just because they are neat or have anxiety just because they’re nervous about something. It takes away the seriousness of the problem. I’ve also noticed that movies will often use psychological disorders as either a joke or as a horror plot which really emphasis an already problematic stigma surrounding people with mental health problems. I can not imagine people using physical illnesses in this way so it really sucks when they use mental illnesses like that.

    1. You’re right – you don’t hear “you’re cancer” or “you’re so benign” or “oh my god, he’s malignant.” And you know what, I didn’t like typing those horrible terms and they read awful – don’t you think? I’m sure a few people are cringeing reading those nasty words 🙁 So you’d think people would know not to use the derogatory terms about mental illness? x

      1. If only mental illnesses were treated more like physical illnesses. If more poeple understood how offensive using terms like that are and stopped maybe there wouldn’t be so much stigma out there. I think it does so much hegemonic damage and that’s the kind that’s most difficult to undo.

  8. There are way too many psychiatric terms casually tossed about as labels. People may think it’s funny or that it gets the point across faster, but in the long run it creates a dangerous situation for people who actually have those conditions. I’m sure many people push against diagnoses of “psychotic” or “bipolar” because of those stereotypes, whether because they associate them with a caricature they don’t want to be or because they fear people will withdraw from them on hearing it.

    1. Thank you, as always, I love your feedback 🙂 I think it is where the stigma comes from i.e. back in the day people were in lunatic asylums and that word lunatic is still around today, with it’s negative connotations 🙁 x

  9. This is a well researched article. I totally understand that that psychosis is not a good place to be. ABnormal psychology was one of my majors. Thank you for this post

    1. Hi Parneet, I’m glad you enjoyed this post and it’s great that you did psychology. It’s a fascinating subject and we need more understanding, so well done 🙂 Caz x

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights