Laziness
Experiment

Thrown out, as opposed to thrown in.
The psychiatric hospital story

Stephen Clark
September, 1997


Excuse my compulsive list-making

In the first part of 1995 I devoted six and a half months of my life to an experiment I called "The Laziness Experiment". I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital and started to live my life by a set of fixed rules. The rules were:

  1. Never put any effort into acquiring money or finding accommodation.
  2. Never put any effort into food preparation or cleaning.
  3. Don't go to live with parents or any other relatives.

I wanted to find an answer to the question, "What happens to a person whose laziness had reached such extremes that they would rather die than work?" I made it clear to the hospital authorities that I would continue to live by these rules even if they discharged me, and that this would inevitably lead to my death. Thus, wanting to preserve my life, they did not discharge me for five months.

I spent the majority of my time engaged in creative leisure activities like writing and drawing. Also quite a bit of reading and T.V. watching. This was an easy, relaxing lifestyle which provided plenty of interesting human contact. However there were some drawbacks, namely:

  1. Occasional boredom
  2. The negative attitude of family and friends towards what I was doing
  3. Certain amount of freedom taken away. They don't let you sleep past nine a.m., and the bedrooms are locked during the daytime. If you start causing trouble they lock you in a room.
  4. Not much choice of food
  5. Things get stolen if you're not careful.

For these reasons, the lifestyle would not be an ideal permanent state of existence.

The fact that I stayed in psychiatric hospital for so long may prompt the question, "Did I have a mental illness?" I was not diagnosed with any sort of psychiatric disorder -- the nurses often said that there was nothing wrong with me, except laziness. However, after five months of hospitalization they were able to put me on sickness benefits (extra money from the government). This enabled them to put me into a boarding house, a place where I could continue to live by my fixed rules without the threat of death, but I would be paying for rent and for food which was provided by the boarding house. This was similar to the hospital accommodation, but with the following differences:

  1. More boredom
  2. Better attitude of family and friends
  3. Keys to the room = more freedom, increased security
  4. Less choice of food, less food, worse food
  5. Less money to spare
  6. Building was old, poorly maintained and depressing.

After six weeks of this, the Laziness Experiment reached its end and the "rules" were abolished.

The conclusion we can draw from this is: A human being does not need to work in order to survive, because modern society will find a way to keep them alive if their laziness grows to life threatening extremes. You may argue that the experiment was a waste of time because there is no one in the whole world who would rather die than work, at least not on a permanent basis. I don't consider it to be a waste of time, though, because those six and a half months were possibly the most interesting and memorable period in my life.


It's all so nice in the nut-house...