Craziness: An Essential Ingredient to Survival in Alaska

There is a little known fact about Alaska that people should become aware of. One of the five major possessors of land in AK is the Alaskan Psychiatric Institute and it’s clients. That’s right, you’ve guessed it, crazy people own one fifth of our biggest state. Even lesser well known is that they put them all in one place where they could keep an eye on them — Fairbanks!

A lot of secretive planning went into this. They didn’t want all the nutso’s down around Anchorage where they could screw up important things like politics and commerce, although they probably wouldn’t have done a worse job than do the sane ones who did dabble in it. The citizenry wanted them far away, isolated, someplace without a road to get on. Somewhere with high mountains on one side and icy waters on the other to fence them in. Fairbanks in the old days fit the bill. They could have sent them off to the last island of the Aleutian Islands, but the ASPCA working on their behalf said that would be inhumane and the natives were afraid they would scare all the fish away.

To be honest, they were really trying to kill them all off. They thought they would just go off into the woods and freeze or starve to death. The problem with this is that crazy people don’t feel cold or hunger. They don’t know they are supposed to die. So they just hang out, eating bark, making weird noises through their noses, digging snow caves to hibernate in, pulling their hair out, tormenting the squirrels and eventually figuring out how to spawn and reproduce.

A lot of crazy people became famous Alaskan pioneers up there. There is the one guy who decided it was a good idea to build houses on permafrost which eventually split in half or tipped end up in a sinkhole when the permafrost proved to not be as permanent as they thought. Or the one who started the wolverine wrestling tournaments on Saturday nights. He never lived long enough to spawn, perhaps fortunately. Or the woman who started a year round nudist colony. She is the inspiration for the expression ‘as cold as a witches ti…oh, never mind.

In Fairbanks it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between crazy people and normal ones. For instance, if you go out to the collective New Year’s festivities around the area don’t bother trying to differentiate. Everyone will seem nuts.

Some of the craziness is due to the weather. Eighteen hour nights in the dead of winter coupled with extreme coldness does damage the nerve endings. There is such a thing as permanent brain freeze and you can tell by the behavior of many of the residents of the 49th state that this is true. Parts of the mind shut down in extreme cold never to light up again. Coordinated environmental assaults of rainy weather, insects, fog, cloudiness, mud, smoke and other irritating factors working in conjunction to torment mid-state Alaskans have also been known to drive people over to the dark side of the mind.


Offer them an ice cream cone. Alaskans strangely eat more ice cream than any other place in the U.S. (a scary sign that the craziness might be more of an epidemic than we know!) If they eat it, it is a sign that they might be more on the side of sanity. If they try to stuff it up their nose, they are wacko. If they smear it on their face for sunblock, don’t fear; they might still be sane and just being real practical.

If they are wearing an animal skin cap, they are probably still sane.

If the animal is still alive – insane. Jump away quickly! You don’t know which will inflict the worse bite.

If their heritage is part native and part white, they are probably OK.

If their heritage is part white and part moose – insane.

If they take part in a 1,000 mile sled dog race – not necessarily insane.

If they take part in a 1,000 mile gerbil sledding race – nutso.

If they grease their bodies with moose liver oil to repel mosquitoes, they might still be sane.

If they grease their bodies with bear oil to attract a mate – severely disturbed.

Roger Freed