Crazy Not Insane (HBO)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Crazy Not Insane:

Irony: Naming your documentary how it makes the viewer feel.

Quick synopsis:

A documentary about psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis. Or her theories. Or her thoughts on the death penalty. Honestly, I’m not sure what it was going for.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Dissociative identity disorder (DID), or multiple personalities, is an actual diagnosis.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Dr. Lewis thought David Bundy had DID. Probably not, though.

My Take on Crazy Not Insane:

There is a much better documentary which can be made with the same material.

Dr. Lewis could make a compelling case about the fairness of the death penalty because of the very real evidence connecting brain injuries and crime. There is probably 15 minutes on this topic which could make you think.

Unfortunately, there’s over an hour of other stuff. It starts as a biography of Dr. Lewis, then a treatise on DID, then brain injury, back to the biography, and back and forth forever.

Ultimately, I asked myself before it was over, “what does this documentary want me to think about?” I still don’t have the answer.

There is also a complete lack of skepticism which is required for a good documentary. For me to believe Dr. Lewis, I need to hear all of the strongest arguments against her work and have them taken apart. You only hearing passing references to the criticism. In fact, Dr. Lewis at times seems a bit…out there. She basically loses it in a courtroom at one point and the documentary shrugs it off as, “Dorothy doesn’t think linearly, and you have to go with it.”

That’s basically how the documentary is. Oh wait, maybe that was the point.


This is way too all over the place to be very good. Watch it here!

If You Liked This Try:

Crazy Not Insane (HBO)