Social Question

SuperMouse's avatar

Why do you think it is that many breakdowns by well-known figures include public nudity?

Asked by SuperMouse (30798points) March 19th, 2012

This morning I saw the NSFW video of Jason Russell of Kony 2012 fame parading around the streets of San Diego in his birthday suit having a very public meltdown. We have all seen this type of thing before and it begs the question: why do public breakdown’s so often include total nudity? Give us your best theory.

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16 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Nudity is freedom – it is not being bound by clothing which binds and constrains a person.

The symbolic meaning of nudity is that a person has thrown off the ropes of society and is utterly unencumbered. This is a good thing.

Sometimes I walk naked in my home for the very same reason – why should I have to play by some rules society has placed on me?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If you’re going to let it all out, you might as well let it all out.

wundayatta's avatar

There’s a schizophrenic guy in my group who once went into a women’s room at a department store and took off all his clothes. He had been following a woman and he had the delusion that this woman was madly in love with him and would make mad passionate love with him on the floor.

Most mentally ill people I talk to have an issue with love. It is hard to feel loved when we feel so horrible about ourselves. The symbol of love for most men, I believe, is sex. So when you take off your clothes, you are opening yourself up to be ready for the love you crave and maybe even, at that manic moment, deserve.

It is difficult to express the depth of this need. It can feel like the only thing that can save your life. I had the sound off when watching that clip, so I don’t know the sound goes along with what I saw in his body language.

He was walking in a very agitated way, like he was looking for something or expecting something. I don’t know what he thought he was looking for, but I’ll bet what he really wanted was to be loved.

If he is the Kony 2012 guy, then that would fit, too. People seek attention mostly because they never feel like they are good enough. Then need the attention and the status in order to prove to themselves they are lovable and loved. It is a never-ending battle.

john65pennington's avatar

Ever heard of drug-induced delirium?

Cocaine is usually the drug of choice.

It makes people go nude and uncontrollable.

Jude's avatar

Publicity stunt for this dude?

marinelife's avatar

@Jude I don’t think so. I think the sudden pressure and the strong public scrutiny did a number of hos head.

I think taking his clothes off was an attempt at taking off his identity as the filmmaker.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s the only way a celebrity can guarantee media coverage anymore in that jaded circus town.

keobooks's avatar

Some drugs—especially meth and coke, can affect how your skin feels. You get a creepy sensation of bugs crawling on you or everything that touches you makes you itch like crazy. Some drug addicts will get to a point where they are unable to bathe because the water feels too itchy on their skin.

I was talking to my husband about this and he was saying that it can be a form of tactile hallucinations and people with mental illness not related to drugs can get this too. So I wonder sometimes if people will get naked because they lose their inhibitions about it, and the crawling skin sensation makes wearing clothing unbearable.

GoldieAV16's avatar

Can you think of a better non-violent way of screaming, “Something is very wrong here – HELP ME!”?

I can’t. It’s a sure attention-getter and the result will be immediate containment, a very desirable option to spiraling totally out of control.

jca's avatar

The ones with nudity and sexting are the ones that make the headlines. There are a lot of other issues public figures (i.e. politicians) have, such as theft, bribery, etc., but the ones involving adultery and nudity are the ones that are headline grabbers, sensationalist, funny, fun to watch, ratings grabbers.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’d say public breakdowns rarely include total nudity. Knowing about a few anecdotes doesn’t justify the conclusion that it happens often. So what about the reason of these rare cases? A dramatic way of screaming for help, perhaps.

keobooks's avatar

@mattbrowne My husband is a mental health professional who works with people with severe mental illness (IE they live in group homes or have a lot of outside help and supervision so they can live on their own) I was surprised that getting naked in public was more common than I thought it was. It’s not a daily on the job thing for his, but many of his clients have gotten taken in by the police for public nudity. Usually its the major sign that they had a total psychotic break and are hospitalized for a while after it happens.

Also wanted to say that I’ve been told by other folk who work in nursing homes that people with severe dementia will also get naked on a not too infrequent basis if they can physically manage it. They can also end up wandering around outside that way if they are not properly supervised. Many people with dementia also have an issue with not wanting to bathe, or brush their hair because they dislike the sensation of water.

My own toddler daughter is obsessed with getting naked. She will strip down at any possible moment. We have had to go to the extreme of duct taping her diaper, shoes or pants on. Sometimes just buttoning her onesie on the outside of her pants is enough to keep her clothes on. I certainly don’t think she’s mentally ill. But I think she may strip for the same reasons mentally ill and people with dementia do it. She doesn’t like the way the clothes feel and she hasn’t developed the inhibition yet to not do it.

I don’t personally think it’s a cry for help because almost all of his clients who have done this were too far gone on a psychotic run to even notice that they were in public or naked when they got caught. That’s why I think it’s a more physical thing about not wanting to wear clothes than a plea for attention. My husband has told me that some of his clients will even refuse to believe that they got naked in public after they are on their meds and more themselves.

Cruiser's avatar

@keobooks I had similar struggles with my youngest where I would get him dressed to go out and 5 minutes later he would be sitting on the floor in his underwear. Finally at age 6 we came to find out he had sensory processing disorder and one aspect of the disorder was his sense of touch was so acute that certain fabrics were simply overwhelming to his young skin. So we just let him wear sweat clothes all the time and guess what….no more clothing battles. Happy kid happy parents. Now at almost 13, fleece is still his choice of fabric.

dalepetrie's avatar

I’ve always kind of suspected that the kind of people who are drawn to the spotlight are often exhibitionists who crave attention.

mattbrowne's avatar

@keobooks – I understand what you’re saying. Fairly common is relative. When we just look at very unusual behavior, nudity could indeed be quite common compared to other unusual behavior. Yet given that 1% of the population suffers from schizophrenia at least once in their life and 3–4% suffer from depression we are talking millions of people, most of which keep on their clothes outside of their homes. That was the point I was trying to make.

keobooks's avatar

@mattbrowne You DO have a point there. And I have to remember that my husband is already working with a population that gives me a skewed perspective. Most of his clients are under his care BECAUSE they do stuff like get naked in public. So of course he is way more likely to see stuff like that on a day to day basis.

It would be like if I claimed most cows were purple because my husband worked for the Purple Cow Society and saw them all the time.

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