Making A Difference In The Word – Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized Video and Lyrics

Sometimes due to something someone says, or something I read somewhere, a distant memory of me sitting in a government office applying for an educational grant pops into my head. Part of the necessary criteria to receive the grant money was for me to pass a psychological evaluation, which I did end up passing, thankfully, though one of my responses to the scripted verbal questioning did give my interviewer pause. He asked me “Do you think you can change the world ?”

I replied “No”

I could tell this was bothersome to him, and a moment later he said “Hmmm”

“What ?” I asked

He said “That is not the correct answer, you are supposed to feel that You can change the world.”

I thought about it a bit, and had a look at what I could see of him as I did it, sitting in this non-nondescript white walled concrete office on the second floor on the ten story building, with a standard government desk, surrounded by thousands of other similar offices, each with their own desk and similarly dressed people with similar haircuts sitting behind them, all arriving at the same time each day, and going home at the same time as well. We were surrounded by many similar buildings, in a little town, that is not even listed on a map of the country, let alone the world, and I felt that he also could not change the world.

“Really ?” I asked.

He replied “Yes, you are supposed to feel you can change the world.”

Ostrich With Its Head In The Sand

Ignoring Reality

I didn’t know exactly what to say to him, my thoughts were all over the place, and I felt it was ludicrous to think you could “change the world”, obviously his paper said I was a lunatic for thinking I couldn’t. I guess one would also have to define what you mean by changing it, with every breath I was changing the atmosphere just a little bit from oxygen with carbon dioxide, but real lasting change was pretty much impossible, even if you somehow managed to change the entire world for a day, it would not last for a millennium, and if somehow it could last that long, would it last a few googolplex?

So I replied simply with a non questioning, and hopefully dismissive, “Huh.”

He asked me why I thought I couldn’t change the world, and I explained to him that I used to think I could make a difference, but a few years before when I visited India, I had tried to help some of the poor, hungry people around me by quietly giving my own money and food to them. People saw this, and a crowd formed around me in seconds, it was like a swarm, their hands were all around me, the people that I had given a handout to already, would not leave the crowd. Some people started pushing and they were all asking for money. With no path for me to walk out, I was forced to push my way out, and then had to run to get away from them all.  I think I came to the conclusion as I ran down the road, past a seemingly never ending ocean of poor people, in a country that exports enormous amounts of food, even though it’s own people starve, that I could not make any real difference to India, let alone the world.

“Huh.” He said.

For some reason now, whenever I think of anyone being psychologically evaluated by others, I think of the following song. If you really listen to the lyrics, way down deep, there is some wisdom in there. If you aren’t into old school punk, you can just read the lyrics, but it just isn’t the same without the shouting in my opinion.

All he wanted was a Pepsi.

Enjoy !

Suicidal Tendencies – “Institutionalized” Lyrics


Sometimes I try to do things, and it just don’t turn out the way I wanted to
and I get real frustrated, it’s like, I take my time and I try real hard, but
no matter what I do and no matter what I try it never works out, it’s like I
concentrate on it real hard, but it never works out, it’s like I need some
time to figure these things out, but there’s always someone there going:
– Hey Mike, you know, we been noticing you’ve been having alot of problems
lately, you know, and like maybe you should talk about it, you’d feel alot
And I go:
– No, it’s ok, I now have some problems, I’ll figure it out myself, just
leave me alone I’ll figure it out.
And they go:
– Why don’t you talk about it, you’ll feel alot better?
And I go:
– No, I don’t want to, just leave me alone, I’ll figure it out myself!
And they keep on bugging me and it builds up inside, it builds up inside…

So you’re gonna be institutionalized
You’ll come out brainwashed with bloodshot eyes
You won’t have any say
They’ll brainwash you until you see their way

I’m not crazy – institutionalized
You’re the one who’s crazy – institutionalized
You’re driving me crazy – institutionalized

They stuck me in an institution
Said it was the only solution
To give me the needed professional help
To protect me from the enemy, myself

I was sitting in my room, and I was like staring at the walls thinking about
everything but then again I was thinking about nothing, and then my mom came
in and I didn’t notice she was there and she calls my name and I didn’t hear
her and then she started screaming:
– Mike, Mike!
And I go:
– What, what’s the matter?
She goes:
– What’s the matter with you?
I say:
– Nothing mom.
She goes:
– Don’t tell me nothing, you’re on drugs!
I go:
– No mom, I’m not on drugs, I’m ok, I’m just thinking, you know, why don’t
you get me a Pepsi?
She goes:
– No, you’re on drugs, you’re crazy, normal people won’t be acting that way!
I go:
– Mom, I’m all right, I’m just thinking, you know, so why don’t you, like
give me a Pepsi?
And she goes:
– No, you’re crazy!
All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me,
just one Pepsi.

They give you a white shirt with long sleeves
Tied around you’re back, you’re treated like thieves
Drug you up because they’re lazy
It’s too much work to help a crazy

I’m not crazy – institutionalized
You’re the one who’s crazy – institutionalized
You’re driving me crazy – institutionalized

They stuck me in an institution
Said it was the only solution
To give me the needed professional help
To protect me from the enemy, myself

I was sitting in my room and my mom and my dad came in and they pulled up a
chair and they sat down, they go:
– Mike, we need to talk to you.
And I said:
– Okay, what’s the matter?
They go:
– Well me and your mom, we been noticing lately you’ve been having alot of
problems, and you haven’t been acting like yourself, and we’re afraid that
you’re going to hurt somebody, and we’re afraid that you’re gonna hurt
yourself, so we decided that it would be in your best interest if we put
you somewhere where you could get the help that you need…
And I said:
– Wait, what are we talking about?! We decided?! My best interest?! How can
you know, how can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to
say? I’m crazy? When I went to your schools, I went to your churches, I
went to your institutional learning facilities. So how can you say that I’m

They say they’re gonna fix my brain
Alleviate my suffering and my pain
But by the time they fix my head
Mentally I’ll be dead

I’m not crazy – institutionalized
You’re the one who’s crazy – institutionalized
You’re driving me crazy – institutionalized

They stuck me in an institution
Said it was the only solution
To give me the needed professional help
To protect me from the enemy, myself

It doesn’t matter, i’m trying to get hit by a car anyway.

8 Responses to Making A Difference In The Word – Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized Video and Lyrics

  1. Awesome post! I’ve always been able to relate to that Suicidal Tendencies song, too. Love it! I can best answer this question by quoting Ten Years After: “I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do, So I leave it up to you.”

  2. @kris landt
    Great song Kris, one of those songs I have heard a million times, and liked it, but never really listened until now to know what it was about.

    Glad you liked the post !

  3. PBS, if it’s any comfort I probably would’ve answered No as well. Or maybe quoted AR Ammons: “The quickest way to change the world is to like the way it is.”

  4. @nothingprofound
    If you would have answered “No” as well then I am in some great company.

    Nice quote NP, I wonder what the guy would have said if I had turned the question around on him and asked “Why? What do you feel needs changing ?”

    I am afraid there are some parts of human nature that I do not like, namely it’s greedy, dominating, destructive side, but the world itself is awesome, and I feel not a rock needs to be shifted.

  5. Great post. I’m not sure how I feel about the question, myself. I guess I DO think people can change the world, though not in that sort of starry-eyed ‘I can do anything!’ sort of way. I’m thinking more like tThomas Crapper, the guy who invented the toilet, or J.K. Rolwing and her Harry Potter books. As for me personally? I guess I might still do something that could turn the world on its head, but it’s not a goal of mine. I just want to be happy and bring happiness to those around me.

  6. @Janene
    Thanks for the comment Janene,

    Although I stated my honest beliefs in the post, I can not bear to look at my version of true bare reality all the time, and happily spend most of my time with my head in the sand hoping I can change the world somehow. If I didn’t I probably would not spend so much time blogging about some things that bother me. I do feel I might be able to make a difference in my time, but I have no idea how I might go about doing it. Raising my son properly seems like the best way to start though.

    I had an acquaintance of mine tell me a few months ago that he was making a real difference in the world, I asked him what he did, and found out he was involved in marketing consumer goods. It kind of annoyed me that he thought just because he had a large audience that he was making a positive difference in the world, and the event kind of got stuck in my head. That is what inspired this post.

    I have another friend of mine that leads a team which develops vaccines for some nasty sicknesses, he might make a real difference in the world, if he hasn’t already, and yet as long as I have known him, he has never ever bragged about his work.

  7. I think you need to be institutionalized if you think you can change the world.
    Maybe make a difference but change it? No.
    That would have been my answer as well.

    And I never really paid attention to these lyrics either until now.

  8. @AngieA
    Thank’s Angie,

    That is the way I felt about it also, but since it seemed to be some sort of official test given by my government, I found it all to be a bit disturbing. Maybe the yes and no answers were no the important part and the explanation of the Why was, who knows.

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