Wind Madness

July 5, 2007 at 5:55 am (Uncategorized)

As the wind rages along the coast outside, it occurs to me that sometimes being caught in a big wind drives me really quite mad, so I googled ‘wind madness’ just now and was relieved to find I am not the only one: there were over 2 million matches. One of these took me straight back to a subject of a few days ago – the Andes – so armed with it and Joe Simpson’s reflections, I can safely say I’m going to give mountaineering a miss. Too much potential for total insanity…oh and, er, death.

According to this glutton for punishment, wind madness might even have an official name: anemomania. Last Sunday, my parents-in-law presented me with an awesome belated graduation gift: a gigantic Macquarie Dictionary fourth edition. It smells lovely. So, as I officially crack the spine for the first time (okay, I fanned the pages on Sunday…), let’s look up anemomania and see what it says…

Absolutely nothing. How anticlimactic. But it does have anemo- : a word element meaning ‘wind,’ as in anemometer. [Greek, combining form of anemos wind]

Then we have anemogram, anemograph, anemometer, and, um, anemone, at which point we’re already totally off topic (except not… literally it means daughter of the wind). I wonder if ‘fear of wind’ is anemophobia…? At any rate, as I glance down that list on page 50 of my brand new dictionary, I am rather alarmed by the number of words whose meaning I do not know. I am, after all, someone who should have a better than average grasp of the language. That’s what this whole ‘doctor’ malarky is about. There’s some comfort in the italicised qualifier archaic, for the word ‘anent,’ because it’s no longer in common usage, but what about anergy? I honestly didn’t know until just now it meant a deficiency of energy or a lack of immunity to an antigen. Actually, quite a lot on this list is rather medical. You can see how easily you might get distracted, going in to look up ‘wind madness’ only to find yourself suddenly confronting the horrors of ‘the congenital absence, either wholly or partially, of the brain’ (‘anencephaly,’ noun) or an ‘abnormality in the number of chromosomes (that would be ‘aneuploidy,’ noun). How utterly hideous. Moving right along, then…

So do I have wind madness? Sometimes. Sometimes being out on a windy day makes me very cross. But other times I love it. I love the blustery strength of it throwing me off course, I love its absolute disregard for my appearance (I suppose because it allows me to care less about it myself), I love its operatic aural range. But most of all I love it – really love it – when I’m on Katie and Peter’s boat, and we’re all out sailing together somewhere near Lion Island, and we look out toward the horizon and watch the wind race toward us across the water. You can see it. The force of the wind blackens the water as it bears along to meet us, so the wind looks like it’s casting a shadow as it approaches, or like it’s some inky creature approaching us from beneath the surface of the waves. It’s very exciting, and just thinking of it makes me realise I wouldn’t be without my wind madness after all.



  1. AdvanyBeday said,

    Super information – hope to come back again..

  2. doctordi said,

    Thanks! Glad to be of help!

  3. Mikeharvey said,

    Hey from Toronto, Canada

    Just a quick hello from as I’m new to the board. I’ve seen some interesting posts so far.

    To be honest I’m new to forums and computers in general 🙂


  4. SarannaDeWylde said,

    No, it’s actually not that uncommon. I was researching it myself today for a book I’m working on. I live in Kansas and back when the first settlers came here, some who were left alone too long were driven mad by the wind. I don’t know if the cases with women were reported more often than cases with men, but it seems to affect women much more often than men. The brightest thread of commonality between cases was that the victims said they heard voices in the wind.

  5. Steve said,

    There is a reference to wind madness and amenomania in a book I read on the Antarctic explorer Shackleton. (See Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage p.113). See also Dorothy Scarborough’s novel, The Wind, about a woman who goes crazy from the wind on the great plains. (This novel was made into a movie starring Lilian Gish.)

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