What is a word which describes when a person loses it, when they reach their limit or pass the tipping point? I'm trying to use it to describe a person's transition from sane to insane. For example,

Dick Prosser's (transition to insanity) was accompanied by a ...

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    Are you "going nuts" for a border-line answer? ;-D (Great question, +1) – Randolf Richardson Nov 6 '11 at 1:12
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    I would definitely use that in conversation (+1), but unfortunately this is for a formal paper. Slang is a no-no. (lol) – Daniel G. Wilson Nov 6 '11 at 1:16

You might use breakdown or crack-up.

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    Breakdown sounds right to me. It stands in for mental breakdown. Maybe crack-up is okay for some (Americans?), but it sounds a bit a bit "flip" to me. – FumbleFingers Nov 5 '11 at 23:04
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    @FumbleFingers (+1): I agree -- "breakdown" seems serious while "crack-up" seems more casual and possibly comedic. – Randolf Richardson Nov 6 '11 at 9:33

How about derangement / derailment?

Dick Prosser's derailment was accompanied by...


How about

Dick Prosser's descent into insanity was accompanied by...


One could use the gerund of to increase or a similar verb that takes insanity as its object.

Dick Prosser's increasing insanity was accompanied by...

  • I'm trying to represent the actual moment when he becomes insane, not the journey towards insanity. – Daniel G. Wilson Nov 6 '11 at 20:54

Unhinged 'He became unhinged after his recent divorce.' Means upset to the Nth degree. But not certifiable(a candidate for commitment to a mental hospital). Not wrapped tight is a more recent colloquial phrase--means prone to mental disintegration. e.g., 'He's not wrapped tight'. A phrase I use is both old and funny and never fails to provoke amusement: 'He's taken leave of his senses'--means he's completely obsessed with some nutty enterprise or other. e.g., 'That women he wants to marry already has four small children from three fathers and she's only 24 years old. I do believe he has taken leave of his senses.'

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