How do some players get their wounds and other menaces over 8 without dying/going mad?

There are two equipable items that decrease nightmares. Cheerful goldfish and bejeweled cane. There’s cheap buyable clothing that decrease suspicion by one as well. But for scandal and wounds, you can’t do anything about them.
edited by suinicide on 8/15/2016

I briefly recall seeing someone with a menace level 22 or something…

Another way to exceed the usual menace limits is zailing. Certain islands won’t send you away if your menaces get too high, the Iron Republic is the example I remember for sure but there are others. You can get your menaces as high as you want in these places without consequences. Of course, if you return to London without fixing yourself up your in trouble.

You can also do this by gaining menaces while already in a menace state. This is primarily done by failing checks on static storylets. Losing chess games against the boatman for example.
edited by An Individual on 8/15/2016

Thank you. This clears things up a bit.

A legend.