Friday, November 16, 2012

#131. Individuals Who Are Curious, Creative and Want to Make the World Better... Are Not Well?

ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts: 

Blog entries beginning with #101 are not essays but minimally-edited notes and reviews from the files I've collected over the last few decades. I no longer have the time and energy needed to sort out and put together into decent essay-form the many varied ideas in these files, but I would like to share them with all who are interested.

If you have questions and think I might help, you're welcome to send me a note:

Post #131 is about the traits of healthy individuals who are "themselves" rather than what the patriarchal culture would like them to be. It's a helpful, but not-quite positive, description of the shamanic personality as it's seen from a mechanistic sociology perspective. We have a ways to go yet!


Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness, by David Weeks and Jamie James (Kodansha Globe, 1996).

Definition: Eccentricity is departure from the norm, behavior and attitudes different from the average, the exact opposite of “staid, right-thinking establishment” views, perspectives, actions.


Distinction from madness: Eccentricity differs from mental illness: while both show behavior outside the norm, neurotics for example are subject to panic, anxiety, phobias, etc. and want to be cured, whereas eccentrics to some extent choose their behavior and enjoy it. Also, while psychotics are powerless in the face of their voices and visions, eccentrics can to some extent control their visions and in fact enjoy them. The mentally ill have little or no choice, eccentrics do.


Main Traits of eccentrics:
1) Non-conformity = departure from the norm or average.
2) Curiosity. They ask why, seek to understand, and “think” in imagery as do children (but don’t stop doing so as they mature). Note that curiosity is the only purely intellectual motivation and is its own reward.
3) Creativity. Eccentrics are gifted and original. Want to try new things, to experiment. Have (obviously strong intuitive) ability to enter into and identify with the problem (issue/whatever). Interested in creativity for its own sake. Creative people fall into three main areas: scientists-inventors, artists, and the religiously creative.
4) Desire to improve things. Eccentrics are idealists and want to make things better for people. They want to make the world better.


Other traits:
5) Tend to have several often non-related interest-consuming obsessions going simultaneously.
6). Know they are different from an early age.
7) Have higher than average IQ.
8) Have strong opinions and tend to be outspoken about stating them.
9) Non-competitive. They often find others petty, banal, boring, selfish, hypocritical, and thus do not need reinforcement or reassurance from society.

10) Often are first or only children, and bad spellers.


Health: Contrary to common view, eccentrics tend to be in good mental health, even above average. Apparently, because they are less susceptible to stress which comes from feelings of needing to conform.

Stress affects the endocrine system, which interacts with and is in balance with the nervous system and immune system; therefore, less stress, more immunity. Eccentrics by definition don’t care about conforming, and they tend to avoid situations where failure is likely, or they simply ignore it.


Speech: Eccentrics tend to be fluent in language. Moreover: they show, far less than the norm, those speech defects known by linguists as “derailment” and “loss of goal.” I.e., they digress far less than average people do.

They are “dogged in reaching their goals,” not letting themselves get lost in their train of thought the way average people often allow to happen and crazy people can’t help happening. (This is considered to be a disorder, because to be “mildly deficient in normal digressiveness is a trait possessing positive, cooperative social value.”)


Sex differences:
With regard to “self-referencing” speech: the more intelligent male eccentrics are, the less they tend to talk about themselves, whereas the more intelligent female eccentrics are, the more they tend to talk about themselves.
With regard to digression: eccentric males tend to digress less than eccentric females.


The need for eccentricity:
The mental health traits of eccentrics are greatly needed in a society such as ours where mass culture produces such intense boredom and deep feelings of powerlessness: the energetic, enthusiastic interests of eccentrics-- feelings of being young and playing-- tend to dissipate previous feelings of rejection, anger, unfairness.
In any society there is always need for innovation and fresh ideas. Diversity (i.e., psycho-diversity, analogous to bio-diversity) is required for every kind of social evolution and adaptation to changing conditions.


A personal comment:

Eccentricity would seem to be the very opposite of negative patriarchal and hierarchical perspectives. And to the extent that those perspectives are compulsive, they would seem to have a lot in common with mental illness.

As Thomas Berry says, “Ours is the most pathological of all cultures, ever.” It's so pathological it sees healthy personalities as pathological!


No comments: