In Praise of Eccentricity

Found on the Net:

Weeks’ aim is to encourage the acceptance and cultivation of eccentricity in society, he said, and where necessary, he also hopes to familiarize mental health workers with eccentricity as a condition distinct from mental illness. This new understanding, he believes, will prevent patients from being wrongfully committed to mental hospitals when they are simply eccentric (an infrequent but not unheard-of scenario, Weeks said).

While eccentrics may exhibit one or two symptoms that are consistent with mental illness, they retain a hold on reality and have insight into their own behavior, he said. The psychologist has identified 20 traits indicating that a person may be eccentric.

A much-needed turnaround. Ever read the psychiatric literature, especially the older stuff from say the 1930’s? I am reading some right now. Check out the case studies. Damn those guys had some rigid ideas about how a healthy person should live their life. I think the mental health field needs to get away from microscopically examining everyone to look for hidden signs of maladaptive or unhealthy behavior, poor adjustment, oddness, or just not doing what you’re supposed to do, whatever the Hell that might be.

We should be looking at people for signs of healthy and adaptive behavior, good adjustment at least in some areas and and overall functionality. If can function pretty well, you can’t be all that nuts. Wouldn’t that be cool? Instead of getting out the DSM whenever anyone shows up, we should have a Mental Health Manual where we go down and check lists of healthy and adaptive behaviors, decent adjustment and especially ability to function decently in society. We could give people mental health diagnoses instead of mental illness diagnoses. That would be so boss!

Eccentricity means different things. If a Normie ever calls you eccentric, watch out. They will say it as they shake their head fatalistically or frown dismissively.

They mean you are nuts, and they think that sucks. And that you suck, sort of.

I am not sure if they mean you are really nuts. Normies aren’t all idiots. Normies are assholes, but they’re not necessarily dumb. They might mean that you are not nuts enough to be seriously crazy, and you might still be able to function pretty well in some areas, but you’re definitely not normal at all. You’re weird. You’re odd. You’re strange. And there’s nothing a Normie hates worse.

If any Normie ever insults you like that, just end the damn friendship right there. I am serious. They’re never going to like you. Not ever. It’s dead, Jim. Sure, you can stay friends with them, but they will be frenemies, and the friendship will suck. I have had scores of sucky friendships. The Hell with it. I’d rather be alone. At least when I’m alone, I’m hanging around with someone who likes me.

There are other people who are ok with eccentricity, and they may even cultivate it themselves. I have had some girlfriends tell me that I’m eccentric, but they were crazy in love with me at the time, so it wasn’t an insult. Usually someone who doesn’t mind your eccentricity is at least a little that way themselves. They are often in the arts somehow – artists, writers, dancers, musicians, actors – if only as fans, hangers on or hobbyists. In the arts, eccentricity is often a cultivated and desired state. When an artist calls you eccentric, that’s probably a compliment!

Anyway, I would like to see more tolerance for eccentricity in society and I hope people would quit calling eccentrics crazy. I know they won’t. but one can always hope. And of course clinicians should learn what’s non-pathological eccentricity and what’s pathological mental disorder. And if you’re eccentric, and you can’t seem to figure out how to not be eccentric no matter how hard you try (my boat), you really need to embrace it and quit beating yourself up. Quit calling yourself weird, nuts, crazy, strange, odd or disturbed. You’re none of those things. Accept your eccentricity as you accept any other things about yourself and embrace and incorporate it into your identity in a positive way.

1 Comment

Filed under Mental Illness, Personality, Psychology, Psychopathology, Psychotherapy

One response to “In Praise of Eccentricity

  1. Unless you want the entire population deemed as eccentric and treated, just forget it. None of us is without fault in our thinking and in our decisions. By the way, how many thinking errors do we get to make, in making decisions, according to self appointed experts.

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