Like [psychologist David] Weeks (p. 137), we have found that the dividing line is not clear-cut, that is, between functional eccentrics and those who have a (history of ) mental disorder. Some of our artists demonstrate both. Their quirks not withstanding, settled, contented eccentrics should not be labeled as mentally ill in the absence of current distress or dysfunction.
Mental disorders purported to cause or accompany eccentricity in at least some instances include cyclothymic and bipolar disorders, Asperger’s disorder, schizotypal and schizoid personality dis-orders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. Weeks did not report on mood disorders in his subjects.
Nancy Andreasen, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist, has shown a strong association between mood disorders and creative writing ability (“The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius,” New York: Dana Press, 2005). In one of her studies, 24 of 30 professional writers (80%) had mood disorders; none were schizophrenic. (Andreasen was not studying eccentricity, but this striking link between creativity and mood disorder is pertinent.)
Anyone else think Google is too aggressive in their efforts to push users into their social network? I just had a problem getting into Gmail from the Google browser. Damn thing was insistent that I fill out my public profile to make it easier for friends to find me. Wouldn't let me navigate anywhere else. Wouldn't allow me to decline.
Kevin Alexander and Matt Lynch offer a list of the 44 worst people encountered in restaurants. One complaint is about the person who "over-pronounces" names of ethnic items:
Do you really think that by calling prosciutto “pra-shoot” that the Italian waiter will go back to the kitchen and regale the chefs with praise-filled stories of the man at table 16?
That isn't exactly how we say prosciutto in my family, but I believe that's their attempt at the phonetic spelling of the typical 20th century, Southern-Italian immigrant pronunciation.
When I'm thinking of Italian foods, either the New York immigrant or the standard Italian pronunciations come to my mind first. These are the pronunciations that I still use with my family and my Italian-American friends. Outside the family, it took me a long time to say manicotti like a non-Italian because I felt self-conscious using the American pronunciation. I don't think I'd even encountered that pronunciation until I was a teenager.
Anyway, my point is that when you hear those accented pronunciations, don't assume the person ordering is trying to impress the waiter. A few million people have come by those pronunciations honestly and use them without thinking about it.
I was delighted to discover the critically acclaimed 1994 documentary, Crumb, offered for free in Youtube Movies.
Crumb explores the life of controversial, underground cartoonist, Robert Crumb. This is a must-see for clinicians and a fascinating film for anyone else interested in the border area between eccentric genius and madness.
Well, not my life exactly, but while looking through a New York historic image site, I found this photo taken at the Catholic school I attended, though this is 1959, before my tenure commenced. Come to think of it, my youngest aunt would have been an 8th grade student at the school when this photo was taken.
The girls are wearing habits identical to those worn by the nuns at our school before they streamlined the outfit some time post Vatican II. The pastor of the church, a monsignor, wore an outfit like the kid on the right and I'm not sure why the boy on the left is wearing a religious habit. We didn't have monks or friars.
I wonder where they got the tiny outfits. They do look correct in all the details.
“Masters of Sex,” which started strong, has stagnated into the same half-dozen or so themes over and over — Sex is science, sex is emotion, sex follows a script, sex never follows a script, blah blah blah. Will Dr. Masters overcome his emotional repression? Will Virginia Johnson get the respect she craves? We interrupt this repetition to display Lizzy Caplan’s naked breasts again. We interrupt those breasts to show you the saucy blonde secretary’s breasts again. And so on.
Also, I’m tired of these allegedly period shows dumping 21st-century language and attitudes hither and yon when it suits the writers. The previews for next week show one character raging, “I’m just an organ donor to you people,” a neat trick for 1959 or thereabouts, when organ transplantation was in its very earliest days and the phrase “organ donor” was hardly in common usage.
I'm familiar with some of Alec Baldwin's cruel outbursts and some of his dopey public statements, but I don't know the man and don't really care about him. So, to be clear, I'm not posting to defend Alec Baldwin, nor do I claim to know whether or not he's a bigot. In this post, he's just a device for discussion.
At my most clearheaded, I would hesitate to make sweeping judgments about a person based on what they might say during an angry meltdown, other than that they may be subject to fits of rage. It isn't that the words are meaningless, but words uttered in such moments don't necessarily define the so-called true character of a person.
Consider emotionally volatile couples. Are the worst words said in the heat of anger the essential truth about their attitudes and feelings toward one another? What about the positive and loving things they might otherwise say? Are the latter false, an act, a pretense?