11 March 2007

How Nuts Is That?


The temps crested the freezing mark and the snow has begun to abate. Sunlight itself shone in our skies for more than two days. My mood is definitely better. So much so that I eagerly headed outside yesterday to chop the ice from my driveway.

That sounds odd, I guess, but we all have those off chores that somehow give us glee in the doing. For me, prying slabs of ice off the concrete is oddly satisfying. I think it’s because when they come up the surface below is clean and even dry. For someone whose desk is often full and whose dresser if constantly heaped with stuff, that I would be so charmed by this bit of neatness is intriguing. When I think about it, there is only one other place I am so fastidious – at the gym.

Every day I go in I cannot stop myself from putting all the dumbbells back in their proper position, even though it takes more time and by the next day (sometimes within the hour) they are scattered like legos again. I used to think setting a good example would lead to general compliance, but after months with no response (even the staff who are supposed to set a good example don’t) I still cannot stop myself.

Outside, I cannot stop until all the ice is removed. Yesterday I was out there three different times, allowing the sun to help, until all but the most truculent slabs had been dispatched. Arriving home from church today I felt the urge to go out and finish it up, but chose to write about it first.

More and more I am convinced that mental illnesses are not difference in kind but in degree. Were I to go right to the dumbbell rack or the show shovel, finding them irresistible, that would make it a compulsion. That I can tolerate messiness is so many other places and not here, only makes it more peculiar not less. But since I can resist, it is merely odd not sick. I feel the desire, though, and cannot explain it or deny it.

Similarly, I watch my very sociable young son and realize again how uneasy I am in parties and gatherings, like the fund raiser we attended last night. It’s pleasant enough, but the idea of chatting with people, meeting them, listening to them FOR NO REASON makes me crazy. I end up sitting alone a lot, standing alone as well. Were I more affected, I could be considered ‘on the autistic spectrum.’

Looking at other quirks, sometimes I am lost in thought and literally do not hear others outside and only the voice in my head. I could easily spend hours in that state, and those that do are on their way to schizophrenia. No question that my elder son and I share my father’s melancholic temperament, which if it got entrenched some might call depression.

This is not a plea for understanding but on observation that pathology and health are really quite close to each other. Who among us does not have the makings of a first rate psychopath or sociopath? None. Alfred Adler, disciple of Freud and creator of “the inferiority complex” once claimed that he could not cure a sadist of his desires but could help turn him into a good butcher and make a really intelligent one into a surgeon.

Sound creepy? Get past it. You were looking for an uplifting conclusion. That I will resist this time. Good practice.

1 comment:

Roger Schwarz, MFT, JD said...

W.F.W. I happened on your post searching for the quote from Alfred Adler about turning a sadist into a butcher. Why I wanted to be reminded of this eludes me since it happened minutes ago when I was still enjoying letting my mind wander. Anyhow, nice to discover your blogs. If you like, read my blog titled Faith, yes Faith! on by web site rogerschwarz.com and comment. Roger Schwarz