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Neurotics - A Motley Crew

A neurotic is loosely speaking someone affected with a neurosis; an emotionally unstable individual; or just anyone who worries a lot.

A neurosis is a mental and emotional disorder involving distress - typically within socially acceptable limits. A neurosis may in part be understood as an inability to change one's life patterns and develop a more complex, more satisfying personality.

C. George Boeree, professor emeritus at Shippensburg University, holds that the symptoms of neurosis may involve such as irritability, compulsive acts, lethargy, negativity and cynicism and so on. Interpersonally they are marked by aggressiveness and more.

The American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has dropped using the category "neurosis" since it is understood by way of subtler psychological mechanisms. Hence, neurosis is not used in psychiatric diagnosis in USA.

Delineation: A neurosis affects only part of the personality; is accompanied by a less distorted perception of reality than in a psychosis; does not result in disturbance of the use of language; and is accompanied by various disturbances, such as phobias.

Sigmund Freud and Carl G. Jung both redefined the term, and it became quite a household word. Also, Karen Horney (pronounced /horney/) laid out a complete theory of neurosis (1950). In Horney's view, even mild anxiety disorders fall under her basic scheme of neurosis.

According to freudians, thoughts and behaviors that produce difficulties in one's life can be called neuroses, whereas psychosis refers to a loss of touch with reality. They are both defined otherwise than neuroticism, which is a fundamental personality trait in the Big Five factor model and in psychological theory.

Carl Jung found his approach fit for patients who were well adjusted by social standards but were troubled by existential questions; inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life; lost faith; or vague apprehensions and a large array of neuroses. He held the view that there are collective neuroses in politics: "Our world is, so to speak, dissociated like a neurotic."

Karen Horney's theory in a nutshell

In her final book, Neurosis and Human Growth, Karen Horney laid out a complete theory of neurosis as a distorted way of looking at the world and at oneself, a way determined by compulsive needs rather than by a genuine interest in the world as it is. She proposed that a neurosis is transmitted to a child from his or her early environment if the child's outlook on life is distorted by feigning or pretenses - and walking in such tracks gets awarded. The child starts to idealise his particular "solution" of his basic conflict - for example taming or compliance. Or a child's first reserve can lead to useful wisdom, self-sufficiency and autonomy if well retouched, regardless of its origin in having to retreat or step aside from good enough participation.

If pride is cultivated on the basis of developments that ensue a lack of firm foundation, vulnerabilities may arise, and as the child or young person grows to adulthood, a particular "solution" to all the inner conflicts and vulnerabilities will solidify or expand into perfectionism. In Horney's view, neuroses vary as to their degree of severity and in the individual dynamics.

The opposite of neurosis is a condition that Horney calls self-realization, that is, a state of being with great depth of spontaneous feelings rather than compulsion. The realising person grows to actualise his or her inborn potentialities. Horney compares this process to an acorn that grows and becomes a tree.

[Source for some of this: WP, "Neurosis" and "Neuroticism"]


59 Quotations on Neurotics

A considerable number of persons are able to protect themselves against the outbreak of serious neurotic phenomena only through intense work. [Karl Abraham, in The Psychoanalytic Reader: An Anthology of Essential Papers with Critical Introductions edited by Robert Fliess, 1948]

A neurosis may go for coping skill. [Kelli Jae Baeli, Too Much World]

A reason for neuroticism: regret. [With Shahrukh Ahmad]

A single neurotic is a tragedy, a million neurotics is statistics.

As we are human, we can't do what we can't do; as we're neurotic, we can't do what we can. [Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960]

Ask yourself: What do you really feel? And, what do you really want? If you can answer those two, you probably can leave your neuroses behind you. – With Harold Ramis]

At the beginning of a love affair, not even the neurotic is neurotic. [Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966]

Behind the scenes, neurotics could give vent to vindictiveness aligned to messed-up and ambitious thinking.

Bordering between neuroticism and dedication: commitment [Cf. Jeremy Aldana]

Faith turns easily into a form of neuroticism; that is a risk of such a bargain.

For in that city [New York] there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy. [Evelyn Waugh]

Firemen get a work where many are going to get killed. The same goes for policemen. Are they neurotic for it?

Great clarity makes us able to behave considerately. Lots of neurotics are hardly very good at that.

I prefer neurotic people. I like to hear rumblings beneath the surface. [Stephen Sondheim]

I am a sick man – oh . . . I care for nothing. [Jack London]

I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again 'I know that that's a tree', pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: 'This fellow isn't neurotic. We are only doing philosophy. Cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty]

If love is strong enough to tame you, beware of later neuroticism.

If you keep the ability to communicate your ideas, all is not lost to neuroticism.

If you think anyone is sane, maybe you just don't know enough about them. [With Christopher Moore, Practical Demonkeeping]

If you're going to be greatly neurotic, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up. [Hunter S. Thompson]

Imagination does not breed neuroticism. Exactly what does breed neuroticism is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do . . . and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom . . . the is danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. [G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy]

Imagine diagnosing personality only in terms of its negative aspects. Does this strike you as a strategy designed for health? . . . Get inside what positive motivation, what intention, makes you behave in . . . a healthier or at least more agreeable manner. America wants quick, easy and painless; being a real person is slow, difficult and very messy. [James Curcio, Join My Cult!]

Inventing things that work isn't neuroticism.

It is some response to reality to go neurotic.

Make the definition of neuroticism too narrow, and it becomes more or less meaningless; make it too wide, and so many are included.

Maybe everyone should talk to themselves. Maybe we're all just afraid of what we'd say. [Katie Kacvinsky, Awaken]

Most people thought he was neurotic when he looked up into the sky with a simple handmade telescope and cried out that the Earth revolves around the Sun, because this was four years ago. [Cf. Alex Bosworth, Chip Chip Chaw! ]

Neuroticism should not feel all bad once you beat up everyone who teases you about it. [Cf. Eve Langlais, A Demon and His Witch]

Neurotics are . . . looking for something new to overdo. [Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966]

Neurotics are feeding a multi-million dollar industry.

Neurotics rarely drop their acts.

Nobody sane loves working in an office, It's against human nature to be locked up in a cubicle all day long. [Peter Clines]

Old neuroticism may not be cured by an abundance of new marriages.

One can survive an inglorious reputation of being a neurotic and a funny guy alike.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. [Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness]

One who likes to have a father killed, a mother stained, could be Perhaps the neurotic was the misjudged minority of one. [Cf. George Orwell, 1984]

Psychiatrists classify a person as neurotic if he suffers from his problems in living, and as psychotic if he makes others suffer. [Thomas Szasz]

Religious fanaticism is a most dangerous form of neuroticism. [With Robert Graves, Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina]

Science plunders neuroticism.

Should we tolerate a lot of ignorance, superstition and stupidity it will hardly provide for a healthy advancement of our society, rationality, and common sense.

Somewhere between love and misunderstanding lies desperate hope.

The aim of psychoanalysis is to relieve people of their neurotic unhappiness so that they can be normally unhappy. [Sigmund Freud, attributed]

The belief that future happiness depends on a certain belief only is monstrous . . . too absurd for refutation. [With Robert G. Ingersoll, On the Gods and Other Essays]

The difference between good faith and neuroticism is that good faith leads to conclusions that are incongruent with evidence so far, while neuroticism leads to conclusions that are incompatible with evidence. [Cf. William Harwood, Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology]

The dismissive "I don't understand these persons, so they're greatly neurotic'" is bullshit. These people may be strong people and those around them a little sick. [Cf. Dave Chappelle]

The neurotic doesn't know how to cope with his emotional bills; some he keeps paying over and over, others he never pays at all. [Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960]

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they're ok, then it's you. [Rita Mae Brown]

The unconscious infections of groups of so-called normal people can be subtle and very dangerous. [Cf. Carl G. Jung, The Integration of the Personality]

There are certain people in whom you can sense possibly neurotic seeds- seeds remaining dormant only because the people in question have lived relatively comfortable, middle class lives. They function well in the world until unemployment and break-ups. [Cf. Zoë Heller, What Was She Thinking? - Notes on a Scandal]

There are many different kinds of neuroticism. Some have more, some have less.

There may be more neurotics around than you know about. Study the statistics.

Treat life as a win-win chance to get well. [Josh Stern, And That's Why I'm Single: What Good Is Having A Lucky Horseshoe Up Your Butt When The Horse Is Still Attached? ]

Under the iceberg of glitz and glamor lie neurotic, depraved individuals with bizarre habits and hobbies, people who think they're above the law. [Benson Bruno, A Story That Talks about Talking Is Like Chatter to Chattering Teeth . . .]

We can postulate that there must be diseases founded on a conflict between ego and super-ego. Analysis gives us the right to infer that . . . [Sigmund Freud, General Psychological Theory]

We refuse to believe what we do not like. [Christmas Humphreys, The Buddhist Way Of Life [descriptive] What defines neuroticism is a good question.

What will drive you greatly neurotic should be dropped.

Why greatly neurotic people are so dangerous: You think they're nice until they seek to strangle a friend. [Cf. Michael Buckley, The Fairy-Tale Detectives]

Wrong ambition may lead to many ills of the human souls, also when it is thwarted. [Cf. Agatha Christie, Appointment with Death]

You can take a realistic attitude toward life and death and live well.


Neurotics quotations, neuroticism citations, Karen Horney, Literature  

Horney, Karen. Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Toward Self-Realization. New York: Norton, 1950.

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