On being neurotic

Do you think you’re neurotic? According to my nonexistent survey, the majority of you say yes. Honestly, I don’t doubt you. Most people seem to have their own personal neurosis, and if you’re like me, you’re a bit proud of how messed up you are. However, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page about this, so let’s really define what a neurosis is.

According to the book, The Neurotic:

 “Neurosis includes those conditions that are characterized primarily by excessive anxiety, regression, conversion, compulsion, or any mixture of these. The psychoneurotic is a person who, as a result of conflict, is incapable of making adequate adjustment in usual fashion, and who has therefore evolved compensatory mechanisms with which to effect adaptation and achieve some release of tension.”

Now, before we deconstruct that clinical language, I need to point out an important fact. In the United States, the highest authority on mental disorders is the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Guess what? No, I don’t keep a scantily clad picture of Derek Jeter above my bed. Good try though, you weirdo. What I was going to say is, the APA hasn’t included neurosis in their diagnostic language since 1980. Their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is what’s used by everyone from therapists, to insurance companies to decide if you’re fucked up. If that doesn’t include neurosis as a disorder, is it a real thing? Yes, but it’s something that doesn’t hinder your life to the point where you need professional intervention. Sure, some of you could use a therapist, but we all knew that already.

Let’s go back to the definition now. Basically, what it’s saying is, people with neurosis, when faced with a certain type of stress, will respond in a specific way slightly outside the accepted norm. Let’s work with an example. I’m a chronic procrastinator. I procrastinate because the stress of looming work forces me to avoid that work until the last possible moment. I can’t handle the load until the pressure is so great it can’t be avoided. It’s a system that made me an honor student, but it’s certainly not a healthy way to cope with a task.

You can think of some you have now. Do you bite your nails before a job interview? Do you make weird video game analogies when you’re on a date? Do you pace around your house when you’re waiting for a pizza delivery guy to ring the bell? These are all different types of neurosis. They become part of you to such a degree, you usually stop noticing them in yourself. It’s easier to see them in others, but try not to judge too hard, because you’re no prize.

Do you feel better now, knowing that you’re not officially messed up, or did you want an actual disorder for the street-cred? Too bad. You’re messed up to a normal degree, and you have tons of other people, including me, to share the experience with.

Would you like to know more?

Sure, OK. Here are some of the resources used for this article:

The Neurotic


Mind disorders

With this, and any article in the future, I welcome criticism, argument, revision ideas and questions.

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