Feeling a Bit Neurotic

Ladies and gentlemen, may I say that today I am proud to be a member of the esteemed citizenry of the greater Rochester, New York area? Well I just did, so there!

Anyway, the point of my beaming pride is a new study out of the University of Rochester (school motto: “This is Rochester, New York NOT Rochester, Minnesota!”) claiming that neuroticism may have an upside. I was made aware of the wonderful news thanks to an article published by the Health on Today website.

According to the Einstein-esque researchers at the U of R, self-described neurotics apparently have achieved a higher level of consciousness than the rest of us. I don’t know about you, but I think the use of “self-described” neurotics as test subjects is my first clue that this entire study might possibly be suspect. After all, can someone who classifies himself as neurotic, despite the fact that any neurosis may cloud his rational thinking abilities, really be trusted when he tells us he’s achieved a higher level of consciousness? That’s like s schizophrenic claiming to have developed dynamic interpersonal skills!

Furthermore, if self-described neurotics have a higher level of consciousness the opposite must also be true. Those who claim to be more aware could possibly be neurotic. If that’s the case then people like Al Gore and Michael Moore may very well be the Dali Lamas of neurosis, given their penchant for global warming, nightmares on Wall Street, and other ideas that make their lucidity suspect. By the way, “suspect lucidity” would make a phat name for grunge band!

The researchers went on to say that even though people classified as neurotic also tend to be more likely to be substance abusers, have higher risks of various types of inflammation (apparently neurosis leads to unexplained swelling) , and have a higher mortality rate, the higher consciousness they achieve seems to offset the negative consequences of being neurotic. In other words, there is apparently a healthy upside to neurosis that can offset the negative effects of some pretty crazy activities. And just for the record, I swear I’m not making up the inflammation thing. Apparently, neurotic people experience swelling more often than the rest of us.

Who knew?

The good news in all of this seems to be the idea that becoming neurotic is a real advantage if you’re a substance abuser with swollen ankles and a death wish. Having a neurosis-driven higher consciousness will put you on a higher plane; a plane with seats being occupied by the likes of Shirley McClain, Scientologists everywhere, and a certain blue elephant named Horton who heard voices emanating from a plant. Come to think of it, I wonder if old Dr. Seuss was a bit neurotic himself!

“I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham…”

The only question remaining is how one intentionally becomes neurotic; assuming, of course, that achieving neurotic nirvana is a career or personal goal. Then again, would the desire to become neurotic constitute, in and of itself, a certain level of self-described neurosis? Would I be crazy to want to be crazy? So many questions…so many questions. Where are the U of R researches when you need them?

Moving on…

According that most excellent web portal of secret knowledge and critical thinking – a.k.a. Wikipedia – neurosis is defined as, “a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms.” In plain English it means being just crazy enough to stick out on the street, but not so crazy as to love PSY and Gangnam style. It means you may drool from time to time, in public, but you won’t admit you can’t stop singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” in the deep, dark recesses of your fertile sub-conscious.

Regardless of the Wikinition – I made that up by combining Wikipedia and definition; clever, huh? – we all recognize neurosis when we see it. We identify neurotic behavior in Aunt Sylvia who, at every family function, finds it necessary to tell the gathered crowd about her bunions, varicose veins, and strange attraction to Conan O’Brien’s hair. It manifests itself in that guy down at work who’s obsessed with making sure everyone knows how much he loves his freakin’ football team despite the fact that they couldn’t beat a rug with a broom and haven’t been to the playoff’s since the Clinton Administration!

Neurosis is even alive and well among humor columnists who laugh at their own jokes while making Chicken with Peanut Tomatilla sauce which, I might add, was quite tasty. There’s nothing like the combination of chunky peanut butter and salsa verde unless, of course, your neurosis leads you to believe salsa verde is made by over-worked and under-paid Mexicans with a greenish complexion due to their own neurosis about peanut butter.

So where was I going with this? I have no idea whatsoever. But suddenly I’m feeling very aware…almost like I’ve reached a higher state of consciousness.

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