Neurotic

Summer and the Moon of Justice

Sunday gratefuls: A mowed and less cluttered backyard. Jon and the grandkids coming tonight. Pick-up groceries. Safeway. Even though. Kate’s feeding tube. Her appointment with an ostomy nurse. House cleaning. The dishwasher. The final days of our freezer. This pulse of energy I have for domestic work. May it last. Cool mountain mornings. Trump and his racist ways.

Not all who wander are lost. This Tolkien quote could be my family crest. Mary and Mark living the expat life. Kate and I finally come to rest, like Noah, on a mountain top in the Rockies. And that’s the external reality.

A few days back I surfaced the wandering going on in my inner life. Last night, as my plugged up nose kept me awake, an old shard of psychiatric shrapnel worked its way up again. Philosophical neurosis. Diagnosed with this in 1969. After, I think, the MMPI and one or two visits with a doc. Neurosis got ejected from the DSM in 1980, but not before it struck me with the force of a hidden mindmine.

Nowhere in searches on Google or in any book on psychology have I found the term. The psychiatrist who diagnosed me is lost to memory, as well as any explanatory information from him. Those two words, philosophical neurosis, have many synaptic threads attached to them and they tug out of the basement every once in a while.

Philosophical neurosis. It had the unusual impact of pathologizing a key aspect of my personality. I take nothing for granted. Discovering there was an entire, storied academic tradition of people who did the same transformed me over the course of a semester. Even though I came to love anthropology as much as philosophy, philosophy shaped me, made me a critic and theorist at heart.

When I was a young boy, my bedroom adjoined my parents. My father and I would “talk about tractors” for a while before going to sleep. As I recall, this meant talking about a diverse range of topics. Early on though it exposed me to critique. Even at age 7 or 8, I would pursue the logic of a topic to its fullest extent. Dad never had dad authority. He could tell me something, but I would as often say, I wonder about that, as I would nod my head.

He called me tech. As in, technical. I always argued about the mechanics, the structure of an observation. Wish I could give you an example from that time, but my main memories around being “tech” was Dad’s growing frustration with me. He had been raised by his German physician grandfather, Jonas Spitler. My impression is that Jonas had dad authority. Always.

It came to me from the womb. I had, and have, an instantaneous realization of a contradiction or a flaw in an argument. It was no surprise to me when I took the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory and discovered my letters: INTP, an introverted intuitive thinking perceiving type.

“Logicians are known for their brilliant theories and unrelenting logic – in fact, they are considered the most logically precise of all the personality types.” on the INTP personality, 16personalities. Poor dad. I came with this mental equipment, discovered philosophy and politics. Our relationship was over right about then. He had strong, definite opinions. With which, unfortunately for us, I often disagreed.

Then, that psychiatrist nailed me with what I now believe was a made-up diagnosis. Maybe he was an incarnation of my father’s persona. I do remember he told me I had to find values that I could embrace or my life would be, well, shit.

Embracing or conforming to a belief system defines blasphemy and anathema for me. If it makes sense to me, sure. I can go there. But if it doesn’t, now or later, then I’m on another path, another ancientrail.

This explains why I’ve always felt like an outsider in any job I’ve ever had. Even the ministry. In the end, it has to make sense, the assumptions, the framework of the job. And the world does not divide logically. So, Charlie out. Sorry.

Philosophical neurosis. As much as I hate to admit it. Fair enough. I have to approach the world as I am and that does seem, at least at 73, to be who I am, one who can’t turn off the analytical part of his mind. Doesn’t I mean I’m not loving, caring. I am. But don’t expect me to buy the shiny new religious or political system you’ve discovered. I probably won’t.

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