Have you ever used a word for years and realized you no longer know what it means? I found myself looking up neuroticism and neurosis this evening, trying to describe my ever anxious feeling of incompleteness in the search for meaning. I wasn’t being neurotic about the word itself necessarily, I just wanted to check in to see if it was safe to use. I found this lovely tidbit from Jung:
[Contemporary man] is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by “powers” that are beyond his control. His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food – and, above all, a large array of neuroses. (Jung, 1964:82).
Now I’m not defining myself in such objective terms, after all why would I put myself to the match-stick like this? No, what I do understand from this and other references are the subtle ways that neurosis exists such as depression and anxiety, fear, compulsive and impulsive behavior, all characteristics that oppose living a rich, complex and full life apparently.
So my question becomes, is being Meta cognoscent the same as being neurotic? Is the mere fact that you are delving into thought and meaning to address the unknown qualities of life, developing personal models of understanding as you go, a form of neurosis? Is it the opposite of accepting nothingness as the answer, or perhaps just living in the moment? Perhaps that’s it: The more we strive to understand, the more neurotic we become.
But what does that say for our belief systems. Are we void of the opportunity for abstract thought because neuroticism is a negative condition of the process? After all, concepts such as justice and equality – aspects of a civil existence – are not sitting around ready to be picked up from the coffee table when we are “in the moment.” They need to be massaged and investigated, compared and stripped of their predicaments, rooted and rediscovered and most of all expressed!
One of the inquiries I have going at the moment is the impact of Islam on Canadian society and the xenophobia that exists. I’m interested in the language and culture that is used for example to re-enforce oppression of immigrants and where this language originates from (I’m using it now as I lump people together.) It is an important issue and should be understood in order to be able to see in the daylight. I think it’s at least an important enough issue to warrant my attention as a citizen.
Stability, a contradiction to neurosis is achieved when you let go. Being able to let go defies the challenge to seek truth. Stability therefore is the new drop out point. It says you can, but you won’t. It says you have the power but are not empowered. It says yes but no thanks and it breeds ignorance. We should perhaps all be obsessed. At least that’s how I’m modeling it today. Let me think about it more, I’m feeling a little neurotic.