Truth, Trust, Trauma, and Trump
April 4, 2016
Neurotic Life: Part II
April 14, 2016

Neurotic Life: Part I

If doing something is good, overdoing it must be wonderful. If gaining control is a good thing, gaining complete control must guarantee eternity. This is how we, neurotics, think.

When I was finishing my PhD in psychology I was a full time student. I was also working full time outside the university (I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that), raising a baby, and writing a dissertation on a tight schedule. My wife Ora and I would not get much sleep because Matan, our son, really wanted to play in the middle of the night, and we really didn’t know how to say no, which, 29 years later, we still don’t. This was in Winnipeg, Canada. In winter, the average temperature was -54 and in summer it was 108 mosquitos per square feet.  

To make sure I completed my dissertation on time, I followed obsessively a tight schedule. I used to get up at 5 am, go down to the basement and start typing. The heating didn’t work so I wore gloves to type. Until 7 am I wrote nonstop to make sure I achieved my word goal for the day. My obsessive compulsive tendencies were only in incipient form then. Over the years, I went on to obsess not just about writing, but also about eating, exercising, going to the bathroom, taking out life insurance, and buying brown clothes, underwear, watches, shoes, and bags.

If having a goal is good for well-being, I imagined that having multiple goals would be even better. So, I outlined a life plan with multiple goals. First, stay out of jail. Second, avoid frost bites. Third, avoid constipation. Fourth, avoid mosquitoes. Fifth, get the hell out of Winnipeg.

To achieve my fifth goal, and get an academic position, I needed to publish some academic papers. I focused so intently on publishing that one of my friends said I suffered from Surplus Attention Disorder. I got an academic position and off we went to Waterloo, Ontario, which compared to Winnipeg felt like the tropics. It took us eight years to realize that we still lived in Canada, and that we were still freezing our butts, so we moved as far away from Canada as possible.

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