Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

On Idiosyncrasies

Originally posted on November 5, 2012

An idiosyncrasy is a personal and seemingly odd notion, ritual, habit, obsession, etc. How do bright people come up with such a startling variety of notions? Provisional answer: All our powers of reason cannot penetrate the screen of bias, the thick layers of rationalization generated by our “amplifying unconscious.” The powers of rationalized mythmaking are too strong. More about mythmaking in another blog posted today about “the Great Pumpkin.”

We can, it may be hoped, in time prevail upon this strong force. However, I believe, the aforesaid amplifying unconscious is malleable, not by will, but by persistent habits of thought and imagery. However, though, this subtle influencing process takes time. It sinks in gradually, over months or years. This is really the challenge of psychotherapy, too, and spiritual discipline.

I fear that this ethos goes against a common expectation in America and perhaps in Western cultures, too. This expectation is most often un-conscious: It seems as if quick-and-easy techniques should be and can be invented to circumvent painstaking effort. Indeed, on occasion, inventions that achieve this goal happen—enough to reinforce the expectation. So it seems plausible to expect it to happen in every instance. Perhaps also we may invent techniques that enable our conscious will to assert dominance over deep inner prejudices, biases, needs, inclinations, tendencies, beliefs, and the like.  I suspect, though, that there are fair number of dynamics that will not be vulnerable to such manipulations.

Still, in encountering what at first seem to be odd idiosyncrasies in others, we may be curious and somewhat expectant: Many of these notions are harmless and may turn out to be productive in the long run. I confess that I have gravitated towards some notions that I though odd when I was growing up. Well, isn’t life funny that way?

One Response to “On Idiosyncrasies”

  • Anne-Marie says:

    … and….? (“I have gravitated towards some notions that I thought odd when I was growing up.”)

    Curious to hear what some may be!

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