Neurosis

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"If the evolution of civilization," he writes, "has such a far-reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization — or epics of it — possibly even the whole of humanity — have become 'neurotic' under the pressure of the civilizing trends? ~ Sigmund Freud as quoted by Erich Fromm

Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving chronic distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations. The term is no longer used by the professional psychiatric community in the United States, having been eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980 with the publication of DSM III.

Quotes[edit]

Structural equation modeling was used to show that pilots were more extraverted and less neurotic than the ground personnel, and more extraverted than the controls. Paternal overprotection had an indirect association with becoming a pilot through the mediation of the personality traits of extraversion and neuroticism. ~ Mei-Chung Chang, Ting-Hsuan Lee & For-Wey Lung
Results indicated that personality traits prospectively predicted the decision to enter the military. People lower in agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience during high school were more likely to enter the military after graduation. ~ Joshua J. Jackson, Felix Thoemmes, Kathrin Jonkmann, Oliver Lüdtke and Ulrich Trautwein
Neuroticism predicted future mental disorders and low self‐esteem beyond more objective indicators of adjustment. The results support the use of neuroticism as a predictor of future mental disorders, even over periods of time when personality is subject to change. ~ Jan‐Erik Lönnqvist, Markku Verkasalo, Seppo Mäkinen, Markus Henriksson
  • Structural equation modeling was used to show that pilots were more extraverted and less neurotic than the ground personnel, and more extraverted than the controls. Paternal overprotection had an indirect association with becoming a pilot through the mediation of the personality traits of extraversion and neuroticism. Mental health was not associated with becoming a pilot. The optimal cut-off point of 4/5 on a scale of extraversion resulted in a high sensitivity (96%) for differentiating between fighter pilots and controls. Independent of psychosocial stressors (mental health), extraversion is associated with the biological mechanisms of an individual, and plays a unique role in the process of becoming a pilot. Therefore, an extraversion index can be used for screening potential military pilots prior to flight training, as a means of reducing costs and managing human resources.
  • We have long observed that every neurosis has the result, and therefore probably the purpose, of forcing the patient out of real life, of alienating him from actuality.
  • The true believer is in a high degree protected against the danger of certain neurotic afflictions, by accepting the universal neurosis he is spared the task of forming a personal neurosis.
  • In so doing, the idea forces itself upon him that religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis, and he is optimistic enough to suppose that mankind will surmount this neurotic phase, just as so many children grow out of their similar neurosis.
  • A certain degree of neurosis is of inestimable value as a drive, especially to a psychologist.
    • Sigmund Freud as quoted in Fragments of an Analysis with Freud, ch.3 '22 January 1935' (1954) by Joseph Wortis; as quoted in Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations by Robert Andrews, Penguin Books, 2001.
  • That human nature and society can have conflicting demands, and hence that a whole society can be sick, is an assumption which was made very explicitly by Freud, most extensively in his Civilization and Its Discontent. ...he arrives at the concept of "social neurosis." "If the evolution of civilization," he writes, "has such a far-reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization — or epics of it — possibly even the whole of humanity — have become 'neurotic' under the pressure of the civilizing trends?"
  • Results indicated that personality traits prospectively predicted the decision to enter the military. People lower in agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience during high school were more likely to enter the military after graduation. In addition, military training was associated with changes in personality. Compared with a control group, military recruits had lower levels of agreeableness after training. These levels persisted 5 years after training, even after participants entered college or the labor market.
  • The authors assessed whether neuroticism in emerging adulthood predicts mental disorders and self‐esteem in early adulthood after controlling for possible confounding variables. A sample of 69 male military conscripts was initially assessed at age 20 and again as civilians at age 35. The initial assessment included a psychiatric interview, objective indicators of conscript competence, an intellectual performance test, and neuroticism questionnaires. The follow‐up assessment included a Structured Clinical Interview for DSM‐IV (SCID; First, Spitzer, Gibbon, & Williams, 1996) and the Rosenberg Self‐Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). Neuroticism predicted future mental disorders and low self‐esteem beyond more objective indicators of adjustment. The results support the use of neuroticism as a predictor of future mental disorders, even over periods of time when personality is subject to change.
  • The stable middle-class values so prerequisite to sublimation have been virtually destroyed in our time, at least as nourishing values free of confusion or doubt. In such a crisis of accelerated historical tempo and deteriorated values, neurosis tends to be replaced by psychopathy, and the success of psychoanalysis (which even ten years ago gave promise of becoming a direct major force) diminishes because of its inbuilt and characteristic incapacity to handle patients more complex, more experienced, or more adventurous than the analyst himself. In practice, psychoanalysis has by now become all too often no more than a psychic blood-letting. The patient is not so much changed as aged, and the infantile fantasies which he is encouraged to express are condemned to exhaust themselves against the analyst’s non-responsive reactions. The result for all too many patients is a diminution, a “tranquilizing” of their most interesting qualities and vices. The patient is indeed not so much altered as worn out—less bad, less good, less bright, less willful, less destructive, less creative. He is thus able to conform to that contradictory and unbearable society which first created his neurosis. He can conform to what he loathes because he no longer has the passion to feel loathing so intensely.
  • Freud is all nonsense; the secret of neurosis is to be found in the family battle of wills to see who can refuse the longest to help with the dishes.
  • Neuroticism is a personality trait that lends itself to worry, anxiety and isolation. Highly neurotic people are more susceptible to mental illness than happy-go-lucky types; they're also worse at high-risk professions like military aviation or bomb disposal, which require coolness under pressure. On the other hand, neuroticism seems linked to creative pursuits. Studies have found, for example, that artists and other creative people score higher on tests of neuroticism than people who aren't in creative fields. 
  • According to Perkins and his colleagues' hypothesis, the brains of neurotic people might have a particularly persistent "default mode network," which is the circuit in the brain that becomes activated when people are doing nothing in particular. The medial prefrontal cortex is part of that system. If neurotic people have trouble turning off this thought-generating network, it might make them more prone to overthinking, dwelling and otherwise mulling over problems — real and imagined.
    This can be a problem because neurotic people also have oversensitive amygdalae. The tendency to become panicked over imagined problems can make neurotic people quite miserable, Perkins said.
    On the other hand, neuroticism could have benefits, he said. "If you dwell on problems for a long time, when those problems are not in front of you … it seems quite obvious that you'll be more likely to come across a solution than one of those happy-go-lucky people who live their life in the moment," Perkins noted.
  • Neuroticism is a dimension of personality that captures trait individual differences in the tendency to experience negative thoughts and feelings. Established theories explain neuroticism in terms of threat sensitivity, but have limited heuristic value since they cannot account for features of neuroticism that are unrelated to threat, such as creativity and negative psychological states experienced in benign, threat-free environments. We address this issue by proposing that neuroticism stems from trait individual differences in activity in brain circuits that govern the nature of self-generated thought (SGT). We argue our theory explains not only the association of neuroticism with threat sensitivity but also the prominence within the neurotic mind of representations of information that are unrelated to the way the world is right now, such as creativity and nonsituational ‘angst’.

See also[edit]

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