Being peculiar gives one a peculiar perspective on people.
I want a word that describes my oddity. Perhaps, idea-creative: constantly and fermentatively getting ideas. (That is not a big deal. Most ideas – and I should know – are crap.)
I came into this world with my damn brain optimized for thinking stuff up. That, and and I had the damn stubbornness and passion to float it, so that the crap I think up is not necessarily the crap I am supposed to think up. I dance to my own heartbeat. A bit wildly, some say. (I am not ONLY speaking metaphorically) I find it very hard to understand (while respecting the different ways of others) why people want to do stuff like square dancing, yoga classes, situations where somebody tells one, now-move-this-way now-move-that-way.
As a child, I was confused by peoples’ reactions to me. Then, in tenth grade, a perceptive teacher said to me, “You are different; you are creative; that will bother a lot of people.” This too: Me a kid in highschool, in Dayton, Ohio, in current events class, in those cold war years that were pickled in the dread of nuclear holocaust. I said, if the Russian missiles were heading for us, I hoped that the person or people in charge on our side – even if they have to pretend in advance that they WILL fire the missiles – that if it were to come down to it, they would not actually fire the missiles and kill all those people. NO, said absolutely everybody without exception – If they hit us we should hit them. But, I said, the children, all the people who had nothing to do with the attack, the nuclear winter… No, they insisted unified-front-wise, if they nuke us, we should nuke them. The incident focused my awareness of difference. I do understand that neurotypical people are not necessarily buttheads, are profoundly, humanly, complex and varied. From my odd perspective, I have observed that normal people often think collectively.1 Surely some of those defined not-normal do too, or perhaps they would if there was a collective that would have them.
It is not just normal people and me, so I often wonder about other ways of being different. Doing this, I have wondered whether to some extent, schizophrenia, for instance, might be problematic because of human isolation. People who are only being heard as “this-is-your-problem” or as “you-are-nuts” will likely be isolated. I wonder, are people-who-hear-voices conferring together nowadays, working out how to deal with voices intelligently? (Selectivity, perhaps, and, pretend to be talking on a cellphone…what?) Also,I have been told that autism is associated with an aversion to eye contact. Again, the behavior of neurotypical folks may be part of the problem.
I wonder whether, at least in part, an aversion to eye contact may result at least in part from autistic people being a target for nasty stares, for yer-not-one-of-us stares and/or I-am-your-boss-look-me-in-the-eye-I-will-tell-you-who-to-be stares. Seen from a peculiar perspective: Those who attempt to understand and define the many various types of peculiar people are themselves in a complex position. It can’t be easy to diagnose disorders, given that human nature is not orderly. Some of this group would struggle to help people who genuinely need help. Some would be focused on doing a good job, however they define that. Some may be interested in the wild complexity of human being. Some are in the difficult position of dealing with those individuals who do nuts2 things that are bad for others. Some will have been attracted to a position of authority, for various reasons. Because power-over-others exists in these fields, bullying, and also unfortunate mistakes in help-giving will be problematic. This, of course is my speculation, valid3 in itself but absolutely no substitute for the voices of the people themselves who I am speculating about. Compare, an anthropologist, studying and attempting to describe a people they are not part of. Those people damn well better get a chance to speak for themselves. Compare also, a psychologist defining somebody. It is important that the voices of the people who are being defined by anthropologists, me or mental health professionals should themselves be heard.
People, normal people, abnormal people… we too often harm each other. I tend to favor the negotiated solution (is that normal?) but it is hard to be optimistic. Is it possible that, within a context of not-so-easy-to get-away-with-it, people will work out negotiated solutions around a social contract of not hurting people? Is everybody peculiar? Do those who face the world with a rabid normality hide a secret strangeness? How strange and complex are people? To what extent is normality a pretext, a way of establishing oneself as one-of-us4?
And – hey – folks who might be sort of maybe something like me – what do YOU think?
- Conventional things that are bad for others are of course regarded differently. Freedom is an important human value, and restricting a person’s freedom may be one of those not-defined-as-nuts ways of hurting people.
- As humans, we struggle to understand people and express our understanding.