Are you Schizoid or Autistic?
[This essay is close to a brief auto-biography, describing my personal life-long obsession about mental illness. In particular, it also outline the difference between schizoid and autism.]
In my life, i've always have brushed with what seems to be psychological problems. (i was born in 1968)
In my teens, i have a pathological suspicion that i have certain illness. In particular, Intestinal worm. I think when i was 5 or so, i actually do have one such instance. However, looking back, there's no reason to suspect that i have such worn in my teen life. In my mid twenties, i discovered, that there is actually a term for this, called Hypochondria. It is a excessive preoccupation about having a serious illness. I remember, that i was so happy to have discovered this word, thinking, that there is actually a word describing my condition, the world understood me. (such feelings of realization, is rather common, as i later learned.)
In my 20s or early 30s, somehow the worry of intestinal worm or other illness faded away, but then i was somewhat preoccupied with the danger of contracting AIDS. My sexual activity is rather non-existent, and i don't do drugs, yet i worry about this very much. Thinking back now, yeah it's rather silly.
The above is a prologue. What i really want to tell in this story, is my search for a psychological illness that i presumably have. Much of my life since my 20s, i worry about certain mental illness, and devoted significant time in my life studying the subject, trying to pinpoint which one i actually have.
Mental illness is funny. Statistically, just about every one is mentally ill at some point of their life. Also, unless you have sensory delusions as in schizophrenia, it's often a matter of degree, and the diagnosis and classification is more like a art than science. For many type of what's called personality disorders, it's all relative. As some experts in the field argue, that they are just rare personalities, than being disorders.
In my early 20s (1990s), i thought i am manic depressive, now called bipolar disorder. Though, i do function rather normally in society, having normal jobs, work with other people rather well. Nobody has ever suggested that i have mental problems. I'm mentally stable, rather, more cold and aloof, emotionless. Though, comment of being “creepy” is sometimes heard.
In general, i'm much of a loner type of person. Introvert, is the word, but not always so. When i feel like it, i could address a crowd in a charismatic way. (am rather handsome; a fact i didn't realize till reaching 40, rather no longer attractive) But in general, i keep to myself, and in fact, for many years of periods of my life, i live in a hermit style, without going to any public event, friend's house, office, etc for years. (but do for example visit food store to buy food just about every week, or head to movie theaters, but usually rarely like once a year.)
Never had many friends, nor do i appreciate friends that much. The very concept of friendship, seems illogical to me, in particular, it suggest all sort of philosophical issues of unfairness, relationship of self-interests, nepotism, cronyism. Much of my relationship with others are pretty much described by a word i learned in 1998, when my boss Alex of brainpower.com (defunct), casually mentioned it among co-workers: platonic (as in platonic love.).
In 1992 to 1994, i was attending Foothill 2-year community college, (around age 25), i thought of mending my “friendship problem”, and joined the swimming team. That means, more interaction with others, in a very physical activity and with bare skins, too. LOL. So, i've been on the college swimming team for a couple of years. Swimming around young, attractive, 18 to 22 years old girls and guys all day. (i went to college late. Am about 5 years older than them) Looking back, this did not made me closer to having more friends at all, nor made me easier around other people. Looking back, it's more like a quest to the friendship question as a experiment. I was perpetually looking for a answer. It is more about lacking confidence of myself, always thinking that i have a problem, being the problem.
During these college years, i have taken basic philosophy and psychology courses. I remember, i was explicitly searching, for the ultimate answer, knowledge, wisdom, about the issues of relationship. I clearly remember, while running into my Critical Thinking instructor on campus, i mentioned something to the effect about finding the optimal way about acquiring and deal with friends. LOL. That is the characteristic of my life. As i now think, such a academic altitude towards friendship, isn't natural or statistically normal, and with such a attitude to begin with, i'll never find the normal or natural friendship that i sought.
Also, in the first half of 1990s, i've read books such as:
- The Conquest of Happiness , by Bertrand Russell. Buy at amazon
- How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937), by Dale Carnegie. Buy at amazon
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Dale Carnegie. Buy at amazon
Bertrand Russell is one of the most influential philosopher and locigian in the 20th century, and is my favorite author. The Dale Carnegie's book is widely popular, especially in the sales and marketing business community.
During about 1997 to 1998 (aged ~30), i'm in somewhat depressed mood. This is a first period i lived like a hermit. In this period, i studied huge amounts of mathematics and programing. Also, it is this period i studied personality disorders, and discovered, that i'm a schizoid.
- Please Understand Me Character Temperament , by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates. Buy at amazon
- The Language Of The Body , by Alexander Lowen (1910 – 2008)
- The Betrayal Of The Body , by Alexander Lowen. Buy at amazon
The book Betrayal is about schizoid. Here's the cover quote:
bodily pleasure is a vital source
this essay is incomplete, … i meant to eventually talk about the main subject, namely, schizoid and autism.