If you are a person with normal intelligence you have observed the human condition and know what it is although you may not like it.
By the time a typical human child reaches adolescence (age 13) he or she has lived long enough to have observed certain facts about human beings. He has observed that he does get sick and need medications to kill the germs that cause his sickness; he has observed that he needs food to nourish his body and without food he would die; he has observed that he has to live in a shelter otherwise his body would be destroyed by the vagaries of inclement weather; he has observed that the next person he sees around him has the capacity to harm and kill him; your next door neighbor, if he has the will to do so, can point a gun at your head, pull the trigger and a bullet flies into your head and you die; you can do the same to him.
A rational human being knows that, sooner or later, he would die and the body that he had enslaved his life to working hard to obtain food and material things for will die and be eaten by worms, or rot and smell worse than feces.
All said an adolescent knows that his life is vulnerable and precarious. He knows the facts of the human condition (unless he is mentally retarded hence cannot observe his world objectively).
Because of the realities of his being, the human being feels weak, inferior and powerless; in a word, vulnerable. He does not like his sense of vulnerability; he wishes that things were more propitious but wishes do not change reality so he has to deal with reality as it is. Grind your teeth and do what you got to do to survive; such is our life; Cest la vie.
THE NORMAL PERSON
The normal person has observed reality as it is and knows that his life is vulnerable; he knows that in time he would die (give or take, he lives to be a hundred years but die he must).
The normal person reconciles his self to the human condition and does not complain about it, for he knows that crying over spilled milk does not scoop it back into his cup.
Instead of complaining about his rotten reality, the normal person undertakes to do whatever he can to make the time allotted to him to live in body as peaceful and joyful as is possible. He works to make a living.
In our age it is preferable that he studies science and technology and use those to earn a living for his self and his family.
Life is pain and then you die; what a bummer. But that is reality so head's up, chin out and go do what you have to do to survive, live for a hundred years and exit the stage of life.
The Roman stoic writer, Horace, said: Carpe Diem, seize the day. Shakespeare put it most eloquently when he had Macbeth, when Macbeth realized that all his vaulting ambition leads to nothing, that, as the writer of ecclesiastics said, life is vanity on vanity, said:
"life is like a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing; we are like actors on a stage; we play our parts and then disappear from the stage and are heard from no more" (is this pessimistic or optimistic?)
Perhaps, there is life after death; perhaps there is not. The normal person generally explores religion and often finds some kind of solace in a religion that promises him life after his physical death (or if he is philosophically orientated, like Boethius he finds solace in philosophy); but in the meantime he does not deny that he will die, for to deny death is to be unrealistic.
More importantly, because the normal person recognizes that every person in his world has the capacity to harm or kill him he respects people; he does not go about putting folks down, insulting them for he knows that pride is necessary for human beings to do what they have to do to adapt to their world and survive; all human beings are proud; so, if you insult people you injure their pride; people do feel narcissistic rage when you attack their vanity and have been known to kill those who put them down.
And if you are tempted to see you as invincible remember that as we talk South Africans, in a xenophobic frenzy, are butchering Nigerians (mainly Igbos), Zimbabweans and other Africans.
The salient point is that every person can be killed by whoever has the desire to do so; As Thomas Mann pointed out in his seminal novel, Venice, God will not stop a criminal who wants to kill you or rob you from doing so! You are not invincible; you are a vulnerable human being; admit that fact and live peacefully; do not pretend to be god for god you are not.
If you are an Igbo, think about these facts the next time that your childish pride asks you to insult folks; every time you insult people you signed your death warrant; people you insult may forgive you but if they choose not to they can take you down!
THE NEUROTIC PERSON
The neurotic person is a normal person who for some reasons (not fully understood, yet) feels the human condition more acutely. Whereas the normal person feels weak from the exigencies of life the neurotic to be child feels inordinately weak. He feels totally weak and inferior.
Regardless of the etiology of the sense of inferiority, the sense of inferiority does not sit well with any human being. Thus, the neurotic child struggles to deny his sense of inadequacy and inferiority. By age twelve the neurotic child has compensated with a sense of superiority.
He posits a self-concept that says: I am a superior person; I am better than other people; I can handle anything that the world can throw at me.
Having invented an ideal self-concept with concomitant ideal self-image, the neurotic child pursues it. He has an all or nothing approach to life. He must succeed at all costs. At play he wants to be the best sports person, at school he wants to be the best student; on the job he wants to be the best worker. By and large, the neurotic tends to succeed and as the world sees it he is called a successful person. But he pays an enormous price: he is filled with anxiety and lack of peace and joy; he is afraid of failing for he thinks that if he fails he is nobody (that people will see him as nobody).
Neurosis is a psychoanalytic term; contemporary psychiatry has given it another name: personality disorders. According to American Psychiatry there are ten personality disorders, such as paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, anti-social and avoidant, dependent, obsessive compulsive and passive aggressive. I will not explain them here, I have done so elsewhere.
The person with a personality disorder, that is, a neurotic is generally a normal person; he is a normal person who can test reality and know what it is but he is not happy with reality.
He wants to change reality and make it become what he wants it to be (an Igbo neurotic, deluded type, Nebu, tries very hard in his infantile writing to persuade his readers that I am not educated; he is trying to change the reality of who I am; the dullard who barely completed secondary school wants to persuade his fellow rustics that a man who attended one of the world's top twenty universities and is a professor is not educated!).
The normal person accepts reality as it is. For example, the normal person accepts that he is inadequate, weak and vulnerable and will die and does not fight that reality; the neurotic/personality disordered person wants to deny reality; he denies that he is weak and inferior feeling and, instead, at the conscious level, would like to believe that he is strong, powerful and deathless; but he is merely playing with reality; deep down he is like the normal person, so we say that he is still within the normal continuum.
Consider the American President, Donald Trump. If you have taken a few classes in psychology you would not find it terribly difficult to figure out that he is a neurotic; he has narcissistic personality disorder. That means that deep down he feels like shit; he feels inferior and weak but would like to deny it; he wants to seem superior and worked very hard to seem to succeed; as the world considers these things he appears a success (Forbes magazine estimates that he has $3.5 billion dollars although he claims to have $10 billion dollars, a lie, and because it is a lie he does not want to release his tax return; if his tax returns are released people would then see him not as the wealthy man he wants to be seen as and that would make him feel belittled; he must maintain the mask of being wealthy and smart).
Trump feels like nothing (which is true, for existentially we all are nothing, but I am not dealing with existential psychology here), but denies it. Instead, he posits a mask, the image that he is rich and smart; he wants you to always tell him how smart and rich he is. He is perpetually seeking your admiration and attention; he tells lies that make him seem a very successful person.
Trump wants to be liked by people. But while he is seeking your attention and admiration he would not hesitate for a minute in using you. That is correct; he is a user of people; he uses people to get whatever he wants out of life and when they are no longer useful to him he discards them like rag dolls.
He likes beautiful women; to him they are beautiful trophies for him to collect and brag about how beautiful his women are; they are decoration for his parlor. He brags of grabbing women by their pussies (how do you do that, are some pussies so huge that a man can grab them?); the man does not really love women or men.
He does not really love any one for he does not love his real self; in fact, he hates his real self and admires a false, superior self. A man who does not love his real self cannot love other people; thus, Trump does not love Americans, as Americans will soon find out.
Adolf Hitler pretended to love Germans but only brought them suffering and death (see his books, Mien Kampf and Table Talks, edited by the racist Oxford Don, Trevor Roper).
Trump is about to bring Americans, using his choice word, "tremendous" suffering and death unless wise hands correct the neurotic trajectory he is on.
Trump is a normal-neurotic person, a person with personality disorder. To the world he appears a successful person but to mental health professionals (psychologists and psychiatrists) he is one sick poppy. He is a confused child crying out for our love (see how he is always reminding us that he won the election by a landslide even though Hillary Clinton had 3 million more votes; how he had a large electoral college, he had 306; Obama had 320; he talks about illegal aliens voting even though there is no evidence for that; the man tells lies to make him seem important).
Trump is a tragic hero in the sense that his character foibles drive him to reach the apex of society only to drag him down; other people can see his character weaknesses but like the classic Greek tragic hero he is blinded to them, for he must reach the apogee of society and then fall, for in so doing the gods amuse themselves at the expense of human beings (please read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear and other such tragedies, Sophocles, to learn the fate of tragic heroes).
Trump is a disaster waiting to happen but he cannot help himself for he must say and do whatever he thinks makes him seem important and admirable; the fates promise him a catastrophic fall from grace; from the zenith of power to the gutter is the familiar tale of the tragic hero!
I used Trump to explain neurosis and personality disorder but I am actually talking about you, the reader. Pay attention and perhaps you may stop making a nuisance of you by claiming to be a superior human being.
No human being can ever be superior to other human beings. Let us say that you have a huge IQ, say, 160, Albert Einstein's IQ; you are still not superior to the guy with mental retardation (IQ of fewer than 70).
You and I are not better than any human being. We are all the same. Any moment you feel an urge to seem superior to other people you are neurotic.
Stop right there and remind yourself that no human being can ever be superior to other people regardless of his social position.
The president of the United States of America is perhaps the most powerful man on earth yet he is the same and coequal with a beggar on the street. This is the fact of our existence; do not deny it with your infantile and supercilious sense of superiority.
Most human beings are normal-neurotic but only a few are psychotic (mad persons). Contrary to what you may think, only about one percent of human beings are actually crazy. Psychosis is a very rare phenomenon!
We define psychotics as those with schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder or organic mental disorders (and the partial psychosis called delusion disorder).
In psychosis the person is no longer normal or neurotic; he is no longer able to test reality. The neurotic wants to be superior but knows that he is not superior. Stop and understand what I just said.
The neurotic wants to be superior to other people but knows that he is not, so we say that he is able to test reality and knows that no human being can ever be superior to other people.
Here is a question for you superior bastard; if you are superior to other people how come any one who so wants it can point a gun to your swollen head, pull the trigger and kill you, reduce you to a pile of meat?
The psychotic, at some point, usually between ages 17-27, lost touch with reality and now believes what normal-neurotic people merely wish.
Let me personalize this discourse so as to help you do the same. I wish that I am powerful, superior, wealthy etc. but I know that I am not. If I am psychotic I would actually believe that I am powerful and superior to other people. I would then act "as if" I am actually superior to other people.
At first those around me would laugh at me for they know that I am not superior to them. They will say: Ozodi, get the hell out of here, knock it off, and stop pretending that you are better than us. But if I persist in telling people that I am superior to them they would tune me out and consider me crazy.
No human being, if rational ever accepts other people as superior to him; so, all your silly efforts to tell people that you are special and superior to them is wasted effort (for as long as I can remember Igbos tell Nigerians that they are superior to them but Nigerians being rational persons do not believe them; indeed, they see Igbos as clowns and treat them as such; white folks are perhaps five hundred years ahead of black folks in scientific and technological culture yet no black person accepts that white folks are superior to him; racists waste their time trying to convince black folks of their superiority, for no human being can accept another person as superior to him; yet some Igbo persons persist in trying to present themselves as superior persons!).
Psychosis begins thus: a teenager, say, at age 18, at the university, suddenly begins acting as if he is superior to his peers and they laugh at him (at his delusion of superiority) but when they realize that he is dead serious they tune him out and abandon his company.
Thus, the psychotic teenager is left to live in his fantasy world where he fantasizes that he is superior to other persons.
Soon, he adds hallucination to his delusion of superiority. He now hears voices (they are his voices projected to seeming other persons and re-introjected) telling him that he is a superior person; a voice could tell him that he is God or Napoleon or whatever historic figure is deemed superior in his world.
Psychosis is characterized by the presence of bizarre delusions and hallucinations (in one or more of the five senses).
Stop and see if you have understood what I am trying to tell you. If not let me explain further. Many Igbos are like all of us; they feel the human condition and necessarily feel weak and inferior; we all do so. Like the neurotic, they would like to deny the human condition and fancy themselves powerful but they know that they are not powerful.
A few Igbos proceed to believe that they are superior and powerful. They tell themselves stories of how they are superior people and are responsible for all that is good in Nigeria and Africa. These days, they claim to be Jews and thus started Christianity.
An Owerri deluded medical doctor, in YouTube videos, said that Owerri is Jerusalem, Nnaze is Nazareth and Egbu is Rome. He said that his lineage as a prince goes back to millions of years when his people became the Kings of Owerri; he claimed his linage to the allegorical King David of the Bible (actually Owerri is a recent town; it used to be a slave market; it was made a town by Lugard and his great grandfather was made a warrant chief to enable Lugard, the British control his fellow villagers, folks that Lugard called "the savages of the lower Niger"!).
I listened to the man talk and could not believe what I was hearing; how could a rational person believe the outrageous lies he is spawning, I asked, Owerri is Jerusalem? The man exhibited the classic symptoms of delusion disorder, grandiose type (delusion disorder has many types, including grandiose, jealous, persecutory, erotomanic and somatic).
He reminded me of one of our fellow Owerri boy, Nicholas. Nick was probably the smartest boy in our town. He attended government college, Owerri and thereafter got federal government scholarship and studied electrical engineering in the USA. After obtaining a master's degree in engineering he got a job at Massachusetts. Later on, he began saying that folks are out to kill him. He hatched an elaborate tale of people planning kill him. He was accusing folk's right, left and center of trying to kill him, yet, as far as mathematics and physics is concerned he was top notch. Nick had delusion disorder, persecutory type.
Delusion disorder does not affect the intellect; it affects the emotions; it is systematic belief in what is not true as true (no one was out to kill Nick but he believed that folks were out to kill him; Owerri is not Jerusalem but Philip believes that it is).
The twentieth century's best mathematician, Gödel, had delusion disorder, persecutory type. I hate to pop your balloon but the fact is that many of the people you place on the pedestal and worship as extraordinary persons actually had either personality disorders or delusion disorder and some even had psychosis. I will leave you with the illusion that those you respect are better than other people; we all need some illusions to make our miserable lives palatable.
In this brief essay I am not talking about the causes of mental disorders; but let me just observe that these days psychology has embraced biology, physics and chemistry. Most mental disorders are now seen as caused by biochemical imbalances in the brain. Schizophrenia is attributed to too much dopamine; mania is attributed to too much neuropiniphrine; depression is attributed to too little serotonin; anxiety is attributed to too little GABA. Because imbalances in neurotransmitters are seen in the genesis of mental disorders these days they are mostly treated with psychotropic medications, such as neuroleptics, anti-mania and anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications. I will not get into that discourse here for it is for mental health professionals.
I am not going to make you a mental health professional in a six pages essay. All I want you to do is this: if you have a tendency to fancy yourself better than other people know that you are neurotic (has personality disorder). If you have the resources try to go to a psychotherapist for help.
The typical Client of therapists is a medical doctor, professor, lawyer, engineer (and their family members), in a word, middle class persons (poor people do not go to therapists; they are given medications and those destroy their kidneys and livers and eventually kill them!).
Therapists help you to understand who you are. If you understand your self you become calmer and are able to do your work without neurotic complications.
Do me a favor, will you; stop coming to the public square to call folks put down names, as many Igbos do. Those who do such things are hiding in plain sight their mental disorders.
A trained mental health professional can read a few of your writings and pretty much accurately diagnose you. However, he is told by his profession not to go about giving people diagnoses but he still has diagnoses of folks and keeps them to himself.
Two weeks ago, a bunch of psychologists and psychiatrists disregarded their professions injunction against giving public figures diagnoses and came right out and said that Donald Trump has pathological narcissism; they said that he needs to be checked before he drags this country to an unnecessary war.
Trump wants to be great and knows that to become a great president one must be a war president. Only presidents who went to war, such as Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt etc. are called great presidents, so to gratify his narcissistic wish for greatness Trump may go to war and get millions of people killed. It is, therefore, better that the public know what some of us know about him. I wrote an article in June of 2015 and called Trump a pathological narcissist.
Money cannot buy you wisdom and Trump symbolizes that fact. Listening to the man talk you get the impression that you are listening to a ten year old child; yet, he is the president of the greatest military power on planet earth and is rich to booth! Honestly, do you see any word that comes out of Trump's lying mouth as wise? To me he is an unmitigated buffoon! So, my Igbo friend, do not pursue money at the expense of wisdom.
Listen, do something about your personality; whether you know it or not there are trained people who see you as you are, not as you pretend to be.
People are not fools; they have discernment and can see you objectively. For example, a certain Igbo chap writes like an illiterate but tells us that he is an engineer. Folks keep calling him a roadside mechanic. Why? It is because his behavior is like that of an illiterate mechanic; telling us that he is an engineer will not make any difference.
Another Igbo chap, Nebu, claims to be an attorney and writes like an Aba motor park thug. He curses people out, writes like an illiterate trying to impress you with his erudition (he has not written anything that I would give a passing grade in English, and I have written a book on English Grammar).
If one is an attorney one does not have to tell us for us to know so. I remember reading a certain chap called Seyi Awefeso. He did not go about telling us that he is an attorney but most of us guessed that he is an attorney. The man is top notch; in the USA he is the type of attorney that is in demand and can easily command $500 an hour for his services. Another Nigerian, Adeyinka Makinde writes with such erudition on East-West relationships, especially on US and Russia that you do not have to have studied International relations and International law to know that he is an expert in that field.
Folks always can tell who you are; so, you do not need to tell them who you are; don't tell folks that you an engineer or attorney or what not; let your works tell people who you are.
If you are normal folks know it; if you are neurotic (personality disordered) folks know it; if you are psychotic folks know it.
Therefore, try to know who you are. I hope that this little essay I wrote upon coming back from two and half hours walk on the snow can help you figure out who you are.
(My house abuts a wooded park; you can walk on the park's trail for ten miles and are still in the woods. This afternoon they are having a dog sledge run on the normally winter cross country skiing trail, so there were police and people lined up on the trail and that kind of disturbed my peace. I generally like to escape from civilization and be in the woods. Actually, I live at Anchorage, Alaska for that reason; to me no other city in the USA comes close to Anchorage in beauty; may be San Francisco and Seattle? Since I am a classical music aficionado and have practically gone to most symphonies in major US cities, I can tell you right now that our symphony and its theater is the best in the USA; Washington DC's JFK Center for the Performing Arts is primitive compared to our Egan Center for the performing Arts!)
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
February 25, 2017