From the psychological to the philosophical viewpoint

This blog has been described as a personal journey. It is, but it centers around a world view which, behind a veil of grey shades (I hate how it is impossible to use that expression anymore without evoking thoughts of grey eyes and luxurious bedrooms) is fairly black and white. The main question I keep on asking myself is: Am I the hero or the villain? I´m asking this question in the lingo of psychology, that is: I´m asking if I´m a narcissist or an abuse victim, if I have a distorted perspective or if everybody else is lying, and my most-read post even carries this dichotomy in the title: Maladaptive Daydreaming – narcissism or dissociation?

I´ve been engaging in this kind of inner conflict for almost ten years now. And the worst thing about this is that I always feel as if I actually know better. I know that psychological concepts are just concepts, and flawed at that. I know that one day I´m going to die, and I know that it is very possible that this life is all I have before my consciousness is extinguished and the world goes on without me – forever. In the light of this, how can I justify letting an idea that was invented around one hundred years ago weigh me down so much? A hundred years are nothing compared to the history of mankind, and the history of mankind is nothing compared to the length of time I will be dead. I will be dead forever.

Problem is: In the light of this, I can justify nothing. No course of action I could take is so meaningful that it could stand out against the infinity of time that obliterates us all. And maybe, on some deeper level, this is what´s behind my inability to choose a profession. To talk about professions in a context like this actually seems bizarre to me. A “mission” is the most mundane thing I will accept.

In the lingo of psychology, this is narcissism. I take my own life so seriously that I cannot do anything with it, because no pursuit is worthy to be what I make of such a unique event as my existence. To this, I´ve added a second problem: I take my own “purity” of mind/character/personality – heck, maybe even soul – so seriously that I´m scared of committing myself to any idea, belief, theory, role, identity. Yes, overall I´m scared of commitment.

There seem to be two ways out of this: One way is to say “my life is not THAT important after all”. It is either a way of being cynical, or a way to punish myself. The other way is to find an entity I can ascribe meaning to. That entity could be a god, it could be society, it could be a family. “I need to work because God wants me to be useful to the world.” – “I need to work because everybody must make a contribution to society.” – “I need to work because I have to feed my family.” What I do doesn´t have to be meaningful in itself – it is meaningful because it contributes to something greater than myself. For those who favour this second solution, this must add up quite nicely: Those who cannot see meaning in making a contribution are narcissists, as they lack all connection to anything greater than themselves. They are lonely, detached, dissatisfied, and ultimately unsuccessful.

I´ve been looking inside of me for where, when and how that link broke. How come I cannot connect, how come I´m detached, what the hell is broken inside of me? I´ve subjected myself to the idea that my nihilism* is somehow neurotic and therefore curable, but somewhere in the back of my head there´s always been this conviction that actually it is spot-on. It is a view that maybe, just maybe I might be able to change – but deep down I just don´t want to, and I feel some kind of disdain for the idea of “changing”. It would indeed be a paradoxical endeavour: I´m supposed to teach myself to believe in something which I believe is wrong? Just because it would make me happy?

I´ve always been at war with a world that seemed to embrace this second solution. I always felt like I need to prove to them that I can succeed. And yet, in the sense that I´m talking about, I can´t. I can get good grades. I can´t achieve anything meaningful if nothing means anything to me. And yet success in the broadest possible sense is to achieve something meaningful.

There are two ways to go about this, and I think I might take both. The first way is to look for something meaningful, find something that means something to me. The second way is to remember that the world I am at war with is largely unaware even of my existence, leave alone my war. It is, essentially, my own private struggle, and the opponents are in my head. What other people, real people think of me doesn´t really matter so much. If I fail, is what matters most really that some random people will experience a moment of schadenfreude?

I guess what makes us feel that life or specific actions are meaningful is – feelings. While life might “objectively” (if such a thing exists) be meaningless, overwhelming feelings have the power to make things seem significant. And while I often enough would like to deny it, I do seem to have feelings, too. And if I can´t shake them all off (and wouldn´t that be pointless, in a way?) in order to satisfy my “nihilism”, if I will always have feelings, then maybe I should better start taking a good look at them, and at the meaning they give to things.

 

*I´m actually wrong when I say I´m nihilistic. I still very much believe in the meaning of meaning. I want the things I do to be meaningful. I want to become a meaningful person. What I cannot feel is that the things I could do mean enough or anything at all, leave alone such concepts as society or god.

 

 

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