One of humankind’s greatest assets: our ability to wonder.
The best thing about wonderment is that it’s free. It’s free and anyone can utilize it. All you need is a little curiosity, a little motivation. The best thing about curiosity is you don’t have to be the brightest mind in the history of bright minds to embrace it.
There’s this odd phenomena across the globe causing people to think intelligence is truly quantifiable. It’s leaking into neuroscience as well, as they attempt to quantify consciousness.
How do you see yourself, anyway? Do you see yourself as someone who is curious? Who is playful? Who is open-minded? Smart? Unfortunate? Disturbed? Dumb? How much of how you see yourself does the world see?
I didn’t know I was smart until I knew I was smart. And I knew I was smart when I gave myself a chance to show myself what I could do.
It’s a shame, I think, that we often get caught up in the idea of competition. It fuels our ego when we win and (for some) motivates better from us when we lose. Sometimes it motivates us to the point of self destruction. Sometimes we get so busy scrambling up a ladder that we don’t realize the top disappears into the clouds. And then we pause our thoughts and see the others climbing up their ladders ahead of us, all around us, and we see their success as a reflection of our failure. Then we start climbing down and we hide. We hide and we look up at the others and we remind ourselves we’re not them.
We get the sense that our struggle is also a reflection of failure. We get the sense that because we can’t compete with them, we have no right to compete at all. We miss the fact that we haven’t been competing with anyone but ourselves.
I speak on this as a smart person, formally labeled dumb. I speak on this as a person with so many ideas, so much curiosity, who wasted so much time ignoring both of those things trying to find a logical reason for why I failed in so many areas of life. Putting an algorithm on life is like trying to capture a wasp in flight on the tip of a sewing needle.
About 50 people, online and in the real world, have asked me over these last few months why in the world I would ever want to go into something like Psychiatry. Some people call it a pseudoscience, some people call it corruption, some people say it kills, some people say it saves, some people call it medicine. I disagree with no one and I agree with no one. It’s whatever you want it to be.
It’s man attempting to fix what doesn’t need to be fixed.
It’s, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “the sad confession, and continual exemplification of the short-comings of the composite man–the spirit burthened with clay and working in matter–and of the despair that assails the higher nature, at finding itself so miserably thwarted by the earthly part”.
It’s this consistent belief that we can one day have a power over nature that nature could never fathom to have over us. It’s the idea that because we have this incredible gift to wonder, to be curious, to create, to calculate, to consider, that we should separate ourselves from something as simple as natural simplicity. It’s a portion of the arrogance of man.
If anyone was wondering, that’s my definition of Psychiatry.
You don’t have to be smart to be a psychiatrist. It would help, but it’s not necessary. Hell, you don’t even have to know anything about neuroscience or psychology to be a psychiatrist.
We have this weird impression in society that because someone obtains something like a medical degree, they are smart. Because we have this impression of them, we trust their advice more often than we would trust the advice of someone off the street. Sometimes we even refrain from asking questions because we might feel stupid, or because we’re not sure if it’s the “right” thing to ask.
That disturbs me. It disturbs me because that’s squandering curiosity. And to squander curiosity, especially when it involves your own health, your own body, your own mind, and your own future, should be a hate crime.
I would hate to perpetuate fear and suspiciousness. But I would hate more so to perpetuate submissiveness.
Little known fact: before I chose this career path, I had my eyes set on a doctorate in physics. Theoretical and particle physics blew my mind; they always will. I spent countless hours in high school reading books about entanglement, and dark matter, and light, and gravity, and multiverse theory, and string theory, and although I hadn’t the slightly clue what the math equations in the quantum mechanics books meant, I knew it was something generations of curious people had been working on for some time now and that, to me, was something to admire much more than Justin Beiber, Bieber, Beaver, whatever.
I recognized that much of the math was only proving what hundreds of Native and indigenous people all over the place, including China, had been saying since they had the ability to tell stories. That, to me, was something else to admire: the merge between spiritual and scientific.
There are so many things in this world and so many more things outside of this world. It’s a crime to lock yourself inside of a box in your mind and focus so much on hurt, and pain, and struggle, that you keep yourself from looking up at the sky at night. It’s a shame that we trap our minds on Earth with our bodies.
Wonder! Create! Be curious! If someone calls you crazy for it, take it as a compliment: it seems only the crazy ones find meaning in the meaningless, and that’s pretty impressive.
Why psychiatry then? To remind people there are so many things in life to wonder about, to worry about, to obsessive about, and your sanity shouldn’t be one of them.