Note: Dysrationalia is not a DSM diagnosis.

Dysrationalia is a possible diagnosis for me. I encountered the term in Keith E Stanovich's The Robot's Rebellion. The term makes me smile, and/or I suppose laugh at myself, but I don't actually find it easy to accept that my lack of success in life is completely due to my own irrationality. Anyway, the idea is that some who possess adequate intelligence seem to make irrational choices in life, but it is theoretically possible to behave rationally whatever your level of intelligence.

It is up to each of us to acquire the necessary knowledge and resources that will lead to successfully mastering our environment.

What sucks for me personally is if on one hand I am seen as too irrational to conquer my environment, but on the other I may have been given (at least on one occasion) a particular diagnosis (schizoid personality disorder) because I was too rational about emotions to seem human. However, rationality in one area does not mean that one is rational in all areas.

...Right from the very start, when life imposes its strict discipline upon us, a resistance arises in us against the relentlessness and monotony of the laws of thought and against the demands of reality-testing. Reason becomes an enemy that withholds from us so many possibilities of pleasure...

Sigmund Freud, An Outline of Psychoanalysis

Freud's hopes for mankind, including the future of psychoanalysis, revolved around reason. The purpose of psychoanalysis was to help us to get in touch with the primal drives and unconscious motivations for our actions, such that we could use our reason to confront and change them, or at least modify them.

Simplified, (I have taken these summaries from The Robot's Rebellion), the following represent ways of accounting for irrational behaviour.

Panglossian: performance errors, incorrect evaluation of behavior, and alternative task construal - are reasons for behavior suboptimalities (those with this view do not like to use the term 'irrational')

Meliorist: not all human reasoning errors can be explained away. Advertisers assume that people don't know what they want, and can be influenced for advertiser's gain more than personal utility

Apologist: short-term memory spans, limited long-term storage capacity, limited perceptual abilities, and limited ability to sustain the serial reasoning operations that are needed to reason logically and probabistically - In many situations the computational requirements of the optimal response exceed those of the human brain

It would seem to me that all of these factors would play a part.

I am a 'high evaluator', which means that I find it distressing when I can't live the way I think - or when I can find no rational or justifiable reason for my behaviour.

...It is not enough to try to be rational given one's beliefs and goals. The beliefs and goals themselves must be evaluated in order to make sure we are not merely pursuing the ends of a replicating entity whose properties do not serve us as vehicles. We must learn how to critique our desires and beliefs...

Keith E Stanovich, The Robot's Rebellion

One reason I have had for seeking conversation is to help me get a grasp on an overview of my thinking - the implications, consequences, progressions if followed through and seen as a whole - if your ideas are never tested in real-life situations and conversations, there may be some kinds of 'progress' that are inaccessible.

I want to test my own rationality or develop my own rationality. The people I have sought out might represent steps in this process. It is one thing to learn from books, but another to try to discuss things with another human being or try to put your ideas into practice.

When I was a child, I was often praised for my rationality. For example, although my parents fought fiercely and immaturely with each other, my father would remark upon how calmly and rationally I responded, saying that he himself could not manage (when talking to my mother, or in general). Some boyfriends accused me of not really caring because I refused to get angry and yell and do the usual things, instead of calmly trying to understand the situation and explain my point of view. I also thought it was best to state outright things like 'Yes, I do want to sleep with other people' - which was the kind of thing that was seen as cold, or 'messing with' someone's head.

Unfortunately, either because I am female and certain assumptions are made about me, or because of the way I personally am perceived, the very information I ask for is often withheld from me out of something like 'kindness', or a belief that I don't really mean what I say, or that I might kill myself if I am rejected. I may be able to guess the truth, but I will not be allowed to have concrete acknowledgment of it - or maybe sometimes years later I will find out.

One of my hurdles to rationality is that I seem to have a lot of mental junk that is constantly in need of sorting. I think that part of it is related to heightened awareness or perception, that there are perceptions I am able to access that probably most people filter out as unnecessary, but which in my case have contributed to me finding alternative solutions and perhaps to having a more unusual life.

But there is a lot of junk to sort through in order to find a few unusual insights, and this can be time-consuming as well as energy-consuming. The process of sorting can be annoying, but I also recognize that it may represent a process that has chemical effects that might approximate those of some medications. In other words, it may be therapeutic. As to whether it is worth it, or whether some medication might be less hassle but have more undesirable side effects, I guess that has been for me to sort out. But it could be that while I would consciously wish to strive for rationality, and that I would like to be thought of as a rational person, I am constantly battling a temperament and thinking style that is in opposition to this. I don't know for sure, and keep try to untangle it.

At present, I think I am rational enough to understand the reasons people may see me as fundamentally irrational. I am trying to be open-minded enough to work out if that really is my problem. In the meantime, I keep trying to understand and explain my experience, and find that for me, that is the best I can do right now toward self-development.















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