Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dictionary Schizophrenic

schizophrenia |ˌskitsəˈfrēnēə, -ˈfrenēə|, noun: a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
• (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.

I don’t mean to make light of the very real and often devastating condition of schizophrenia, but if I go by my computer’s dictionary definition of the word, I find I can readily identify with a lot of it.

Schizophrenia is often thought of as one’s having a split personality, and I happily admit to the charge. I truly consider myself, for all practical purposes, as being two separate people: Roger and Dorien, though it is more a matter of a division of responsibilities—Roger’s those duties grounded by the laws of time and physics, Dorien’s the writing of books and blogs, and entertaining Roger—than any clash or conflict of separate personalities.

“Faulty perception,” definitely. I see the world one way when most people obviously see it quite differently. They seem to accept its complexities and contradictions far more readily and casually than I. In my lifelong effort to try to understand the world, I am constantly fine-tuning my perceptions and understandings, much like fiddling with an old-time radio to get rid of static. I’ve always felt myself to be, largely by choice, an outsider, which doesn’t do much to improve the sharpness of my focus.

“Inappropriate actions and feelings,” probably more often than I would like; I seldom respond to things the way society obviously wants and expects me to. 

“Withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion.” Well most definitely the first part. Reality and I have never gotten along. I find it much too restrictive and, often, capriciously cruel. 

Being gay, I automatically if wrongly assume that everyone else is gay until and unless proven otherwise. I see no harm in it and, gays being outnumbered by straights 9-1, I find it oddly comforting. I know it’s totally unrealistic, but why should I care? When I pass an attractive man on the street, I naturally assume he’s gay. Whether he is in his own life or not is of no matter. If I don’t know for a fact that he’s straight, and I assume he’s gay, he’s gay. There is no harm done to anyone, and it pleases me.

“Withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion.” A definite yes on the “withdrawal from reality.” As mentioned above I choose to create my own reality to whatever degree possible. Being a writer helps make this easier, since when I’m in the process of writing a book, I can pretty much step away from the world that physically surrounds me and retreat into the world of my characters. The withdrawal from “personal relationships” is a toss up. Partly because of my physical difficulty in speaking, my verbal interchanges with others are limited. I have never been the “hale fellows well met” type, even when my speech was totally understandable and I was more active in the gay community. Other than my friend Gary, I really have very little face-to-face interaction with other people. I am extremely outgoing on social media sites like Facebook where my age and my speech impediments are not a problem, yet find myself saying less and less on those rare occasions when I am with other people.

“A sense of mental fragmentation.” Oh, my, yes. So many thoughts and ideas and impressions and memories swirl around in my head that I often have a difficult time in grabbing any one of them or, having caught one, holding onto it long enough to do anything with it. I am very easily distracted from whatever I…oh, look: there’s a bird…am trying to do.

My love of books and musicals and movies and flash mobs and all things romantic and fanciful are clearly rooted in my disassociation from reality. They may not be the world’s reality, but they are mine, and I delight in them. I write because I am far more comfortable creating worlds over
which I have some control and influence than coping with the real world around me.

So, am I schizophrenic? From a psychology textbook definition, no. Computer dictionary definition? More than a little. Does it bother me? Not in the least.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

Nor should it bother you. Writers have been musing over this question for more decades than I've been around. I find it fascinating how we can compartmentalize who we are as people and who we are as authors. It's part of our genius. That's right. I said it. Dorien Grey is a genius. And, gosh darn it, so am I!