When you meet a human being, the first distinction you make is ‘male or female?’ and you are accustomed to make the distinction with unhesitating certainty. […] An individual is not a man or a woman but always both- merely a certain amount more the one than the other. […] The proportion in which masculine and feminine are mixed in an individual is subject to quite considerable fluctuations. […] What constitutes masculinity or femininity is an unknown characteristic which anatomy cannot lay hold of.
Pathology has always done us the service of making discernible by isolation and exaggeration conditions which would remain concealed in a normal state.
We are all susceptible to the hindsight bias, which refers to our tendency to overestimate our powers of prediction once we know the outcome of given event. For example, research has shown that on the day after an election, when people are asked which candidates they would have picked to win, they almost always believe they would have picked the actual winners- even though the day before the election, their predictions wouldn’t have been nearly as accurate.
People have a tendency to explain unpleasant behavior by attaching a labels to the perpetrator (“crazy,” “sadistic,” or whatever), thereby excluding that person from the rest of “us nice people.” In that way, we need not worry about the unpleasant behavior because it has nothing to do with us nice folks. The danger in this kind of thinking is that it tends to make sue smug about our own susceptibility to situational pressures that could produce unpleasant behavior, and it leads to a rather simple-minded approach to the solution of social problems. […] Some situational variables can move a great proportion of us “normal” adults to behave in very unappetizing ways.
The search for the core personality traits that characterize people has a long history. In recent years, researchers have focused on the Big Five factors of personality: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (emotional stability). […]
-A study of the Big Five factors revealed that conscientiousness was the best predictor of both high school and college grade-point average. In this study, openness was the best predictor of SAT verbal scores.
-A study of fifth- to eight-graders found that conscientiousness was linked to better interpersonal relationships: higher-quality friendships, better acceptance by peers, and less victimization by peers. […]
-A longitudinal study of more than 1,200 individuals across seven decades revealed conscientious individuals lived longer from childhood through late adulthood.
Trauma impels people both to withdraw from close relationships and to seek them desperately. The profound disruption in basic trust, the common feelings of shame, guilt, and inferiority, and the need to avoid reminders of the trauma that might be found in social life, all foster withdrawal from close relationships. But the terror of the traumatic event intensifies the need for protective attachments. The traumatized person therefore frequently alternates between isolation and anxious clinging to others. […] It results in the formation of intense, unstable relationships that fluctuate between extremes.
A small minority of exceptional people appear to be relatively invulnerable in extreme situations. […] Stress-resistant individuals appear to be those with high sociability, a thoughtful and active coping style, and a strong perception of their ability to control their destiny.
Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin.
When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours?
Where does a thought go when it’s forgotten?