Encyclopedia Neurotica

addiction memoir
Increasingly popular literary genre in which the authors
congratulate themselves for their triumphs over substance

adult temper tantrum
No longer the exclusive domain of small children, the temper
tantrum is now acceptable grown-up behavior, and not just for
athletes and celebrities; some management experts actually offer
tips on how to lose your temper at the office for maximum

Age of Anxiety, the
Appellation bestowed on the 20th century by the poet W.H. Auden in
his book-length poem of the same title, which won a Pulitzer Prize
in 1948.

The uncontrollable urge to affect a British accent, most often
afflicting celebrities (Madonna, Faye Dunaway, Sammy Davis Jr.,
Kathleen Turner, Jessye Norman) and, for some reason, Reform

bad choices
Psychobabble for ‘dumb mistakes.’

catalog-induced anxiety
The anguish of envy.

cell yell
Loud talking on cell phones in public places by people with the
apparent neurotic need to invade their own privacy.

clutter buddy
The burgeoning ‘clutter management’ movement has produced the
clutter buddy, a recovering clutterer (formerly ‘pack rat’) who
supports one actively obsessed with the accumulation of unnecessary
objects, and ‘clutter clinics’ where clutterers learn to avoid such
pitfalls as ‘churning’ — moving clutter from one place to another
instead of throwing it away.

creativity-equals-craziness equation
Romantic notion that creativity is a product of repression and that
great artists are likely to be mentally unbalanced.

Hypochondria resulting from seeing one’s symptoms on a medical Web

emotional vulnerability
A strength that used to be a weakness.

guideline creep
Maddening tendency of experts to raise the bar on health-habit
standards just when you thought you were doing okay, as when the
U.S. government increased from half an hour to an hour the minimum
amount of daily exercise necessary for optimum cardiovascular

Traditionally, remorse over having done something wrong;
self-reproach for some moral failure. Now, a chronic,
free-floating, unarticulated malaise, a festering sense of
existential worthlessness. And then you feel guilty for feeling

Pleasurable hatred of someone or something, especially annoying
celebrities or powerful organizations.

intellectual boob
Someone with a good education but no common sense.

Internet addiction disorder
Term coined by Ivan Goldberg in 1996 as a parody of America’s
obsession with addiction, but now used earnestly to describe people
who are unable to control the amount of time they spend online
engaging in chat rooms, auction shopping, pornography, gambling,
day trading, etc.

Old-fashioned word for intense pleasure or happiness.

life coach
One who helps others make important decisions, sort of a personal
trainer of the psyche. Not surprisingly, an occupation invented in

A solitary person judged odd by nearly everyone else, even though
most of the great achievements in music, art, literature,
philosophy, and science result from quiet contemplation by

myth of Sisyphus, the
Sisyphus was condemned by Zeus to push a huge boulder up a steep
hill forever. Every time the boulder neared the top, it would roll
back down and Sisyphus would have to start all over again. Thus, an
apt metaphor for the human condition.

What we believe we require for physical or emotional health. Usage
note: Often combined with ‘my’ but rarely with ‘your.’

quiet desperation
Mute resignation to a life blighted by the grinding conformity of
postindustrial society.

retirement panic
Fear of not having enough money for retirement (especially
prevalent among baby boomers).

Once forbidden — or at least discouraged — it is now the Greatest
Love of All.

tucke des objekts, die
Literally, ‘the malice of things,’ the sneaking dread that machines
are biding their time until they can turn on us and take over the

Highly sought after but largely hypothetical state of tip-top
physical, mental, and spiritual health resulting from proper diet,
regular exercise, and good mental hygiene.

Excerpted from the book Encyclopedia Neurotica by
Jon Winokur, with a foreword by Richard Lewis. ©2005 by Jon
Winokur. Reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press,

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