Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la pipe, 1905

Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la pipe, 1905

"The anguish of the neurotic individual is the same as that of the saint. The neurotic, the saint are engaged in the same battle. Their blood flows from similar wounds. But the first one gasps and the other one gives." — Georges Bataille

After learning more about neuroticism today, I believe I'm someone who scores high on neuroticism.

In an effort to learn more about this condition, and how to cope with it, I'm reading a few articles and taking some notes as I go.

what it is

  • a personality trait, not a mental health condition
  • prone to easily aroused, sometimes uncontrollable, negative emotions that don't interfere with daily function
  • one of the "Big Five" personality traits in psychological development theory, originally outlined in 1949 by D.W. Fiske


  • Do you suffer from "nerves"?
  • Do you worry too long after an embarrassing experience?
  • Are your feelings easily hurt?
  • Are you often troubled by feelings of guilt?
  • Are you an irritable person?


  • a natural inclination for negative emotions (anger, anxiety, sadness, depression, self-doubt, jealousy, etc.)
  • easy emotional stimulation
  • persistent worrying or ruminating
  • finding it challenging to manage emotions in the moment
  • experiencing major shifts in emotions
  • feeling unable to cope with or overcome challenges
  • regular tendency to have excessive reactions to minor scenarios
  • persistent worrying


  • greater creativity: a neurotic's worries comes from an overactive imagination, like a cinema screen in your head playing different possibilities, allowing you to consider different choices and actions.
    • at worst, this contributes to unhappy rumination, but also deeper thinking and more original ideas. this is an advantage compared with someone who never thinks about problems
    • ex: Isaac Newton, known to have be melancholic and ruminative, he would repeatedly brood over the scientific questions that were troubling him and eventually crack them months or years later


  • reframe "negative" -> "difficult"
  • develop emotional granularity: learn how to describe your emotional state with complexity, it helps you clearly behold an emotion and suggests an action
  • seek adventure: develop a discipline fo risk-taking, forcing yourself to do things you wouldn't do and make that a regular part of your life. "The opposite of anxiety is exploration"
  • put it into words
  • self-distancing: looking at a problem from an outside perspective, imagine you are advising a friend who is facing the same issue.
  • acceptance and reappraisal: look at your worries and anxieties dispassionately. question whether your thoughts have good factual basis, conveys useful information that you can act on, and whether there could be a more positive interpretation of an event.