I went to a small gathering the other day and struck up a conversation with a woman I was meeting for the first time…

We exchanged the usual pleasantries and before long, she confided that she felt a bit out-of-place in Kamloops, but she figured this was because she’d lived most of her life in Vancouver, a much larger city with many more amenities and lots of “diversity”. She then asked me if I have ever lived anywhere else.

My new acquaintance was full of questions when I told her that indeed I had lived in another place – another country in fact – for most of my life. After a brief description of my lifestyle in Mexico, she threw her arms up in the air and shook her head back and forth. “I could never do anything so eccentric,” she said.

That rattled me a bit. I’ve always considered an artist like van Gogh, an actor like Robin Williams, an entertainer like Lady Gaga or those older ladies in purple hats to be eccentric – but me?

I decided to go on line to read some definitions and more opinions. I found psychiatrist David Weeks website – he has conducted a study called, “Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness”. The short video on the site )

intrigued me and I delved further. Bingo! I found Dr. Weeks’ inventory of the 25 descriptors of eccentricity. He lists them in descending order of importance – the first five being the most significant.

  • Enduring non-conformity
  • Creativity
  • Strongly motivated by an exceedingly powerful curiosity and related exploratory behavior
  • A constant and distinct feeling of differentness from others
  • Idealism
  • Happily obsessed with a number of long-lasting preoccupations (usually about five or six)
  • Intelligent, in the upper fifteen per cent of the population on tests of intelligence
  • Opinionated and outspoken, convinced of being right and that the rest of the of the world is out of step with them
  • Non-competitive
  • Not necessarily in need of reassurance or reinforcement from the rest of society
  • Unusual eating habits and living arrangements
  • Not particularly interested in the opinions or company of other people, except perhaps in order to persuade them to their contrary point of view
  • Possessed of a mischievous sense of humor, charm, whimsy, and wit
  • More frequently an eldest or an only child
  • Eccentricity observed in at least 36% of detailed family histories, usually a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. (It should be noted that the family history method of estimating hereditary similarities and resemblances usually provides rather conservative estimates.)
  • Eccentrics prefer to talk about their thoughts rather than their feelings. There is a frequent use of the psychological defense mechanisms of rationalization and intellectualization.
  • Slightly abrasive
  • Midlife changes in career or lifestyle
  • Feelings of “invisibility” which means that they believe other people did not seem to hear them or see them, or take their ideas seriously
  • Feel that others can only take them in small doses
  • Feel that others have stolen, or would like to steal, their ideas. In some cases, this is well-founded.
  • Dislike small talk or other apparently inconsequential conversation
  • A degree of social awkwardness
  • More likely to be single, separated, or divorced, or multiply separated or divorced
  • A poor speller, in relation to their above average general intellectual functioning

Hmm-m-m-m-m… I do fit a number of those descriptions, especially the last one… thought I. Maybe I’m a a bit unconventional, but I don’t think I’d go so far as to call myself eccentric.

What about you? Do you see yourself as someone who fits this profile?

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

14 thoughts on “Eccentricity

  1. I never thought about it in that way, but on looking back I have to admit I guess to others I may be considered “eccentric”. My sister once told me in kindness that I am not like everybody else and I know it is very true. My path in life has certainly not followed the same as my peers that I grew up with. There was an elderly lady in our rural community named Ruby who many thought was “half cracked” in the way she came across. It turned out that Ruby had a wonderful gift of observation and was considered as “just different” aka eccentric.


  2. Wow. That was a fun read, Joanna!

    Makes you think.

    By those definitions, for some cultures and countries, “eccentric” seems to be their “normal”.
    (For example, I find Mexico’s approach to Catholicism to be quite eccentric!, especially compared to the U.S.)

    I guess I could be eccentric…..but, as Rita Mae Brown once said, I would prefer to be called “enchanted”!

    Thank you for researching and sharing the info/thought provoking post.


  3. Another possibility, Joanna. Maybe, just maybe, the recently advertised TV cable show on this very subject was viewed a bit earlier in Canada. So perhaps the commenter simply had that word “eccentric” on her brain, so she used it. Just a guess


  4. Actually, I have wondered from time to time if I’m not eccentric. Clearly my life choices have been pretty far from the norm. I fit the bill for about 1/3 of the characteristics you mention and, well, have worn a purple hat more than once. I certainly do not look to the rest of the world to define my own self-worth and I feel deeply sorry for those who do. If I’m eccentric, it seems to make me happy. Joanna, thanks for this stimulating blog!


  5. Dear Joanna, welcome to Mérida. Well, I certainly am eccentric and my life choices prove that. I am also the eldest of my family and do think and behave quite differently from what most people expect, from conventional norms. While careful not to intentionally hurt anyone, I am not a follower, am creative and really care little about what other people think about me… I am respected by my siblings, but they all think I am “very different” which is code for “crazy”. Wonderful! All I can say is that I wouldn’t change my life for anything… So far, it has been a most wonderful journey: thank you, thank you and thank you! And, I am just beginning! Thank you Joanna!


    1. Yes, I related with many of the same traits as you… Maybe I am so eccentric I don’t even realise I am? I love life, embrace change and follow my heart. This has got me into some very different situations but that’s OK. In fact, it’s a good thing.


  6. It seems to me the people dubbed as “eccentric” by either society or themselves are those who show a love of and zest for life because they adopt a “damn the torpodoes and full speed ahead” attitude to living it.


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