Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Things Asexuals Like: Overanalyzing

"Going deeper takes longer and hurts more. The courage with which Freud faced the radical madness of modern life in Civilization and Its Discontents is rare. He was prepared to psychoanalyze our entire culture."
--The great Theodore Roszak

Hello, friends! I'm back with another installment of Things Asexuals Like. I think it's pretty obvious that asexuals overanalyze things. And if you think I don't have enough scientific data to make this claim...well...you're just proving my point. I was inspired to write this post when I saw a poll on AVEN about Enneagram types. If you're not familiar with the Enneagram, it's a way to determine personality type based on 9 categories. Usually I'd think this sort of thing is bogus, but my type (#4, if you're curious) described me so accurately that it was sort of eerie. Anyway, in this poll, 40% of AVENites that took an Enneagram test said that their type was #5, "The Thinker". At a distant second place, 14% were #6, "The Skeptic". Is anyone surprised by these results? When people ask "Are asexual smarter?" I think what those people are noticing is not a special intelligence, but rather a disposition towards analysis that can seem like it to the untrained eye.

It has been asked why asexuals spend so much time thinking about and studying asexuality and sexuality in general. And once I started thinking about writing this post, it was suddenly clear to me why this is so. It takes a lot of analyzing, both of yourself and society, to get to asexuality. Overanalyzing is not something you can just turn off once you get to a realization. If you have a tendency to overanalyze things, you've probably had it your whole life, and asexuality is just one of the many things you've thought to death.

And I don't mean to say that I or anyone else "likes" overanalyzing. There can be a certain thrill in coming up with connections between esoteric topics, but it's usually not that fun. It may not be asexuality that leads so many of us into anxiety and depression-- it might be our constant overanalyzing of a mad world. The life of overanalysis can be a very lonely one. Since most of the pillars of our culture ("Buy something and everything will be fine!") survive based on our not thinking about them too much, overanalysis can be both profoundly powerful and profoundly isolating. In fact, I analyzed myself right out of mainstream culture. I wish I could go back to the days when I thought George W. Bush might do an OK job, but sadly, those are gone forever. Now, I get irked whenever I see "Male or female?" as a choice on a survey. Asexuality can be very radicalizing, which I don't think is a bad thing. But that's just one more reason why we need to stick together. One overanalyzer looks like a lunatic, but put a bunch together and it's a movement.

11 comments:

pretzelboy said...

Speaking as someone how has long over-analyzed his tendency towards over-analysis, it is worth pointing out that it may well be that it is asexual bloggers who over-analyze. Or it could be asexuals who gravitate towards certain threads who over-analyze. Or it could be that I over-analyze so much that I have little ability to judge what constitutes over-analysis. Or it could be confirmation bias on your part in response to previous response to your posts on "Things asexuals like." Or it could be...

Noskcaj Llahsram said...

I understand where you're coming from, just tonight the family went out to an Australian restaurant, and the only lamb/sheep on the menu was called New Zealand brazed something or rather, and for about 10 minutes I couldn't understand why an Australian themed restaurant would go through the trouble of importing the lamb, yet not only import it from a different country, but one of Australia's largest competitors, both economically, socially, and culturally? Some other things on the menu I started to over analyze too, but I kept coming back to to the New Zealand lamb in the Australian restaurant. Along similar lines I had to join in with the conversation between my parents and my brother's date about how they shouldn't call sushi "Chinese food" being both inaccurate description of the style of the food it self, and insensitive of the deep social, and cultural rift of the two countries, especially since being exacerbated during WWII

gatto said...

Whenever I find that I'm spending too much time inside my head, and losing focus on the immediate reality of here and now, I usually go for some kitty snuggles, and they are good for bringing me down to earth. In a good way. As opposed to the come-crashing-down way. They make it easy.

Kitties are so amazing.

Kim said...

Related to the topic of over-analysis: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=depressions-evolutionary

The authors of this article claim that because people with depression tend to constantly think about their problems, they are more able to come up with different ways to think about things and different solutions, which could be an evolutionary advantage.

Ily said...

Kim- that's an interesting article. What do you think of it? The authors don't mention that a lot of what depressed people ruminate on is totally illogical ("Everyone hates me", "I'm the worst person in the world", "I can't do anything right", etc). "Rumination" seems to be a double-edged sword, or at least that's how it's been for me.

I think that like Gatto says, it's good to have strategies for getting out of heads a little...sometimes you just might want to enjoy the New Zealand dish :-) (I probably would have wondered something similar!)

Ily said...

Sorry...*our* heads. I wish you could edit comments...

Kim said...

The problem with evolutionary psychology is that there's really no way to prove that x trait is caused by y advantage. However, it is interesting to think about. So, assuming that depression does have an evolutionary advantage, I would think that it would be similar to sickle cell anemia (Those with only one of the two alleles of the sickle-cell disease are more resistant to malaria, since the infestation of the malaria plasmodium is halted by the sickling of the cells which it infests). People with a slight tendency toward depression might get the advantages mentioned in the article, while people with full-blown, chronic depression would get all of the disadvantages.

I don't remember where I read that people who are more successful are less likely to be content with their lives, but it makes sense int the context of this article since people who are less content (as opposed to depressed) would be more likely to succeed.

Raymo.E-J said...

Overanalyzing and skeptical thinking is really one of the major conditions that leads to most asexual identities, myself included. I'm having some doubts, thinking I may also be a pomosexual but this may also be due to more analyzing. But yeah, I think we all need to get together with an AVEN or asexy meetup. That is my next action. It's either that or I'm going to rejoin the sexual world as a self identified asexual.

checkout my recent post on skepticism, asexuality and being buddhist, "Peace in the Beast" @ buddhasareasexual.blogspot.com

and gatto, that sounds pretty good

Siggy said...

It's funny that you should mention the Enneagram, because my initial response to it was, "I should read up on this and try testing its consistency!" And before you know it, I wrote an 800 word essay on my blog criticizing the thing.

I think you are right about why overanalysis seems so common. It takes a very introspective person to even imagine the concept of asexuality.

kcquiche said...

I am also guilty of over-analysing, and I am as sure as a 14 year-old can be that she's asexual, but I am not sure that those two characteristics are necessarily linked. Certainly, I do agree that it takes quite a bit of self-analysing to understand one's sexuality, and perhaps even more so if one's sexuality happens to be outside society's comfort zone. However, any number of people could be asexuals, but simply never analysed themselves enough to make the connection between their emotions/actions and their sexuality. Or perhaps they never felt it necessary to analyse their emotions/actions at all.
Perhaps it is more fair to say "most self-identified asexuals over-analyse".

Also, I do not personally see a problem with the 'are you male or female?' question except perhaps that it ought to specify biological/psychological gender, for those to whom it applies.

vivian said...

"It may not be asexuality that leads so many of us into anxiety and depression-- it might be our constant overanalyzing of a mad world."


You hit the nail on the head. You don't know how many people I've encountered who have confused cause and effect. Asexuality does not (necessarily) lead to depression and other disorders; rather, they are more likely the result of a prior tendency to "over-analysis." (I, however, do not agree with the term "over-" analysis, as there is no such thing as too much analysis. Analysis is always a good thing, and the more the better.)

On a tangential note, I am also an Enneagram 5 and an INTJ (and, yes, asexual). I do believe there IS a positive correlation between IQ and asexuality; it seems as though being disinterested in sex and/or relationships gives us more time for other, more "productive" pursuits. Also, sex sells, but it doesn't sell to us, so we are more inclined to require a product to appeal to our intellect instead of superficial sexual desire.

However, things can get difficult for me in particular because 1) I'm Chinese, and Asian culture is BIG on marriage/familial obligation; and 2) I am a person with a disability, and thus I feel I'm doing a disservice to the disability community in the sense that I'm reinforcing the stereotype of "disability = asexuality."