Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Word of the Day: hypergraphia

I picked it up this evening on my solitary walk to downtown for my weekly cookie-fix. I was browsing in Bookshop, when I happened upon a book called The Midnight Disease-- a pop-psychology book about how abnormal brain chemistry compels certain people to write. I read the first chapter (which was so good that I was briefly tempted to buy it) and the writer defined it and talked at length about the temporal lobe (the bit above your ears) an its relation to epilepsy and different sorts of depression. She went on to list the characteristics of a typical hypergraphic.

Caveat: These are the ones that I remember, mostly because they seemed so vaguely familiar. I kept thinking as I read the list, "what!? this is not normal!" There were some that didn't apply to me, which I have conveniently forgotten.

-they are prolific
-they are compelled to write, they take pleasure in the sounds of the words, the calligraphy, even if they think no one is going to read it. The simple act of writing is its own reward.
-they are not necessarily good writers, but their writing is coherent (unlike, say, automatic writers, or brain-damaged people).
-emotions are felt intensely and are considered to be deeply meaningful.
-they have crazy relatives
-they write long letters, keep diaries and now they blog.
-they might suffer from epilepsy and/or depression.
-they fill their margins with drawings, decorations + more writing
-they use Capital Letters to BRING ATTENTION TO THINGS
-they have abnormal sexuality

check... check... check... (oh groan, mea culpa)... check... double check! check.... not usually... check... (I WOULD If It wasn't for Mrs Dei Rossi, my seventh grade English teacher who instilled in me the Proper Rules for Capitalization-- a brilliant piece of education now that I think about it-- hell, I even remember the dittoed handouts)... er, I am taking the fifth on the last one.

I am sure I am not the only hypergraphic out there (poulet!, mah fellow bloggers!). A couple months ago, it was popular in my clutch of friends to claim to be synesthetic (associating un-like things such as colors and numbers, food and colors, etc). I arbitrarily decided there was no way I was synesthetic (becuase every one else was), so now I am thrilled to auto-label myself "hypergraphic" (at least until every one else does, then I will miraculously recover).

Some famous hypergraphics... Dostoyevsky, Lewis Carroll, Poe...

One of the tests for hypographia is the question: "What is your mental state?" followed by a big blank. Non-hypergraphics' average response is 73 words. The average hypergraphic responce: 5000.

This must be quite common... if you are have read this far... I bet you have it. (ha ha ha!)

Your assignment is: press the comment button and describe your mental state.

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