Sunday, January 27, 2019

Unlucky Thirteen

Today is the 13th anniversary of this blog. I wanted to write a sharp and subversive post.1 Or at least compose a series of self-deprecating witticisms about persisting this long. Alas, it has been an extremely  difficult year.

Instead, I drew inspiration from Twitter (@neuroecology) and a blogger who's been at it even longer than I (@DoctorZen). Very warily I might add, because I knew the results would not be flattering or pretty.

Behold my scores on the “Big Five” personality traits (and weep). Some of the extremes are partly situational, and that's why I'm presenting these traits separately. Sure, negative emotionality is a relative fixed part of my personality, but the 100% scores on depression and anxiety are influenced by grief (due to the loss of my spouse of 12 years). Personality psychologists would turn this around and say that someone high in trait negative emotionality (formerly known as the more disparaging “neuroticism”) would be predisposed to depression and anxiety.

Another fun trait score is shown below. This one might be even sadder. Yeah, I'm introverted, but people in my situation often tend to withdraw from friends, family, and society.2 Again, reverse the causality if you wish, but social isolation is not an uncommon response.

But hey, I am pretty conscientious, as you can see from my overall test results on the Big Five. You too can take the test HERE.

I'll have something more interesting for you next time.


1 Why? To prove to myself that I can still do it? To impress the dwindling number of readers? To show how the blog has not exceeded its expiry date it still has relevance in its own modest and quirky way.

2 Hey, I actually had two social engagements this weekend! My lack of assertiveness is disturbing, however. But I absolutely do not want to take the lead on anything right now.

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At January 28, 2019 4:10 AM, Blogger Alain said...

I scored 33 on agreableness and 42 on negative emotionality. The rest is above average.


At January 28, 2019 6:55 AM, Anonymous David J Littleboy said...

I also come out sky high on "openness to new experience", which is completely hilarious because as I move into retirement, I'm very specifically intending to not do anything new at all but rather push deeper into the rabbit holes I've already dug myself (Go (the game), photography (landscape/abstract), Japanese language and lit, bebop/hard bop guitar).

And to add insult to injury, a BBC test of a similar nature tells me that the country I'm most similar to personalitywise is Cyprus (huh?) and most different from is Japan. Which is odd, since I've lived here half my like and am very fond of the Japanese, the language, and the literature and art. And the Japanese do real well at the not specifically Japanese things I do (photography, jazz, Go).


Condolences on your loss. I hope you can come to some peace with it. I'm not much help, though. My father ran into hideous medical "care" at the "best hospital in Boston" and didn't survive it, It was 10 years ago, and I'm still raging at it. It hurts.

At January 28, 2019 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Neurocritic, thanks for keeping this blog going! Despite your difficult year, your observations bring life to many of my conversations. My fiancé is a cognitive neuroscientist, and I'm teaching a graduate psychology courses, so your candid, sometime sardonic commentary helps us both keep the sensationalism, from media and students, in balance. Have you done any posts on neuroimaging and music? We hope you see it through to year 14!

At January 28, 2019 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Neurocritic,

What kind of thing is the internet when it can't be used to
send something someone really needs: a dose of inner strength
booster? That's what I'd like to send you for the 13th
Birthday of your Blog.

What I can send, and must hope will do as an alternative, is
an expression of my appreciation of, and great liking for, your
Blog. Your continuing to write this despite your deep
personal pain and grief, has, for me, at least, been an
example of how the really toughest parts of life can be lived

I am sure I'm not the only one of your Blog readers to benefit
from your carefully thought out and prepared posts, and who
enjoy them as the small diamonds they are, amongst the vast
amounts of crap that floods out over the internet each day.
So I hope this message will help you know that others out here
need you to keep on, and wish you the inner strength to do so.

Best regards,


At January 29, 2019 2:23 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thanks for all your comments! (and sorry for the delay in posting them).

At January 29, 2019 2:44 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

David J Littleboy - Thank you for the condolences.

I also felt that some of the descriptions were inaccurate (e.g., with 92 negative emotionality / 25 extraversion, my relationships were not train wrecks):

"High negative emotionality: Conflict in relationships doesn’t have to be inherently destructive, and thank goodness for that, because your tendency toward anger, frustration and anxiety means your relationships probably have plenty of tension. What’s more, you’re likely carrying that predisposition toward conflict with you from relationship to relationship. The good news is that other parts of your personality affect relationship quality, too. Nobody is only one trait. For example, higher scores on extraversion are correlated with satisfying marriages, so a person with high negative emotionality and high extraversion might have a very different relationship history than someone high in negative emotionality and low in extraversion."

That's really funny, because my relationship was mostly conflict-free, except for a stretch of time when the other party had moderately uncontrolled bipolar 1. The right medication made all the difference. And before that I was in a relationship where we never argued or disagreed.

At January 29, 2019 3:06 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

To Anonymous #1 and #2 - Thanks for your encouragement and kind words. It has been hard to continue writing, more difficult than I anticipated. Besides a lack of emotional energy and focus, I wonder "why bother?" So I really appreciate your support.

For music, there's: Music and Empathy

More Music, More Empathy (this one has neuroimaging)

I have a few oddities like Music from Your Brain and several case studies of unusual syndromes involving music.

At January 29, 2019 3:13 AM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Oh, now I noticed that Anonymous #2 is Tim, so thank you Tim.

At February 15, 2019 6:55 AM, Blogger Mark Levison said...

Dear Neurocrtic - your friends and readers are still here. We will support you needing to mourn and remember.

I'm a computer scientist and so well out of my depth with Big 5 anything. Instead I just wanted you to know you still have friends and readers - even if the Canadian ones are buried under a meter of snow.

At February 17, 2019 1:46 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thank you, Mark. I very much appreciate your comments. And Sandra would have been happy to hear about Canadian readers!


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