Tuesday, June 14, 2005

it's gotta suck being eldest

I've been working non-stop crazy hours in a very energy sapping job and I'm not young anymore so yeah. Been too bloody tired to blog. I'm 22 going on 82 remember? Crochety old grandma. Crochety old grandma.

But I was thinking about it one day, (random thoughts galore) and I was thinking I'd love to read up on psychology books ever since I started my masters and got a taste of marketing. There are plenty of psychology-isms that have hit mainstream language

"Anal" being the most obvious reference, or "Pavlovian"/ "Freudian" and everyone's heard of Maslow's Hierachy of Needs- but since starting this course, I've learnt the specifics of The Hierachy and come across something I think everyone should but doesn't know about. Maslow's corresponding Theory of Neurosis.

"If you have significant problems along your development -- a period of extreme insecurity or hunger as a child, or the loss of a family member through death or divorce, or significant neglect or abuse -- you may “fixate” on that set of needs for the rest of your life.

This is Maslow’s understanding of neurosis. Perhaps you went through a war as a kid. Now you have everything your heart needs -- yet you still find yourself obsessing over having enough money and keeping the pantry well-stocked. Or perhaps your parents divorced when you were young. Now you have a wonderful spouse -- yet you get insanely jealous or worry constantly that they are going to leave you because you are not “good enough” for them. You get the picture.

I mean, it's not rocket science, and perhaps in an age where a shrink is considered almost essential many of these are circulating around in common everyday speech and thought and considered almost scathingly witty when someone says something like "your mother obviously didn't love you enough as a child" (or at least I find it scathingly witty). Still, it makes for interesting reading to find out the little details I guess.

(That scene from Cruel Intentions *always* makes me laugh)

I mean, we all sit around, our best friends our personal shrinks. (even if our best friend goes by the name of beer) and all them quasi-pop quizes women's magazines wave around. This month's Cosmo is a clincher : "How Bicurious are you?"

I somehow find myself seriously questioning the validity of relying on a quiz in Cosmo to tell me where my sexual orientation lies. It may reinforce it, or rather, reinforce what I know about myself, but it most certainly isn't telling me anything NEW and if it said something different I'd just say the quiz "was crap". But somehow, we lap it up as if this will give us some deep insight to our inner psyche we know nothing about.

Anyway, in one of my characteristic leaps of logic, I started thinking about middle child syndrome. I know heaps of people with middle child syndrome.

But when does a problem child suffer from middle child syndrome? When he/she is a middle child of course- supposedly caused by the order of birth.

But then as an eldest child, I've had discussions (read: bitch sessions) with other eldest children on how it sucks to be us. Especially if you come from an ultra-conservative family like mine that has stubborn streaks a mile wide...that you inherited as well.

Why hasn't there been eldest child syndrome documented? All these things tell you how appallingly overachieving eldest children are, how eager they are to please, how responsible, how conservative. How youngest children are the spoilt bunch, used to using their charm to get their way, competing with the eldest by being charming rather than achieving in material means. But has anyone done an in depth study into what the impact is?

I'm sure someone has, but why is it that when an eldest child cracks it it's seen as "problem child" but when the same thing happens to a middle child it's "middle child syndrome"?

There's a whole load of books more to read I guess.

In the meantime:

Remains of the Day
7 types of ambiguity
Good Food Guide
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
God of Small Things
The Satanic Verses
Angela's Ashes
Oscar and Lucinda

there's probably more but that's enough for now. :)

Listening to: Missy Higgins- The River


Anonymous said...

I'm sure somewhere out there there must have been some eldest child who looked into this.. Given the typecast, as you mentioned, stubborness and driven-ness..


Anonymous said...

I used to lament about being the eldest child as well. But it's major perk is that I, being the eldest, set the 'standards'. Because there's certainly going to be (sometimes unconscious) pressure on the younger siblings if they do any worse, even if the parents don't compare them outright.

sway said...

oh I don't have a problem with it at all. I just find it interesting that the "middle child syndrome" can apply to any child at all really.

KnightofPentacles said...

I like your Maslow's Theory of Neurosis. I think psychiatry also calls it overcompensation or something.

Hmm.. middle child syndrome. You had me googling for that one. Psychologists seem to have names and labels for every possible dysfunction.

I am living refutation of all that social science that attempts to prove that the eldest child is ambitious and driven.

Anonymous said...

theres a book on the birth order of children out.. eldest, middle and so on...
hmmm.. i cant remember the name exatly but 60 mins (the US version) did a story on it.. you should go check that out once i actually figure out the name and tell you about it.. hehe.. but yeah.. the counter argument was good.. one person likened birth order theory to throwing a dice or something like that...

and god of small things is a bloody brilliant book.. seriously bloody good.. initially didnt see what the fuss was all about but after you read it, you realise...

and read 'tis. the sequel to angelas ashes.. good too.. :)

and someone needs to do a study on fraternal twins! haha.. im the elder and "wilder" one.. does that count as being the eldest? prob not.. see.. someone needs to do a study on ppl like me! hahaah :)

clint said...

middle child syndrome? what the hell's that!? i'm a middle child. i haven't got any syndromes. there's _nothing_ wrong with me. sheesh. some people.

the best three science fiction novels of all time are:

1. dune
2. dune
3. dune

sway said...

oh kavi. you're so cute!

I believe there have been heaps of studies about twins. I'm not sure about fraternal, but I'm sure you'd know more than me. que?

Anonymous said...

haha. cute? no la. pretend onli..

and yah.. no one seems to care about us freaky twins who look different.. whahahaha...

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Dune gets two mentions. My favourite quote: "Fear is the mind-killer." Or something like that.