In saying, “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players….”, William Shakespeare did not merely allude to the utility, or futility, of the seven ages of man but also to human capacity for drama. The seven continents, seven wonders of the world – Taj Mahal being a monumental embodiment of expression “woeful ballad made to his mistress’ eyebrow”, would have as easily fit the bill. Old Billy though, in his great wisdom, employed the theatre-life analogy.
Right from the moment an obedient alarm clock sings itself hoarse, only to be cursed at and snoozed, to the instant when sleep renders active imagination languid, the dialogues human beings deliver and the actions they perform are worthy of an Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. Be it getting a B on an assignment, getting passed over for promotion or getting turned down by the love of one’s life, the amount of sorrow displayed harkens back to the time of the Great Flood. Joy is expressed as magnificently on passing an exam, advancing in career or getting lawfully wedded. These events are almost an eventuality in one’s life rather than a catastrophe or a windfall, respectively, and therefore such extreme reactions are merely theatrics.
Those engaged in the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in a given context, collectively referred to as psychologists, have taken this basic human tendency for drama and, as is wont of all scientists, come up with a fancy name to describe it: “cognitive distortions”. They even offer to remedy this “affliction” with therapy and / or pills in exchange of cash. Some of the cognitive distortions they have described are:
- Polarized thinking – a human is either a woman or chauvinist.
- Overgeneralization – if a person with a beard is a terrorist, then all the bearded persons are terrorists.
- Jumping to conclusion – if you voted for *cough**cough**cough* party, you are a right-wing extremist.
- Catastrophising – the world is coming to an end now…ok now…ok the next second…
- Heaven’s reward fallacy – if thou sacrificest thine own interest for a greater good, thou shalt be rewarded sometime in the future (aka Karma or Judgement Day)
Honestly, if all these were signs of mental impairment, the world leaders would have been in mental asylums rather than in parliaments. Oscar Wilde has a say on this: “I don’t like scenes except on the stage”. Those words sum up the ideal conduct of one’s life better than any holy or how-to book.
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