The Normals Vs. the Neurotics
by Liz Colville
It’s hard to believe, but sex is good for you! Whether you’re normal or crazy, it remains good for you. A study of ‘neurotic’ couples, defined as two normal people driven crazy by each other’s nagging presence, suggests that these troubled souls can be as happy as ‘normal’ couples, as long as they continue to love each other in the bedroom. (Clarification: that does not mean going, “Love you,” and turning out the light.)
It turns out that the term ‘neurotic’ is actually a solid, reliable medical term, and not a vague set of symptoms we pass off as PMS or UIFC (unresolved issues from childhood). It sounds so old school: so blankety, so safe, and so reminiscent of the word ‘hysterical,’ which rarely seems to make it into scientific studies anymore. But ‘neurotic’ does. Before we proceed any further, here’s the Oxford American definition of the word:
suffering from, caused by, or relating to neurosis.
• abnormally sensitive, obsessive, or tense and anxious : everyone was neurotic about burglars | a neurotic obsession with neat handwriting.
So an obsession with neat handwriting on its own isn’t neurotic! Whew.
In the study, the control group of ‘normals’ didn’t seem to change depending on how much sex they had, because of course they’re dead inside. “Sometimes happy couples had lots of sex, and sometimes they had very little,” LiveScience reports, which would suggest that dividing people into ‘normal’ and ‘neurotic’ is probably a little optimistic especially given what a cornucopia of issues the DSM-IV offers us. Also, who’s defining the study subjects as ‘neurotic’? Probably each other.
In any case, the results of the study were very different for the neurotics, who became less neurotic the more sex they had. “Spouses with high levels of neuroticism were happier in their marriages if they had more sex, the study found. In fact, frequent sex was enough to wipe away the ‘happiness deficit’ that neurotic people start out with.”
So it’s safe to say neuroticism could all be in the hormones, which I would say allows me to continue making the study of PMS my life’s work, my true passion, my calling.