Hypergraphia — The Name and Condition Behind the Britton Blog


A Thing Is Only a Thing When It Has Earned Its Name

By Jeff Britton

The term “hypergraphia” is usually confined to describing a single individual’s obsession with the process of writing, the written word or repetitive symbols. Given the mass of original copy currently posted every day on the Web, it’s not just a condition of the individual. It’s a global symptom of our collective mind.

Nobody takes the time to write. Why bother? Well, hypergraphics bother.

Clinical hypergraphia is not so much an enviable condition. It is not really garden-variety obsessiveness. It is usually associated with more-serious conditions, including Asperger’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, depressive conditions, schizophrenia and epilepsy. On the upside, genius often seems guarded by dysfunction.

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ’Til It’s Gone

So hurray for the newest class of psychotropic drugs! Maybe Vincent van Gogh could have kept both of his ears, but there is a line we shouldn’t cross. As Joni Mitchell wrote in her classic tune “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees, please!”

Early Worries

The brand-new topic of Internet addiction was a favorite topic in the early years of the Web. I haven’t seen that much of late — all of those researchers are deep into their research and haven’t surfaced lately. They probably waved off their concern since there is so much to read out there. No biggie after all.

A Case of Hypergraphia

In fact, after we got over the shock that some dude we knew was posting as a girl, we all fell into our own preferred archetypes and began to narrate the stories of our choice — to create the worlds we wanted to live in. I write “worlds” because few of us have found just one reality that produces perpetual satisfaction.

Right Brain, Left Brain

The biggest fork in the road leads to the polarization present on all posts Webwide: The haters hate and the explainers explain. The villain is always the most colorful. Watch any movie. Except Batman.

A Case of Hypergraphia

Nobody takes the time to write. “I have no comment.” Right in the middle? Why bother? Well, hypergraphics bother. Help me mend the collective schism. From now on I will post comments like, “You both have solid points of view.” Or “You’ve covered the entire spectrum of opinion. Because of that, I have nothing to say.” Will you join me in my quest?

The Wonders of Online Disinhibition

It’s easy to fall into the yawning chasm of endless Internet space. We stand on the edge, and that crazy voice inside yells jump and we tumble over in a variety of creative styles. Here are a few.

A sum of all the parts or the parts of the sum? — The sense of online invisibility can easily allow us to disassociate into our smaller-component selves. We see a post that upsets us. And we surprise ourselves with what comes out of us. Something flushes us out of the brambly hedge like rabbits. “Do I really believe that?” Most of us get most of our beliefs like we catch colds — we just pick them up. But when the soul sneezes, as it often does online, it’s a chance to examine and perhaps repot our responses into new metaphorical soil. Like I just did. Bam!

Our other choice? As Churchill once quipped, “Every once in a while we trip over the truth, but we can usually pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and hurry on as if nothing ever happened.” We dash off some manic nonsense and hit “post.” Dust in the wind.

Incongruence, contradiction and asynchronism — Without the inhibition of physical social pressures, our impulses untangle like elastic bands. The last thought cuts up front, and competing and contradictory topics run in circles like prisoners suddenly let loose in an open field — all directions are equal. Which way do I go?

A repressed and furtive thought takes a big chance and darts from this side to the other. It’s the briefest chance to capture an event that could not be understood at age 6 — but now it’s slowed, examined, and there is an application of new light to an old mystery. A new definition and a new title are placed on the crayoned folder and slid back into that muttering cabinet of curiosities we call memory. Surprise! A recurring nightmare stops.

The unexamined self — Since I am sitting here by myself with my own thoughts, they are all that matter. So here is my point of view: “Since I am write here in the center of this universe I have created, it has its own logic. I am all; you are stupid. Oh, and by the way?! Any reference to the authority of any other authority figure incites my ire. They are straw men, easily toppled.” So says the unexamined I.

But oh! The joy of self-discovery that can come to us with all these words! I almost want to yank off my ear!

Hypergraphic thinking is like John Muir’s comment about nature: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Everything is connected to everything else. So look up the Johari Window here then here. Explore the Unknown Country website. It’s where the wild things are! Tame them by staring into their yellow eyes!

We don’t mean to say that we are affected by hypergraphia. We mean to say that we have an immense desire to write and create. It’s this desire that fuels the content you’re currently reading. It’s this desire that fuels the creative for our clients.



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Photos: Wikimedia and BMDG

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