A recent visitor around here was Herr Prof. Doktor Hermann Ersatz-Grundwissen of Vienna, Austria, whose grandfather studied with the great Carl Jung and whose father was an author of the Varieties of Human Frailty.
Doctor Ersatz-Grundwissen (to use the English variant of his title) is an expert in human behavior and addictions.
"Addictions occupy us throughout the world these days," he said in German which I rapidly translated to myself as he spoke. Although Ersatz-Grundwissen is conversant in seven languages, English is not one of them.
Ersatz-Grundwissen refuted the idea that addiction itself is a disease. "This is a base canard," he said, using the German word Falschmeldung although he could have easily used the word Hoax, "for an addiction only comes about as a result of doing something, while a disease, by definition, is primal and its origin may be obscure."
This agent could see that he was in for an afternoon of intense education and his German, sort of rusty after some years of only incidental use, would be getting a thorough workout.
Addictions to various drugs including alcohol are au courant (to throw in a French phrase and give la belle France equal time) these days, the learned doctor pointed out.
But there are other behavioral addictions, he said. There is the Munchausen syndrome, or the "I was there first" syndrome, and the "It was stolen from me" condition which comes up every time a new song or scientific breakthrough is made.
Also of some peculiarity Ersatz-Grundwissen said is the "job seeking" syndrome.
This manifests itself, the doctor said, with an individual who continues to hunt for a job when he or she already is well placed, by common ordinary standards, in a position.
As I understood his explanation, the condition is akin to the perennial student who accumulates degree after degree of varying magnitudes in various disciplines of study.
Thus, one occasionally sees the individual who is both a physician and a lawyer. Or the seeker of knowledge who obtains a bachelor, master's and doctorate in one field of study and then duplicates the effort in another field.
"These people desire to be constantly in the grove of academe," Doctor Ersatz-Grundwissen said, "and have no particular desire to put into any real practice what they have learned."
The constant job seeker will, for example, the doctor said, secure a position in one location and within days is off hunting for another job.
Sometimes, the doctor said, the condition is so severe that the job seeker type will have secured a job but before actually going to work is already seeking another job.
"Es ist sehr unbekannt," Ersatz-Grundwissen said, and I agreed, it is very strange indeed.
He said he know of one case where an individual was seeking a job elsewhere while professing satisfaction and love for his present position. Later, this individual, according to Ersatz-Grundwissen, obtained a new job, but before actually taking office in the new position was already interviewing for another job.
The only explanation the doctor could advance was that the individual may have suffered from some deep-seated lack of confidence or perhaps believed he was not worthy of any job he had gotten and wanted to move on before his inadequacies were discovered by the present employer.
Or, the doctor speculated, the individual just might enjoy meeting new people and get some kind of emotional satisfaction from sitting through interviews.
Then again, Ersatz-Grundwissen advanced the idea that job seeking becomes an occupation unto itself and as long as the individual can keep it up, he or she avoids doing what he or she might think is real work. "They don't like to be tied down to a regular job," the doctor said.
By now we had strolled along until after the sun had set and headed into an eatery where the good and learned doctor managed to get down four dozen oysters, two large bottles of claret and polished it all off with a wonderous, but illegal, cigar from Cuba.
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