Are You a Whimsical Nut?

I might be writing. I might as well be smoking.

When you know you have to complete a job that would hardly take five minutes, all you tend to do is keep checking the Facebook updates, while you worry about the emails?   

Whims and fancies
A little while ago, I was unpacking my winter stuffs. Suddenly it occurred to me that I should see what impulsive behavior is all about, on the literature available on the internet.

How do the teachers and their tribes define it on textbooks? So, I’m here on my desk, back again after ignoring the initial desire to put something on YouTube, now unconcerned with the couple of half-opened bags and winter clothes lying all around the room. This and the one half-finished cigarette on the ashtray and the other one on the cupboard are evidently showing a glaring characteristic that I am made of.

On hindsight, I know impulsive behaviour affects my daily life and that it is the cause of habits like smoking.

Now I consider it is a negative behavior but tomorrow it will be unsurprising, if I see it as just my nature that needs a little bit of control, that needs just a bit of tweaking now and then, that it will cause no harm. Are there others perspectives that would be more valuable while I am on it now? Otherwise, it might get lost again in the wind of whims. So, enough is enough, it is time for a little research. I might stop midway if some other thing crops up. Precautionary steps noted.

Alarm bell
It is alarming to see that impulsive behaviour is a symptom of borderline personality disorder (BPD), a serious psychological problem. Nevertheless, all BPDs have indications of impulsivity, but not every impulsive nature is a problem of BPD. Impulsive actions typically are ‘poorly conceived, prematurely expressed, unduly risky, or inappropriate to the situation that often results in undesirable consequences*’, which imperil long-term goals and strategies for success.

Image from Anonymous ART of Revolution

From a formal textbook approach, we can see two common habits that are closely related to impulsive behaviour: overeating and substance abuse. There are a lot of examples we can see around, as in reckless driving and unsafe sex and so on. These are just relatively normal things and there are worse kinds too. Someone who is very impulsive, in any case, is prone to these kinds of habits. Facebook and Twitter, with their great potential for causing GAFO (great attention deficit order!), are making the matter worse.

Cultural fancies
In another case, impulsivity is a cultural trait of my folks in our hometown**. For example, in confrontation, we are so impulsive as much as aggressive because that is how we survive in a conflict zone, torn apart by insurgency and social unrest. An outsider would react so differently that are beyond our comprehension. (Nevertheless, it is always awful how the mainland Indians fight: they would bend their wrists, stretch their arms and start slapping each other. Hard.) Of course, all these are a stereotypical view, yet true it is to a great extent.

We live in a region of all-round decay and chaos. However, it is only in exceptional cases that we rise up to face and sail pass the sociopolitical mess. It is as if the whole society lives on whims and fancies. No wonder we are so reactive as we can see it from our periodic bouts of depression.

The birth and growth of whims
Psychologists trace this habit, rather the weakness, to our origin — when early men during those days of hunter-gathering stage used to live in caves — the basic reaction was impulsivity, for they have no idea what and where they would be if they don’t act ASAP, faster than how we click a Like or Tweet button. In our world today, there is no room for such primitive mentality, except in some emergency conditions or situations. Usually it tends to create terrible habits if we keep clinging onto it.

Even if it is not as serious as BPD, impulsivity is a psychobehavioural problem. Whatever it is; the experts make it sound convincing to save ourselves from the impulsive bust, which makes us whimsical.
Image from

The silver lining lies everywhere. I consider, from personal experience, the birth of an idea is quite impulsive. Unconsciousness plays a role and it would need psychologese to elaborate it, which I admit I lack terribly. Yet when we carry a notebook and a pen around, we tend to collect more ideas, which crop up in fits of our whims. It appears so close to our impulsive nature. This whole premise is built on a presumption and I would be more than glad if you can prove me wrong.

So is there any advantage of being impulsive? There ought to be, because our universe is so relative and every object and entity have their black and white parts, and they are never entirely black or white.

To be or not to be, that is not the question
The more impulsive we are, the more complicated our lives become. So the answer is to stop being carried away by whims and fancies, all the place all the time. A strong will power is one of the solutions. Then it is closely related to our emotions, how we tend to break loose. 

(Written in the last week of Dec 2012)

* (A) Daruna, J.H. Barnes, P. A. (1993). A neurodevelopmental view of impulsivity. In W.G. Mccown, J. L. Johnson, M. B. Shure (eds). The impulsive client: theory, research and treatment. Washington, DC: APA; and (b) madden g.j. & johnson, p.s. (2010). A delay discounting primer. In G. J. Madden and W. K. Bickel (eds). Impulsivity: the behavioral and neurological science of discounting (pp. 11-37). Washington, DC: APA.

** Manipur, a former southeast Asian kingdom, is a state in India. Usually identified by conflict, insurgency, armed movements and economic backwardness, it is a paradise for crooks, swindlers and revolutionaries. It has an annual spell of social disaster. The social landscape, throughout the year, is punctuated with cases of murder, vandalism, state terrorism, the futility of government, militants’ absolutism, armed movements, the propaganda of democracy, extortion business, institutionalisation of corruption and killing, self-determination claims and what not.

: an antonym of reactive; (of a policy, person or action) controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it after it happens.

Useful Link

A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume on Project Guttenberg



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