Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Have a Personality Disorder

"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Sigmund Freud, the Father of Psychoanalysis

Damn straight.

As I was swotting on Sunday night at the 24-hours McDonald's for Monday's Psychiatry paper, I got a bit of a jolt from the notes. In the section about personality disorders, there was a description of one that read like 20 seconds summary of my personal psyche. Damn, I have actually heard friends of mine describe me this way to other people about me using the exactly same words!

"Hey, this one really sounds like me," I said to some of my friends, who was there with me that night. I remember when I started out doing that - studying in McD's - I was pretty much alone. Now it had become the in-thing to do, apparently.

Lai Yin, who was also there at the time said, "Yeah, I thought of you too when I first read that! I memorise the personality disorders using our some of our batchmates as examples for each. That was yours."

Okay, if the smartest girl in class uses me as a mnemonic device for it, I thought, that pretty much clinches it, right?

I think I have Schizoid Personality Disorder.

According to the ICD-10 (id est, the 10th edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems manual), I have to fulfill 3 of the following criteria in order to qualify for a diagnosis,
  • Emotional coldness, detachment or reduced affection (I pretty much embody this when it comes to family members).
  • Limited capacity to express either positive or negative emotions towards others.
  • Consistent preference for solitary activities (I love reading and spending ALL my waking hours on the internet - with very little use of any social or networking tools - and prefer to eat and watch movies at the theatre alone).
  • Very few, if any, close friends or relationships, and a lack of desire for such (I have a girlfriend, one genuinely close friend aaand... shit, that's it).
  • Indifference to either praise or criticism.
  • Taking pleasure in few, if any, activities.
  • Indifference to social norms and conventions (So much so that I go out of my way to defy them repeatedly - I've been called a contrarian because of that).
  • Preoccupation with fantasy and introspection (Too easy... Next!).
  • Lack of desire for sexual experiences with another person (Alright, before anyone says anything, I like sex, alright... I just don't like it as much as, um, some other things).
I bag six out of the above nine. Six! With a slightly more liberal interpretation, I can make that seven.

Now, according to the DSM-IV (the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which I feel to be the more authoritative text on such matters, I need to fulfill 4 out of 7 similar-sounding criteria which are worded slightly differently from those in the ICD-10. I score a five, and I think I fit them better than I did with the ICD-10 ones. To avoid the personality quiz fallacy, I took pains to research the specific meanings behind those criteria. So yeah; I wasn't cheating or anything.

Other scoring systems I've managed to dug up on the disorder also include stuff like avoidance of competitive relationships, over-sensitivity, eccentricity, tendency to daydream, introversion, in possession of a sense of superiority (in spades, according to Phoebe), and self-sufficiency (a Christian actually accused me once of being so deluded by my self-sufficiency that I am unable to surrender to God). I got all of 'em.

It's official: I'm schizoid. And I'm okay with it.

Coincidentally, I also read that a diagnosed schizoid will not give a fuck if other people see him or her as having a mental disorder. Funny.

Anyway, according to Disorders of the Self by James F. Masterton and Ralph Klein, I'm more correctly classified as a "secret schizoid" - which does not mean I'm hiding it from anyone, no. It just says that I may appear social or engaged superficially, but in actuality, remain aloof and emotionally distant. Influential and famous dead psychoanalyst Ronald Fairbairn (1889-1964) said that the schizoid individual is able to express quite a lot of feeling and to make what appear to be impressive social contacts but in reality giving nothing and losing nothing, because since he is only playing a part. This cuts eerily close to something one of my ex-girlfriends said about me once.

Also, for a long time now, I kept saying "I think I work best in a long distance relationship," over and over again without knowing why, and have thought at length about how odd that is. Philip Manfield, in his book Split Self/Split Object, affirms that in my case. He said that people who have schizoid personality disorder are happiest when they are in a relationship in which the partner places few emotional or intimate demands on them, as it is not people as such that they want to avoid, but both negative and positive emotions, emotional intimacy, and self disclosure.

Most importantly, this helps to explain why my previous relationship was such a catastrophic train-wreck. You'd be hard-pressed to find an uglier breakup than that.

Then regarding the schizoid profile on sexuality... let's just say that it hits very close to home. Some of my... "proclivities" have been troubling me a bloody lot. And no, I don't I want to reveal what they are on a publicly accessible online journal, thank you very much. Don't bother trying to read about it because there are more than one sexual spectrum ascribed to the schizoid personality, and I only fit one of them (though I fit it very, very much). Unless I've confided into you about this before, there's no way you can possibly guess which one it is.

Anyway, I've got to wrap this up now even though I would very much like to continue oh-my-goshing over several more of my revelations regarding my personality. Maybe some other time, eh. I have to go get Phoebe from KL tomorrow (YES, SHE'S BACK!) and bring her down to Malacca for a 3-day-stay. The entire year through, everywhere I go, I have been mentally scouting out potential dating loci I want to bring Phoebe to in my town - it's like, I could be sitting in a cafe or walking down a nice street and suddenly think, "I wish Phoebs can be here." Three days aren't a lot, I know, but it's all we have to spend together this entire 6 months. I'm going to make each second count.

Good night, people-with-regular-personalities.

k0k s3n w4i

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kritik Booth Movie Reviews Round Up

Remember that old post I put up in March asking your opinion if I should archive my short film reviews? Well, I haven't forgotten it. Now, after almost half a year, I am finally doing something about it. Wheee! Rejoice! Jubilate!

I also remember saying something about making it a regular monthly thing, but you can't seriously expect that degree of discipline from me. I'll update it whenever I feel like it, and that's that.

Anyway, I've just reviewed 5 films I watched this months - look at the sidebar, people. Thoughts and comments, if any, can be excreted here in this post. That's how it's going to work from now on; I write new reviews, stick them on the side, and move the old ones into a post where you can talk about the new ones if you so wish.


Knowing poster


Question: What Christian propaganda machine made this film? I disagree with the premise of the script, yes, but that has never stopped me from enjoying a movie before. What ruined Knowing for me is the fact that because I know the Bible, I could guess how the entire movie would pan out and end. That little talk between Nicolas Cage's character, Koestler, and his son about belief wasn't exactly subtle. And that astrophysics lecture Koestler gave about determinism versus randomness was pretty obvious too. And I already know that this is an end-of-the-world type of movie. So, the only thing left for me to enjoy in this movie is the action sequences; which were pretty darn good, I'll admit. When Koestler ran through the wreckage of the plane crash in the rain while the victims were burning alive, I could almost feel his horror at the disaster. When a subway train flew off its tracks, killing and crushing and maiming its passengers and everyone who stood in its path, I felt a vague sick feeling in my stomach. This is how massive loss of lives should be handled in movies. The eerie elements of this film were done very well too, particularly those silent, watching, whispering trench-coat mystery men (up until they drew a close up on one). The final scene? I burst out laughing. I sincerely hope that there's a Serpent in that tree they were running to. And the biggest surprise I got from the film's finale is that the Christian Propaganda machine which made this film is apparently run by His Unholiness, the Dark Lord Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic League - and not by the Pentecostal Evangelicals as I initially assumed.

Score: 6/10

Persepolis poster


This is a beautiful coming of age story of a girl living in Iran when the conservative Muslim faction took over the country, and her childhood through the war between Iran and Iraq - then following her tale as she attended high school in Vienna, her subsequent college years back in Iran and her marriage, and finally, her move to France where she now lives. It was based on the autobiographical French graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, who also directed this film. This is also a beautiful coming of age story of all girls everywhere; whether you are Iranian, American or Malaysian. I have heard platitudes like "we are all humans", "we are all brothers and sisters", "we are all alike under our skins" etc. uttered to me many time, but I only just realised that I have never truly grasped the meaning of those phrases until I saw Persepolis. The reason why it's so easy to hate another group of people in this world is simply because we have reduced them down to concepts, because they are less than humans to us. When a pilot drop bombs onto an Afghan city, he's dropping bombs on a nation of terrorists, of fanatic killers and fundamentalist crazies - not humans. What that pilot does not know is that there are little girls like Marjane Satrapi down there who wears Nike sneakers, idolises Bruce Lee, rocks out to Iron Maiden and loves her grandmother dearly. I believe this is what we can learn from Persepolis. I believe this is what we must learn.

Score: 10/10

Slumdog Millionaire poster

Slumdog Millionaire

Overrated. And no, this review isn't at all coloured by my contention that The Dark Knight should have won the Oscar for Best Picture (never mind that it wasn't even nominated and no, I'm not sore about it either why you ask?). This movie has a great plot, I'd give it that, and a kick ass soundtrack - but what I like best about it is the portrayal of the Mumbai slums (I have been there in person) and the Dickensian lives the slum's children led. In my 2 1/2 years in India, I have lost count of just how many child beggars which have tugged at my shirt, calling me "Baya" and asking for a rupee. Young Jamal reminded me of each and every one of them. And the enterprising ways by which Jamal and his brother scraped a living across the Indian subcontinent were scarily plausible. I have seen these kids too. The core of this film is a love story but the most memorable parts of it celebrates life. But I still don't think it deserved the Oscar.

Score: 8.5/10

The Tale of Despereaux poster

The Tale of Despereaux

The story is mundane and the animation is dreadful - and I'm not buying that "it's for kids so of course you didn't enjoy it" crap because if I'm a kid, I'd be having nightmares for months to come. The studio which animated this evidently have never heard of the Uncanny Valley (you should Google it if you haven't either). They should have re-imagined the story as a horror flick because there's a fat, ugly, servant-girl character that gives out creepy vibes like a snail gives out slime. Disney managed to make ugly characters like the Beast (of Beauty and the Beast) and Quasimodo (from The Hunchback of Notre Dame) sympathetic and likeable. Not this flick. The way the servant girl talks and acts just makes me think that I'm looking at an extremely demented psycho-killer suffering from delusions of grandeur. And Despereaux? I hardly notice him.

Score: 1/10

Marley and Me poster

Marley and Me

This has to be the saddest movie I watched this year. I was informed that there is going to be a tearjerker ending - and I even guessed (accurately, as it turned out) its nature. I went in knowing exactly what to expect and yet, I still cried the moment the climactic scene came. This is a movie about a family and its dog. I am very aware of how thoroughly my emotions have been exploited, but that did nothing to lessen the the movie's impact on me. If you like dogs, you should watch this. Marley, the so-called World's Worst Dog, has to be seen to be believed. Oh, and the humans starring alongside him in this dramedy aren't half bad either. The lines were witty and the story of a family being built from the bottom up is engaging and more importantly, very relatable. Also, as a bonus, Jennifer Aniston is actually good in this.

Score: 10/10

Poster District 9

District 9

This is one of the best science fiction films I have ever seen. This film is the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp (NOT Peter Jackson, you fuckwads) and the special and visual effects were handled by WETA, which also did the Lord of the Ring films. Despite of having a budget of only 30 mils, District 9 has the look of a waaay more expensive film. The story follows Wikus van der Merwe, a bumbling bureaucrat, who was given the responsibility of relocating 1.8 million illegal immigrants from the titular District 9 in Johannesberg to a newer, less slummy District 10, further away from the local inhabitants who despise and distrust these strange new foreigners. Also, these illegal immigrants are space aliens that look like prawns - just thought I should mention it. In recent times, people seem to have forgotten that science fiction as a genre is much more than just stories staged in a futuristic or spacey setting. The point of sci-fi is to ask what if… District 9 asks; What if real actual extraterrestrials stranded on our planet are treated like - pardon the pun - illegal aliens? This film, - aside from being a good vehicle for raising a lot of excellent thoughts on ethics, humanity and racism - works equally well as a first class action thriller. Wikus van der Merwe, flawed as he is, is pure character gold. And in spite of having a face which is technically incapable of human emotions, Christopher Johnson, one of the slum dwellers of District 9, is a very easy character to sympathise with. I only have one major problem with the plot and writing; that canister of alien juice is too much of an all-purpose plot item. How can it do that… and THAT? By the way, I really like the documentary framing device this film used, and I applaud its seamless transitions into and out of it whenever the story requires it to. Watch it, people. It’s a monument of a film. People are going to look back on 2009 and remember this as one of greatest films of the year.

Score: 10/10

Poster Ponyo


I’ve been a Miyazaki Hayao fanboy ever since I saw Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away for the rest of you) and I’ve watched almost every film he made since. Gake no Ue no Ponyo is his latest and it tells the story of a mermaidy-goldfishy sort of creature named Ponyo who escaped from her father, who was married to the sea (like literally). Ponyo then met a human boy named Sosuke and… well, if I said anymore, there wouldn’t be any point in you watching the movie anymore. The plot is pretty thin. Of the entire Miyazaki canon, this has got to be his most childish yet – though I meant it in a totally good way. Still, the highlight of Ponyo isn’t the story. Nope. It’s Ponyo herself, which is possibly the cutest, er, thing I have ever seen in a movie. I’m also amazed by how lush and exuberant the hand drawn traditionally animated undersea scenes were, but the best bits were when the whole world was… oh nevermind. Don’t wanna spoil it for you. My biggest complain about Ponyo is that the awesomest and most triumphant parts happened in the middle of the movie, rather than at the end. A five year old girl running on a tsunami after a car? Pure awesome.

Score: 9/10

Poster Zack and Miri

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

It’s directed by Kevin Smith, so you know it’s definitely going to be juvenile and full of tits. I’m not a fan of his brand of films, but I decided to pick this up ‘cos my favourite porn star, Katie Morgan, is starring in it. I like her voice and thinks that she’s funny. Many of my friends think that I’m completely missing the point of pornos. Anyway, the story is this; Zack and Miri are besties, went to the same high school and now, as adults, they live together so they could share the rent. Then, their power and water got cut off because they couldn’t afford to pay the bills. You can pretty much guess the rest from here on. And yes, this movie is pretty damn funny, but if you have delicate sensibilities, I advise you to stay away. This movie’s not healthy for your blood pressure. Justin Long’s almost-cameo as gay porn star, Brandon St Randy, was the best thing in this film (gawd, that voice slays me). I couldn’t stop replaying his scenes over and over again. There's pretty good chemistry between Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks too, which is more than what I can say about most romantic comedy couples these days.

Score: 8/10

Poster Overheard

Overheard (竊聽風雲)

This movie was fucking awesome before it decided midway to say fuck you to the plot and crash right into pure stupidity. The premise is this; buncha cops bugged some rich guy’s office because he was suspected to be involved in some illegal stock market practices with some other rich guys (insider trading or some financial gobbledygook I don’t understand). Then, some of the cops tapping into said rich guy’s communications found out about a massive share price rise of some company – which they did not report to their superior but instead, chose to cash in on that info. Things spiraled WILDLY out of control, which made for really ace thriller material… but then, the director started throwing in a million ridiculous plot twists, all of which made no damn sense at all. And one of the sideplots were needlessly overdramatic (Oh no, my kid’s got hemophilia! On no, now I got liver cancer! Oh crap, now my entire family was killed in car crash! And I lost an eye and two limbs!). It’s like the plot twists; the director thought the more he throws in, the better his movie is. And Lau Ching Wan’s character’s sideplot was entirely POINTLESS. Hey, Guy Who Cuts the Film; Do your fucking job, please?

Score: 5/10

Poster Adventureland


This is a weird movie. If a rom-com sleeps with an indie raunchy teen movie about some nerd trying to lose his virginity, Adventureland would be their baby. The story follows James Brennan, your standard-issue Hollywood luckless boy, who took up a summer job in a local amusement park – and falls in love with a girl there (played by the very delicious Kristen Stewart, who you might remember from that terrible shit, Twilight). I like this movie mostly, but I’ll most likely forget it in a month.

Score: 6/10

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Why Did the Eel Cross the Road?

"Oh, we're sinking like stones,
All that we fought for,
All those places we've gone,
All of us are done for."

Don't Panic (2000) by Coldplay

First order of business; my apologies for being AFK for so damn long, but this isn't the first time really.The majority of my time was spent on research work for my in-progress fantasy novel and if you're familiar with the genre, you'd know that world-building requires a tonne of research in order to make a whole alternate universe sound and look plausible. As of now, I have about half of the first chapter finished - but I'll need to run it through a couple of editors before I'm ready to show it to anyone else (I am a bit grammatically impaired, you see - Phoebe, or anyone who reads my blog can attest to that).

Another thing that caught my attention in the previous week was this manga called Kodomo no Jikan by Kaworu Watashiya. I am reasonably sure about doing a review on it soon, because it is by far one of the best mangas I've ever read. In the meantime, try not to poke into my psyche too much if you actually know what that manga is about.

Before I get into today's post, I just want to say this about the new GI Joe movie: ICE DOES NOT SINK IN WATER, YOU FAIL PHYSICS FOREVER. That is all. Oh yeah, if you ever want to have the seats around you in a cineplex to be vacant, just pretend to cough really badly for about a minute. I did that before the flick started and the guys to my left and right immediately moved away. That's one good thing to have come out of the current H1N1 epidemic; everyone's all panicky and shit. And it seems like everyone's donning some sort of mask these days (and the recent haze attack makes it even more pertinent to do so). Anyone know where I can get a black one? I want it to match my very emo wardrobe.

Welcome to the living room of my house.

Two weeks ago on Monday, part of my house was submerged underwater, which has never happened before in all the 22 years I've lived in it. What's even more amazing was that it took only one hour for it to get from roadside puddles to indoor pond. I got home at 12:00 pm and when my grandfather woke me up at 1:00 pm from my afternoon siesta, the shoreline have migrated into my living room. Talk about flash floods.

The worst that ever happened was back when I was 7 years old, and even then, the water stayed outside. I remember having to use a two chairs to get to my school bus without getting my shoes wet - y'know, stand on one, move the free chair forward, then hop onto that and repeat.

Suburban swampland, previously known as my grandmother's garden.

This is my neighborhood. That speck is a neighbor.

Now they can play water polo in the field.

Of course, the rainstorm wasn't any harder than the ones we had before so it's really quite bewildering why it would flood this time. One popular theory that has been making its rounds about the area was that a nearby construction project was to be blamed for filling in a mini stretch of marshland behind the field.


A sinkhole in the making where I usually park my car.

The DAP guy (notice the rocket in his cap?) who came around telling everyone that this is all the government's fault.

While I was wading about the place, I spotted a snake-like animal writhing across the road. I'm reasonably competent when it came to basic zoology so identifying one of my favourite food wasn't at all a problem. It's an unagi! Alright, it wasn't exactly the species of eel the Japanese use for the dish, but it's the generic term for freshwater eel anyway.

El Eel
"My homeland has expanded! Now we shall take over the world and make women shriek in fear at the sight of us!"

It rained pretty damn heavily last Wednesday too and my area got flooded again, except this time, the water managed to stop rising at my doorstep. An inch more and it would have been Waterworld all over again. I wish the city council would do something about it soon; deepen the monsoon drains or fix the construction site or something.

Right, that's that. A short update of my life. The next post won't take as long, I hope. I've been wanting to blog about Beve's visit to Malacca 3 weeks ago. Anyone who's curious about how she looks like, stick around and see for yourself :P.

Must learn how to build arks,
k0k s3n w4i