Dr. David Weeks is an interesting and articulate individual who is smart and funny with considerable media experience. Our exploration of eccentricity is informed by the general findings of Dr. Weeks’ fascinating study and book, “Eccentrics—A Study of Sanity and Strangeness”.
“[My] research has shown that certain types of deviant behavior can be healthy and life-enhancing. The condition of eccentrics is freedom: not for them the stifling habit of obedience. In an era when human beings seem more and more to be prisoners of their culture and their genes, eccentrics are a refreshing reminder of every person’s uniqueness.”
- Dr. David Weeks
Dr. Weeks’ study of 1000 Eccentrics and the evaluation metrics he created to determine who indeed is eccentric, underpins our filmic journey into bold but different lives. He has shown us the difference between normal and eccentric behavior, how gender effects eccentricity and where eccentricity sits between genius and madness.
So why should we celebrate eccentricity? Personal freedom is the answer to that question.
Here rests the central thrust of the film: conforming to society’s norm has its personal costs just as breaking away from those norms has costs as well. The characters in the film searched inward to discover who they really were and what kind of life they wanted to live – an existential journey many of us embark on but few complete.
But what can the rest of us learn from eccentrics? Dr. Weeks says his eccentric friendships have taught him a lot and ten years of working with eccentrics has rubbed off on him in many ways.
“I am exhilarated in their company,” he says, “by their ideas and their creativity…I am far more outgoing, self-confident and rebellious than I once was.”
Dr. Weeks’ study concluded that eccentrics are:
- Healthier and happier than the rest of us
- They see a doctor far less often
- Live longer than the rest of us
- And eccentrics such as Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, William Blake, Glenn Gould and Dr. Patch Adams have made major contributions to mankind.
”Do eccentrics share any of the core characteristics of the genuinely mentally disturbed?” Even though eccentricity is not a form of mental illness, eccentrics have no special immunity from diseases of the mind…Yet, we found by administering standard diagnostic tests that eccentrics actually have a higher general level of mental health than the population at large. Original thinking, it seems, may be better for you than dull conformity.”
- Dr. David Weeks.
Dr. Week’s study also revealed that eccentrics visit a doctor on average just once every eight years while the average English person visits a doctor two times a year.
Dr. David Weeks was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After high school, he joined the U. S. Navy, in which he served for eight years, primarily in the Submarine Service. Dr. Weeks graduated with honours from Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland. He then went on to study Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Edinburgh, receiving an M. Phil. in the former and a PhD in the latter. Dr. Weeks also received an honorary research fellowship from the University.
Dr. Weeks has worked in several general and specialist hospitals, as well as in a large urban general practice. Subsequently, he became a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. While there he undertook research in the treatment of compulsive gambling, the use of psycholinguistics in the diagnosis of dementia, and loneliness in the elderly. For the latter work, he was awarded by the Carr-Gomm charity, becoming their first keynote speaker at a conference attended by HRH The Duchess of York and the charity’s founder, Richard Carr-Gomm.
Dr. Weeks has written a book on his pioneering research into human eccentricity, Eccentrics, published in 1995, and another book about people who look and feel significantly younger than their chronological age, Secrets of the Superyoung, published in 1998. He also works in private practice and has published a literary mystery thriller, The Very Eye of Night. A ten-year study of in Great Britain and the United States gives us reason to believe we should celebrate and appreciate the eccentrics among us.
To read Dr. Weeks’ blog see The Dr. Is In