I watched a video of Linus Torvalds a while back where he talked about how he thinks the reason software is so appealing to him is the absolute deterministic behavior that comes with it, and ever since then I can't stop thinking about it.
I've really come to realize that the one and only thing that ties together every single one of my fears is non-deterministic behavior.
Every instance of health anxiety is me desperately trying to write some unit tests and piece together a deterministic system where there isn't one. Every day spent thinking about every action and sentence that I had to do and say to place myself in my exact situation -- job, lifestyle, location -- is me wishing I could Dockerize my existence.
It's confusing for me to acknowledge this, because novelty -- foreign, requires new processing, or perhaps requires a new instruction manual -- is the only thing in the world that I care about. But that's more like "novelty, within the context of clear feedback loops and deterministic systems". When John Frusciante says that music is the only thing in the world he cares about, I'm more inclined to believe him.
I'm certain that a lot of psychologists would peg it as a divorce-child thing, and maybe for many it's a troubled childhood that causes it, but I can vividly remember feeling this aversion from as young as 3 years old.
I really believe that all behavioral extremes are systematic.
Artists, scientists, and scholars all seem to successfully deviate from what would seem to be the most personally beneficial social behavior, and yet they seem to have existed throughout all of documented history.
I think it's fair to consider most developers'/engineers' behaviors idiosyncratic, neurotic, and at times obsessive.
Mental disorders are incredibly interesting to me, because I think that they represent extremes in such a tangible way. It's like Bauhaus, or De Stijl, but for human behavior. Honest, concise, exaggerated. I feel like psychological disorders are like a petri dish for understanding these darwinian extremes in behavior, one which may allow us to understand on a developmental basis what causes these behaviors in less extreme cases.
Neue Haas Grotesk, specimen from fontbureau.org
Something of recent interest is the intense-world theory of autism. In essence, it asserts that autism is primarily characterized by enhanced learning/memory, enhanced fear response (perhaps as result), enhanced focus (leading to fanatical hobbies), enhanced emotionality (leading to suppression), and in high functioning cases, enhanced intelligence.
I think that we're very much heading down the wrong rabbit hole when we consider mental disorders their own black-boxes rather than especially defective extremes.
Is it possible that high intelligence is perhaps just a very evolutionarily convenient defect? The strong overlap of intelligence with ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder is of interest. Who is to say that intelligence isn't simply a more controlled and focused expression of that behavior?
I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the same type of hyperconnectivity proposed for the autistic mind also exists in ADHD-afflicted individuals and the highly intelligent, and that this hyperconnectivity is specifically what draws these people to highly abstract, highly deterministic, and highly rewarding environments. Similarly, the brilliance of a great artist comes with a strong incidence of cluster-B personality disorders.
I also don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the same type of thinking that allows the intelligent to construct and act upon a mental map of disparate data is what leads a certain type of person to overthinking and brooding over the uncertain: health, people, whether driving over that pothole initiated a 2-month, time-delayed self-destruct sequence for my suspension, etc.
Most people do best with convergent thinking -- such is to say, having specific instructions and procedures for how to do something. Divergent thinking is essentially what we are talking about when you are assessing someone on lateral thinking -- IQ -- the ability to reason in intangibles, and find connections in sparse information, or create abstractions like art and music. Jung calls it "intuition", Big 5 calls it "openness".
Whatever you call this tendency towards the abstract, it amounts to a historical inability to reason with the default behaviors and dynamics that humans implicitly establish, and represents 20% of the population in varying degrees. There's actually research backing the notion that there is a maximum disparity in IQ where it becomes improbable/impossible for a leader/follower dynamic to exist between two individuals.
Then why, Darwin?
"Intuition" and "openness" tends to be associated with varying degrees of social dysfunction. The intuitive mind is characterized by a preoccupation with the unconscious and its products, at times eclipsing reality, for better and worse. In the case of intuitive thinkers, I think it presents a particularly interesting (and often brain damaging) tug of war between the intangible and the apollonian.
I'm strongly of the belief that human behavior is no less darwinian than anything else. I struggle to believe that the neurobiology that cultivates scientists, artists, scholars, and strategists hasn't been around for thousands of years.
Wouldn't it make pure evolutionary sense for divergent thinkers to sidestep social dynamics and externalities? Is there any predator that succeeds without exaggerating its one killer-feature in the most efficient ways possible?
For the only species to have truly leveraged tools, technology, and art, it's reasonable to assume that one key way of exaggerating its killer-feature is by neurologically encouraging the divergent thinkers to tolerate forgoing the most evolutionary advantageous feature for its species: group behavior.
This doesn't mean reclusiveness, but instead an increased tolerance for non-conformity. The type of thinking that breeds artists, scientists, and scholars all shares the common thread of divergence.
Or maybe this is all bullshit, don't take my word for it :^)