Durkheim on neuropathy and the inability to settle into a stable life

There’s a fascinating connection between this account on Suicide pg 46-47 and what Bourdieu describes as hysteresis and Archer as contextual incongruity:

Because of the extreme sensitivity of his nervous system, his ideas and feelings are always in a situation of unstable balance. Because the faintest impressions have an abnormal effect on him, his mental organization is constantly in a state of upheaval and, as a result of these continual shocks, it cannot settle into a definite form. It is constantly in process of becoming. For it to be able to consolidate itself, past experiences would have to produce lasting effects, while in fact these are continually destroyed and swept away by sudden new ones that take their place. However, life in a settled and constant environment is only possible if the functions of the living being have an equally constant and settled character, since living means responding to external stimuli in an appropriate manner and this harmonious correspondence can only be established with the help of time and habit. It is the result of trial and error, sometimes repeated over generations, the results of which have partly become hereditary and which cannot be started afresh each time that an action has to be performed. If, on the contrary, everything has to be done again, so to speak, at the moment of acting, it is impossible for it to be all that it should. Such stability is not only necessary for us in our relations with the physical environment, but also with the social environment. In a society with a defined organization, an individual can only maintain his position by having an equally defined moral and mental constitution; and this is precisely what the neuropath lacks. The state of upheaval in which he finds himself means that circumstances are constantly catching him unawares. Since he is not prepared to respond to them, he is forced to invent new, eccentric types of behaviour; hence his well-attested liking for novelty. But when it is a matter of adapting to traditional situations, improvised solutions cannot prevail against those sanctioned by experience, so most of the time they fail. So it is that the more rigid the social system, the more difficult it becomes for such an unstable person to live in it.

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