A Self-Diagnosis

Grace Bachmann - Senegal


April 23, 2013

Dindefelo lacks a certified M.D., let alone any sort of therapist or psychiatrist. Thus, I take it upon myself to access my own mental health condition.

Diagnosis: Frantic Socialite Syndrome

Frantic Socialite Syndrome is a type of anxiety disorder derrived from assimilating a social and cultural code but lacking the ability to default to said code.  Individuals affected by FSS see the correlation between happiness and positive interpersonal relationships. They push themselves into uncomfortable social situations in order to develop interpersonal skills in a new environment. They crave social interaction.  A social code is as complicated as a the world wide web to FSS individuals and they strive to break it down methodically.  FSS surfaces when they have deciphered the code and adopt the mannerisms of those native to the culture.  But because it is not their native code, FSS individuals make mistakes and miss social cues.  The greatest triumph FSS inflicts is harsh self-criticism- the individual disappoints herself when she is unable to fully adapt the code although she has a very nuanced understanding of the culture.  FSS causes varying levels of anxiety associated with fear of community backlash. The community, after a duration of five months, expects the FSS individual to act according to its definitions of common courtesy and respect owed to friends, famiy members and community figures.  The FSS individual inevitablely misreads the code or becomes exhausted by her efforts. In doing so, she occassionally confuses or offends those with whom she expected to seemlessly interact.   Strategies to combat FSS include: greeting every person that one passes;  always looking for someone with whom to share a commodity, from a bowl of rice porridge to a bicycle to cell phone credit; making rounds throughout the village frequently to greet extended family and neighbors, especially after a voyage elsewhere; thinking before committing to a social engagement, so as not to make a false promise; maintaining a work ethic visible to the community; wearing only clean clothes outside of one’s compound; discerning when an invitation is compulsary or genuine.  FSS is chronic as long as the individual remains in the foreign environment. The only known treatment for Frantic Socialite Sydrome is to extend exposure to the code beyond six months.

Grace Bachmann