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“Neurotic” Quotations by
Mignon McLaughlin (1913–1983),
Terri Guillemets, and Others


Welcome to my page of quotations about, by, and for neurotics. And of course I use the term loosely. Many of these are from Mignon McLaughlin's brilliant Neurotic's Notebook and The Second Neurotic's Notebook, plus I've added some of my own as well as those from other writers. I first discovered McLaughlin's insightful aphorisms in early 2002 when I came across her Notebooks in a used bookstore. And by the way, good news for those of you looking for those hard-to-find copies from the '60s! — June 2014 brings the publication of Aperçus: The Aphorisms of Mignon McLaughlin which also has extensive biographical information and photos too. At the bottom of this page are a couple of tribute quotes to McLaughlin as well. Enjoy, fellow neurotics!  —tεᖇᖇ¡·g


Everything great in the world is done by neurotics; they alone founded our religions and created our masterpieces. ~Marcel Proust


As we are human, we can't do what we can't do; as we're neurotic, we can't do what we can. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


The neurotic circles ceaselessly above a fogged-in airport. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


The neurotic feels as though trapped in a gas-filled room where at any moment someone, probably himself, will strike a match. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The neurotic runs ragged even sitting still. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


Neurosis is no worse than a bad cold; you ache all over, and it's made you a mess, but you won't die from it. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


You can't escape history, or the needs and neuroses you've picked up like layers and layers of tartar on your teeth.... Your every past action and thought have made you what you are. ~Charles R. Johnson, Faith and the Good Thing, 1974 (Arnold T. Tippis)


At the beginning of a love affair, not even the neurotic is neurotic. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The neurotic's mountain and molehill are equivalent in size. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The neurotic doesn't know how to cope with his emotional bills; some he keeps paying over and over, others he never pays at all. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Others settle for small rewards; the neurotic must always go for broke. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Overcast with drizzles — O! we neurotics welcome the riddance of that pesky sunshine. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The neurotic longs to touch bottom, so at least he won't have that to worry about anymore. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Neurotic: someone who can go from the bottom to the top, and back again, without ever once touching the middle. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Neurotics, when they hit bottom, don't stop falling. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


I'm afraid to win, and afraid to lose; I hate a draw and can't stop competing; otherwise I'm fine. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Don't offer a neurotic happiness — he'll never take it. There's a bout of misery keeping him perfectly content. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The neurotic is always half-drowning in anxiety, and always being half-rescued. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


No matter how much the neurotic accomplished yesterday — even if he finished — he must start anew today. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


Neurotics always feel as though they were going way up or way down, which is odd in people going sideways. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering. ~Carl Jung (1875–1961)


The neurotic calls in sick to more than just work — he's sprung ill to Life, as well. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The aim of psychoanalysis is to relieve people of their neurotic unhappiness so that they can be normally unhappy. ~Sigmund Freud, attributed


A doctor recently described to me "benign positional vertigo": it means you get dizzy in certain positions, but you can get over it without necessarily changing the position. Change "vertigo" to "anxiety," and you've summed up the neurotic's plight. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


If a neurotic can't stand the heat, he complains about it until they kick him out of the kitchen. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The neurotic's strongest fantasy is that he has no fantasies. The real is very real to him, the unreal even more so. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


The neurotic has perfect vision in one eye, but he cannot remember which. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


A constant din of alarms sound in the neurotic's head — only silence indicates something gone wrong. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


Naturally, the neurotic wants you to love him twice as much, for he's going to cut it in half anyway. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Neurotics are always looking for something new to overdo. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Neurotics think of the past with resentment, and the future with dread; the present just doesn't exist. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The neurotic usually obeys his own Golden Rule: Hate thy neighbor as thyself. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


No good neurotic finds it difficult to be both opinionated and indecisive. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


With neurotics, it's always "some assembly required." ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


Neurotics expect you to remember all the things that they tell you, and many that they don't. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


I am a neurotic — in the sense that I live in my world. I will not adjust myself to the world. I am adjusted to myself. ~Attributed to Anaïs Nin


The way the neurotic sees it: bars on his door mean that he's locked in; bars on your door mean that he's locked out. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Actually, psychiatrists classify a person as neurotic if he suffers from his problems in living, and as psychotic if he makes others suffer. ~Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin, 1973


The neurotic thinks himself both Hamlet and Claudius, in a world that belongs to Polonius. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Of all second-class citizens, neurotics are the only ones who are so by choice. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The neurotic believes that life has meaning, but that his life hasn't. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Neurotics are sure that no one understands them, and they wouldn't have it any other way. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The neurotic always wishes people would let him alone — until they do. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


In this case, the neurotic resembles a human being who looks up to God, commends himself to His ways, and then religiously awaits how the Lord will guide him; he is nailed to the cross of his fiction. ~Alfred Adler


Neurotics are anxiety prone, accident prone, and often just prone. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


It is said to be the manner of hypochondriacs to change often their physician... ~William Cullen (1710–1790), First Lines of the Practice of Physic


It is astonishing how much more anxious people are to lengthen life than to improve it; and as misers often lose large sums of money in attempting to make more, so do hypochondriacs squander large sums of time in search of nostrums by which they vainly hope they may get more time to squander. ~Charles Caleb Colton (1780–1832), Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words; Addressed to Those Who Think, Vol. II


A hypochondriac is one who has a pill for everything except what ails him. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The neurotic listens to weather reports about Small Craft Warnings, and he thinks: They're talking about me. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The overweight neurotic turned thin has mental weight she'll never lose. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


Neurotics would like to sleep all the time, and to be awakened only when there is good news. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


That is the whole difference: for the poet is in command of his fantasy, while it is exactly the mark of the neurotic that he is possessed by his fantasy. ~Lionel Trilling (1905–1975), "Freud and Literature," in Horizon: A Review of Literature and Art, 1947


A neurotic whose problems are solved was never a neurotic to begin with. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


A considerable number of persons are able to protect themselves against the outbreak of serious neurotic phenomena only through intense work. ~Karl Abraham, in The Psychoanalytic Reader: An Anthology of Essential Papers with Critical Introductions edited by Robert Fliess, 1948


[Neurotics] complain of their illness, but they make the most of it, and when it comes to taking it away from them they will defend it like a lioness her young; there is no use in reproaching them with their contradictions. ~Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)


Being neurotic is like shooting fish in a barrel, and missing them. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Neurotics make poor patriots; if you're ashamed of something as big as yourself, it's hard to be proud of something as small as your country. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


Most neurotics have been mindful of their five W's since grammar school: why, why, why, why, why. The other answers never change, so don't bother to ask. "Who" is me, "what" is a problem, "when" is the past if regret and the future if worry, and "where" is inside our heads. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The neurotic lies awake at night, composing letters to those he hates. He seldom thinks of dropping a line to those he loves. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


If something smells fishy, the neurotic knows everything is going just right. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


A neurotic is a man who builds a castle in the air. A psychotic is the man who lives in it. A psychiatrist is the man who collects the rent. ~Author unknown, an old joke of varied wordings dating back to at least the early 1950s


But the center can be a harmful place for one who has lived so long on the edge.... Normality is the Great Neurosis of civilization. ~Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, 1976


I like neurotic people. I like troubled people. Not that I don't like squared-away people, but I prefer neurotic people. I like to hear rumblings beneath the surface. ~Stephen Sondheim


The "sensibility" claimed by neurotic people is matched by their egotism; they cannot abide the flaunting by others of the sufferings to which they pay an ever increasing attention in themselves. ~Marcel Proust (1871–1922), Remembrance of Things Past, translated from French by Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff


Neurotics dream of a good life, or a great suicide note. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


There are three iron links in the neurotic's chain: unloving, unlovable, unloved. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


If a neurotic can't stand the heat, he lights another candle. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


The neurotic keeps minute track of his enemies; it is only his friends he is careless about. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966


The anguish of the neurotic individual is the same as that of the saint. The neurotic, the saint are engaged in the same battle. Their blood flows from similar wounds. But the first one gasps and the other one gives. ~Georges Bataille


A neurotic's problems are invisible to others — and to himself, as well. ~Terri Guillemets, 2002


A mistake which is commonly made about neurotics is to suppose that they are interesting. It is not interesting to be always unhappy, engrossed with oneself, malignant and ungrateful, and never quite in touch with reality. ~Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave


And when you get an eminent journal like Time magazine complaining, as it often has, that to the young writers of today life seems short on rewards and that what they write is a product of their own neuroses, in its silly way the magazine is merely stating the status quo and obvious truth. The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads. ~William Clark Styron, Jr, interview published in Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley, 1958


Quotations about Mignon McLaughlin


To me, the depth of McLaughlin's perceptions on life are like Erma Bombeck's observations on steroids! What a mind McLaughlin possessed, in that she was able to describe both complex and layered human issues with a clarity of expression that almost sings the truth into the listener's memory. ~pilgrimwb, 2010 November 8th comment on the Neglected Books page for The Complete Neurotic's Notebook by Mignon McLaughlin, neglectedbooks.com/?p=734


Some aphorists are morose and meditative, but Mignon, by all accounts, was bubbly and gregarious, with a lightning wit and infectious laugh. ~Josh Michaels, Introduction to Aperçus: The Aphorisms of Mignon McLaughlin, 2014



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