Psychiatrists don’t have a diagnosis for this in the DSM of Mental Disorders, but somebody ought to be studying why so many of us take so long to get to the point. Even in a sentence. We seem incapable of just saying it. We have to fool around first, holding off our reader. “Paranoid Personality Disorder” made it into the DSM to label those who are suspicious, grudge-bearing, combative, and preoccupied with unsubstantiated “conspiratorial” explanations. Yet “Paranoid Personality Disorder” affects only one percent of our population; the new disorder affects about ninety-five times that many.
I propose we call it “Around About Disorder,” because we get around to our point about three to ten words into the sentence. It afflicts both genders and cuts across all socio-economic classes, from secretaries to CEOs. Borrowing from the DSM, here are the six criteria; to be diagnosed with Around About Disorder, we have to meet only one:
We cannot keep from stating the obvious:
I am writing to let you know that your advertising staff is not proofing the content of your advertisements.
We harbor unwarranted feelings of self-importance and superiority:
But I can assure you that as a company, we will remain very, very involved in the dialogue on both Capitol Hill and in Parliament.
We can’t say it, only that we want to say it:
I want to thank each of you for all you’re doing to help us meet our goals and remain a leader in our businesses.
We try to disguise hostile feelings with officious phrases:
This letter serves as official confirmation that AmEx does not recognize the coverage you claim.
We hesitate to express a thought for fear that someone will turn it against us:
I find that I like this program as a first pass copy editor.
The neighbor’s dog insists we are Jay Leno, and who are we to argue:
That said, techniques of organization can go a long way toward enhancing the effect.
Am I the only one who has noticed that the word “that” lurks in five of these six examples? Is this some sort of conspiracy? Is the NSA now tapping into my thoughts before I even send an email? I don’t know, but until I figure this out, I’m not leaving the compound.