The Anatomy Of Cynical Attitudes And 9 Constructive Remedies For Them

By Mona N 

Often people confuse “skeptic” with “cynic. ” The word “skeptic” derives from the Greek “skeptikos”, which means, “inquiring” or “to look around. ” The skeptic seeks evidence before accepting facts.

The term “cynic”originally derives from the ancient Greek philosophers, the Cynics, who rejected all conventions, whether of religion, manners, housing, dress, or decency; instead advocating the pursuit of virtue conforming to a simple and idealistic way of life.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines cynicism as “. . . a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions. . . “. So lets not confuse cynicism with skepticism; for the purpose of comprehension we will center our discussion over cynicism.

A Typical Cynic’s Traits

Normally people in society are ambitious, want more, they pursue goals, and look forward to growth and progress perpetually. They also mean to do good for each other in life. However a cynic perceives this as vain, unobtainable, or ultimately meaningless, and therefore derides others’ outlook. This attitude is often defended by the cynic as a mature wisdom, and other times, realistic criticism.

Yet this attitude is just a dubious camouflage for mistrust and suspicion. Moreover they are in stern denial of their tendency to instinctively suspect every motive of people around them.


What Experts Say

Lisa Firestone, Ph. D. , a clinical psychologist, and the Director of Research and Education for the Glendon Association (Santa Barbara, United States) says, “when we get cynical, we are often indulging in self-righteous attitudes and forming expectations that people should behave a certain way. For example, my friend had thoughts like, “I never would have made him wait; he is so inconsiderate,” or “I guess he really doesn’t care if we get pictures of us with his family. I care more than he does about us all being together.” Through this shadowy perspective, we start to seek out and focus on the worst in people.”

Cynicism is essentially an attitude displaying a general mistrust of others’ motives. A cynic typically believes that people are apathetic and only interested in fulfilling selfish motives. Their conviction, at some subconscious level, is that society at large is only competitive, and unfriendly. At a subtle level cynic lacks of faith or hope in the human species.

Shocking Evidence From Research On Cynicism

Recent research led by Anna-Maija Tolppanen at the University of Eastern Finland has disclosed a startling finding. The study, conducted over a sample population of 1,500 people over an eight-year period, adjusted for other clinical factors. It provides an alarming insight for those of us who regularly question the motives of people constantly. There is clinching evidence that cynical, grumpy people are three times more likely to develop dementia than those who have a more positive outlook.

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