In the immense constellation of fiction there are two types who produce a state oscillating between wonder and terror. They are: ‘the arrogant person’ and ‘the optimist at all costs.’

In the first case, the arrogant person is an individual who plays at being indispensable. His attitude is persistent as it manages, momentarily at least, to sell his image — but if he is analysed more carefully it is observed that his reasoning has lost all perspective. He must be very confused in order not to realise three things: the first, that his manifest attitude of security is, in fact, inferiority; the second, that there are many doors that are closed to him; and the third, that the human being in the face of the universe is a tiny particle destined to die — and for this simple reason one has no other right than to be humble and condescending.

According to Chinese philosophy, condescension is one of the greatest virtues that man can possess and consists of external availability and internal firmness; in the arrogant, the opposite happens: there is exterior hardness and interior weakness.

The more studious the man, the more he tends to consider that he knows little, precisely because he realises that he has much to learn. On the contrary, the pedant believes that he knows a lot, boasts of knowing and often has a disqualifying attitude. Needless to say, in this society, the arrogant are in their element as much is made of appearances, verbiage, a thick moustache, a consummate scientific bearing.

- The studious individuals I have encountered in this medium don’t tend to ‘come out of their corner’ — every time they want to do something new they come up with a thousand ifs and buts and obstacles — so the work is done by others. Not only do they do nothing, they also hinder the initiative of the few who want to do something. But how can this type of individual not be cornered and relegated, if, deep down, study and work are rejected socially?

- To give an example: children are not instilled with a love of reading, of music. On the contrary, they are more like automatons, watching beauty contests, political party advertisements and horse races. They grow up thinking that the flesh, the complacent smile, the servile and flattering attitude — or chance — will solve the problems of their lives.

In the second case, the extreme optimists are the individuals who manage to come out of depression — but are trapped by dint of American recipes for happiness. Self-help books abound with titles such as: “Don’t Say Yes When You Want To Say No” or conversely “Don’t Say No When You Mean Yes,” “What Do You Say After Saying Hello,” “How To Be Rich In Twenty Days,” “How To Stop Being Frigid In a Week,” “How To Get Rid Of a Manipulative Husband In Four & a Half Days,” “I Am Fine, You Are Fine,” “I Am Wrong, You Are Fine,” “I Am Wrong, You Are Worse,” “ How To Cure Profound Oligophrenia In Four Nights.”

The impression these books make on me is that they are written by chancers, preying on insecure and suggestible individuals. In one of those books I remember reading, in its prologue, that the author had once been a millionaire and then months later, he had been on the street and then, in months he had become a millionaire again — thanks to his positive mind.

Politicians should read these books to see if — with magic — you can get out of the lie in which you live.

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com