Although most people are normal, or “average out” to as normal, my sense is that some have one or more native born weaknesses. Sometimes, a person, on becoming aware of a weakness in himself, will put extra effort into overcoming that weakness, through trial, attention, hard work and formal training.

Such people usually succeed in overcoming the perceived weakness and may even become so-called experts in that field. However, the weakness is still there, in spite of their acquired “expert status,” and it shows itself when they aren’t looking. It is this self-correcting effort that I call the Attraction of the Perverse.

And so, I have seen chemists, who have trouble mixing fluids and chemicals, often have stains on their necktie, or shirt fronts, physicists sometimes strike the door frame when walking through from one room to another, mathematicians often have trouble balancing their checkbooks, psychologists and psychiatrists often behave strangely, English teachers have trouble understanding what you said, foreign language teachers often have trouble expressing themselves.

And I have never met an economist or university trained financial expert who was wealthy or smart enough to not have to bother teaching students. That is, if they are so smart with money what are they doing teaching (where teaching is a job whose only reward seems to be the chance to have simpler people admire and look up to you in a comfortable and civilized setting)? This is what I call the Attraction of the Perverse.

From another point of view, I have noticed that two-thirds of the graduate students in law school are there for the wrong reason. Fully one-third are there because their parents want them to be lawyers. One-third are there to make a lot of money as lawyers. Only one-third are there because they are interested in questions of right and wrong, justice, crime, morality, human worth and the governing of our fellow man.

The same, I guess, would be true of those graduate students one would find in medical school: one-third for the parents, one-third for the money, and one-third to help advance the boundaries of modern medicine, and be a healer and helper to human beings wherever they may need healing and advice for a healthy life.

Actually, according to an old friend of mine, who is a retired college teacher it’s the same for the college undergraduates. That is, one-third are there for the parents, one-third for the money, and one-third because everybody thinks the students are entitled to be there, and so, they just go along with it, too. My old friend says that’s why he took early retirement from teaching college undergraduates. Their attitude seemed to be, I’m here because I am entitled to be here, and you’re here because we pay you. So go ahead, teach me something if you think you can.

Perhaps we shouldn’t tell our young that they’re entitled to anything at all and they’ll have to earn whatever they get. It might work better that way.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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