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What Qualifies as an Eccentric?

Updated on February 4, 2012

The Definition

The term eccentric has been around for quite some time, a few hundred years even. Though we have heard of eccentrics, psychology studies observing eccentrics did not exist until 1984. In 30 years, we have learned to understand eccentries more than history ever showed us. Signs of eccentrics consist as:

  • Nonconforming
  • Creative
  • Happily obsessed with hobbies (typically more than two)
  • Opinionated and outspoken
  • Intelligent
  • Aware from childhood that they are different
  • Idealistic
  • Noncompetitive (they only compete with themselves)
  • Unusual eating and living habits
  • Not entirely interested in the opinions or company of other people
  • A mischievous sense of humor
  • A bad speller
  • Usually the eldest or an only child
  • Normally single

Eccentrics In History

By observing texts and documents, we are able to point out certain people in history who were eccentrics. Since I am an American, I will point out a few American eccentrics.

  • Benjamin Franklin - An intelligent man, he invented many ideas, including the basis of 3-D glasses. However, in one of his experiments he took off all of his clothes. Suprisingly enough, he liked the feeling so much, he became a part-time nudist.
  • John Chapman (1774-1845) - Also known as Johnny Appleseed, John focused his life on traveling across the country and planting seeds for apple trees. It is said he planted millions of trees over 100,000 square miles. His description was "wiry, with long, dark hair and a scanty beard that was never shaved and keen black eyes that sparkled with a peculiar brightness". He wore old coffee sacks with holes cut out for his limbs and went bafefoot except in the extreme cold. Those who met him, liked him. Even the Indians helped him when they could. They believed a great spirit guided him.
  • Davy Crockett - Though little is written about the man, it can be decided that he was an eccentric by the way people described him.

However, there is one non-American eccentric I must tell.

  • George Selwyn of Gloucestershire (1719-91) Unlike the harmless eccentrics above, he had a strange adoration for crime, death and execution. A bright gentleman, he was kicked out of Oxford for a "blasphemous travesty" in his rooms. A lady friend of his once called him a "barbarian" for going to see a criminal being beheaded. He told her that he went to see another beheading the next week. During his time, his obsession with death was known to all. One of his friends as he lay on his death been said, "The next time Mr. Selwyn calls, show him up. If I am alive I shall be delighted to see him, and if I am dead he will be glad to see me."

Where Are They Now?

Eccentrics are quite rare. There is 1 eccentric in every 10,000 people. However, it is quite easy to spot them out. They might have a typical job though. They tend to live in the middle class though there are a few self-made millionaires that are eccentrics as well. They could be police officers, judges, chiropractor, unemployed poets, a cave-dwelling hermit, a puppeteer, a housewife, factory worker, computer scientist, professors, artists, writers, even a chairman of a large industrial firm.

An eccentric begins showing their special qualities at the age of 16 until their death. They are slightly better educated than the rest of the population. Their curiosity gets the best of them and they never stop searching for answers. They are typically artists and inventors. Always wanting results and answers.


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    • ddaquila profile image

      Deborah Anjella Daquila 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Some of my closest have described me as being eccentric, and this article has summed up why. I find myself trying to create some sort of normalcy in my life every once in a while, but I always end up finding my way home. Great hub. Kudos to the author.

    • profile image

      Sooner28 6 years ago

      I love eccentrics. They are great!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg OSC 6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I have all but 3 of those characteristics, I'd say I qualify! Most people who meet me consider me a misanthrope, and I might be, but I really just prefer my own company to that of other people (except my husband, but he has the majority of these characteristics as well). Great hub, Voted up and awesome.

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 6 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      Yep, I think I qualify! lol Truth seeker all the way, but I've met quite a few myself, so I'm not sure the statistics are right.


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