The Eeyore Syndrome

A New York City Fire Department Emergency Medical Technician wheels a patient into an emergency arrival area at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, N.Y., April 6, 2020. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
Standards for pessimists, standards for optimists

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I n A. A. Milne’s classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen.

Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist (“if you think it’s bad now, just wait”) always enjoys advantages over both the realist (“so what, life goes on”) and the optimist (“oh, come on, it can’t be that bad”).

When the pessimist frequently errs in his gloomy prognostications, he can plead that they were intended to be didactic, if not therapeutic. Only by offering

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