… Similarly, the habits of mind induced by popular mass culture have promoted so much boredom, such deep feelings of powerlessness, that we would do well if we could exchange our excessive material acquisitiveness for the eccentrics’ inner inquisitiveness.
Their forthright enthusiasms and wildly diverse interests give them the energy to feel young without being narcissistic. Their feverish activity works for them. They play what is in essence a game of brainstorming for one. By expressing their creativity for a long time and in many ways, they have overcome any feelings of rejection, unfairness, and anger they may have harbored earlier. Their spontaneous solutions to their problems dissipate the bases of neuroses in a way that gives fulfillment to them, and amuses those lucky enough to witness their joie de vivre [joy of living]…
This research has shown that certain types of deviant behavior can be healthy and life-enhancing. The condition of eccentrics is freedom: not for them the stifling habit of obedience. In an era when human beings seem more and more to be the prisoners of their culture and their genes, eccentrics are a refreshing reminder of every person’s intrinsic uniqueness. By flouting norms of behavior that most of us never question, eccentrics remind us how much of our own liberty we needlessly forfeit, and how great is our ability to forge our own identities and shape our own lives, if only we will use it.
Neuropsychologist David Weeks and journalist Jamie James in the 1995 book Eccentrics, which covered the findings of a decade-long study of eccentricity by Weeks. The book is out of print, but used copies can still be found.