Linearititis = a psychological disease that involves being stuck in linear thinking and the inability to think recursively.


  • Breaks into a sweat when faced with complex situations, uncertainty, and unpredictable situations;
  • Desperately tries to make everything orderly and predictable;
  • Bursts of anger when life doesn’t follow a predictable path;
  • Underlying fear that life is unpredictable and uncertain.

Causes are multiple in origin, including:

  • the influence of the super-paradigms of positivism, mechanism, and reductionism;
  • linearity of media programming;
  • linearity of news media;
  • linearity in all of schooling;
  • linearity in familial relationships and discourse;
  • linearity of imposed interactions with economy and business;
  • linearity of medical treatment, diagnosis, and research;
  • linearity in just about all contexts.

Effects are multiple:

  • Inability to handle complex situations;
  • Inability to think and work recursively;
  • Extreme difficulty handling uncertainty;
  • Intense desire to solidify and simplify thinking and actions;
  • Intense desire to block out contradictory information;
  • Intense desire to create linear representations and models of complex, nonlinear phenomena.

Other information:

  • Highly contagious;
  • Most likely sectors or contexts to suffer from this disease:
    • Scientific community
    • Medical community
    • Financial sector
    • Corporate sector
    • Education community
    • Psychoanalytic community
    • Political sector
    • Most members of the Complexity Sciences community (ironically!)
    • The media (news and programming)
  • Least likely sectors or contexts to suffer from this disease:
    • Artistic community
    • Poetry community
    • Performing Arts community
    • The more creative and revolutionary science parts of the Scientific community
    • Small portion of the Psychotherapeutic community

About Jeff Bloom

I'm a Researcher with and am on the Advisory Board of the International Bateson Institute and am a professor emeritus with the Department of Teaching & Learning, College of Education, Northern Arizona University.
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