People who are constantly late may be suffering from a form of insanity, a science writer has claimed. Those who are chronically tardy to engagements struggle with how they view time and may have a ‘bizarre compulsion to defeat themselves’ by making plans that they know they cannot keep, according Tim Urban. And he has even created an acronym to describe those people he believes are suffering from the lateness compulsion: Clips, or chronically late insane people.
Being annoyed by a chronically late friend is a common grumble, but one scientist has claimed that those who are never on times for engagements could actually be suffering from a form of insanity.
The science writer claims there are three reasons why Clips are late so often: some are in denial about how time works, some ‘have an aversion to changing circumstances’ and some individuals are ‘mad’ at themselves.
While most psychologists agree there is no cure for lateness, it is possible to change*. Richard E Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan said: ‘If chronic lateness is an illness then so is chronic tendency to interrupt, chronic tendency to run red lights and chronic failure to shine your shoes, any if not most of my kind, being late is a manifestation of disorganisation or hostility that is fully within one’s ability to control.’
It is thought that mental pathways that create chronic latesness originates in the same part of the brain that is affected by those who suffer with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In fact, many ADHD sufferers complain they struggle to keep time.
Some psychologists believe that chronic lateness could be a symptom of an underlying mood disorder such as depression. A recent study of more than 200 people at San Francisco State University showed that 17 per cent were chronically late.
Some psychologists believe that chronic lateness could be a symptom of an underlying mood disorder such as depression
Those unable to be punctual displayed similar patterns in behaviour including anxiety issues, and trouble with self-control. Researchers said the problem — whether it affects a person personally or professionally — is not irreversible, however. Psychologists recommend those affected to work to make deadlines non-negotiable, monitor how long it takes to perform certain tasks and always plan to be early.
But some psychologists are sceptical about the claims that chronic lateness is a medical condition. The condition isn’t in the DSM5 (the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) so I’m not sure you can really call it a condition,’ said Dr Sheri Jacobson, psychotherapist and director of Harley Therapy Clinic in London in 2013. ‘Repeated lateness is usually a symptom of an underlying condition such as ADHD or depression but it can also just be habit. ‘I think making everyday human behaviour into a medical condition is unwise.’
- Of course it is possible to change, it is called self discipline and being late shows a lack of respect for those you are meeting with.