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Being Normal

March 11, 2013

I am not a writer for those of you who are wondering, but various assessments (i.e. Strengths Finder) seem to think that writing is something I should do… So I am going to make a go of it by blogging my thoughts, ideas, and evaluations of whatever comes to mind.

Recently, I was sitting on the bus to work listening to a TEDtalk about mental health. Or more precisely the unquiet mind where the tension between insanity and sanity spark creativity and greatness in some people is found. See here to listen to the episode.

Jon Ronson was interviewed about one of his Tedtalks about his investigation into psychopathy and made a comment about the the current size of the DSM.  To paraphrase Ronson, there is a push to be normal in America which essentially gives rise to a larger percentage of people being diagnosed with a mental illness.  It makes you wonder.

Now if I were a conspiracy kind of a guy, it would be fun to believe that the pharmaceutical companies are behind all of the new cases of mental illness and our push to make “normal” fit a very narrow definition. Maybe restarting the economy is just a few quick sessions with your therapist.  Who needs a jump in the housing market when all you need to do is get a prescription from your shrink?

To be clear I do think mental illness is serious and real in many people. And that drugs and therapy can do a world of good for many of those people.  But I am skeptical of this movement towards normalcy.  There is significant value in being unlike everyone else.  And not in a disconnected loner sort way either.  And frankly striving to be like everyone else is selling yourself short.

Where did we go wrong? Why do we feel like we need to be like everyone else? And who is this “everyone else?”  If Plato is right there is an ideal Everyone Else that we are all striving to be.  Thank god Plato was wrong. There is no ideal “normal” form to strive for.  It is our “unlike” everyone else that builds stronger relationships, friendships, families, and communities.  Isn’t that what everyone really wants? Strong trustworthy relationships where there is actual safety. Not the false security of normalcy.

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One Comment
  1. Tseganesh permalink

    Nice. I struggle with that as a parent and child development. There is a range of “normal”, not every kid is going to speak 2 words at two or crawl at 8 months, introversion is not an illness…I worry that the more we cocoon ourselves with the other “normal” the more we contribute to loneliness and despair in the world. Oh, and life would be really boring

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