Normal. A word so commonly used. Especially in the field I work in, normal means has great significance…it means you don’t have to see a psychologist. You are not ‘abnormal’. You do not have any ‘clinical problems’ or any “mental health issues”. You are coping well with life in general. You are normal.
Even in my search for a place recently, I came across a lot of people looking for someone ‘normal’ to share their place. I was told by one person that I came across as being normal to them (which may have had to do with me telling them my profession). I did not end up taking that place by the way.
There was an incident in Melbourne yesterday where a father threw his 4 year old daughter off the bridge. In a TV ‘interview’ with a neighbour, she described the family as being…you guessed it…”normal”. She was shocked at what had taken place because, you see, the father was so normal. We don’t expect this kind of behaviour from ‘normal’ people now, do we?
Who decides what is normal and what isn’t? If we were to take the DSM-IV (which is how psychologists and psychiatrists diagnose mental health problems) as an example, then it is a bunch of narcissists from the medical field sitting up in their offices making a decision whether I’m normal or not. And who are they to decide whether a person who prefers being by themselves than with others is not ‘normal’? Who are they to decide that a child that does not listen to their parents (because actually, it’s the parents that have no rules) is not ‘normal’? Who are they to decide that if someone prays everytime they have a thought that their loved ones may die, is not ‘normal’? Who are they?
Don’t get me wrong — I diagnose mental health problems based on the DSM-IV myself. But I do constantly wonder why we do it. There’s some diagnoses I agree with. But then, there’s others I loathe such as ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’ or ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ or ‘Dependant Personality Disorder’. What is it that makes one person more ‘normal’ than someone else?
In my opinion, being ‘normal’ is over-rated. Because, no one is. If every person were honest, we would find out that no one meets this ‘criteria’ of normality.
Not you. Not me.
I’m not ‘normal’. I have my hang ups. I get anxious in new social situations. I get anxious about the future. I strive for perfectionism which only helps in increasing my anxiety. I get depressed every now and then. I rant. I am cynical. But hey, apparently, I am ‘normal’ to the strangers I meet. To the people that don’t know me very well. The same way as we all come across to others. Apart from the person muttering to themselves on the street, we all put on a facade of normalcy. Even those medical professionals that wrote up the DSM-IV criteria.
Everyone strives so hard to be ‘normal’ that they stress out more when they are not.
Why not just accept the reality?
Nobody is normal…
And that’s what makes life worth living 🙂
Until next time,