Once in awhile I wish that everyone in the world could spend a week in my chair, listening to people describes their lives. What I think they would find, besides a real chance to help others, is that things they believe are “wrong” with them, are really completely normal.

Our culture does a pretty terrible job educating us about normal human functioning. In fact, after 12 years of school, and then 10 more years of college and graduate school, I never once had a single full lecture on “normal” or “healthy” functioning. That fact alone helps me understand some of the questions or fears my clients have.

5 Comments to
Doc, Am I Normal? Yes.

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  1. Thank you for this! I work at a Distress Centre, and I get the “am I normal?” question all the time. Along with, “that’s crazy isn’t it? Doesn’t that make me crazy?” I don’t have a lot of formal training in psychology, but I know instinctively that these things are normal. My response is always, “Yes, that’s prefectly normal. What’s important is how you feel about it and how you handle it. Having trouble coping with it is also a perfectly normal, human experience.” I really feel that in this respect media portrayals of mental illness and the resulting perception from the general public has done a huge disservice to the field.

    The result is we have a lot of folks experiencing undue stress over behaviours and feelings that are natural or worse, being ‘diagnosed’ by amatuers as a result of those behaviours.

    It’s nice to see a professional verifying this.

  2. Thanks for this. I am not “normal” in the specific sens eof this post, since I have a legitimate mental health condition, but I certainly think things I experience are way more abnormal than my psychologist thinks they are. Consequently, when I want to tell her about some symptom I experience, I always think she will see it as “too crazy” and not believe me. So far, she always has taken me seriously and at the same time often reassured me.

  3. I don’t know about anyone else, but I experienced a great sense of relief in reading this post. I have, like most people, often asked myself if I were “normal”. I always answered myself “yes”, but then had the uneasy feeling that I might be wrong… then I wondered why I was talking to myself.

    Thanks for the reassurance!

  4. Excellent! Thanks for the great article, it’s very useful and timely actually. :)

  5. Normal and abnormal may have some broader meanings for creative and high ability people. In his paper on the topic, Psychology Prof. Steven Bartlett writes, “There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that, compared to ‘normal’ individuals, artists, writers, and creative people in general, are both psychologically ‘sicker’ – that is, they score higher on a wide variety of measures of psychopathology – and psychologically healthier (for example, they show quite elevated scores on measures of self-confidence and ego strength). (Jamison, 1993, p. 97).

    “Definitions of ’sick’ and ‘well’ may not always be helpful. Perhaps psychology itself is ‘abnormal’ and will benefit from new paradigms of what it is to be human as creative people embrace their complex psyches.”

    Source: The Abnormal Psychology of Creativity and the Pathology of Normality [PDF], by Steven James Bartlett, Visiting Scholar in Psychology, Willamette University and Senior Research Professor, Oregon State University. See link in my post Creativity and madness: The Abnormal Psychology of Creativity
    http://talentdevelop.com/3251/

  6. For someone who has been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar, dyslexic, agoraphobic and ECD…one would think that I would want to be “normal”…but as I watch the actions of these greedy, meat eating, corrupted minds out there, I can only thank God yet once again for being abnormal.

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