The Abnormality of Normalcy.

Who decides what is classified as normality? It’s a self-perceived judgement that we assign to people which has been based on what we pigeon-hole as ‘normal’ versus ‘abnormal’. As a person with bipolar disorder I find is especially difficult to differentiate between the supposed abnormal and normal behaviour that I’m meant to exhibit. Abnormality is defined as a deviation from the accepted thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Normalcy is described as the absence of illness, associated as well-being, the line between the two is difficult to pinpoint with various shades of grey in-between. Normalcy is to abnormality what opportunity is to opposition.

The creation of normalcy can be a strategy of physical as well as mental survival.  Potentially the non- or abnormal (or anomalous), the excluded and marginal, may create their own world of normality.  It can therefore be questioned: how normal are the people who create it? The concept of “normal” has a long history that has been defined and redefined to accommodate that changing perspectives. The Greeks originally linked the concept of “normal” with “natural’, consequently denoting an ideal state in which the regular and average also converges with “healthy” and “good.”

Maybe hypomania and depression is my form of normality, in my mind that is how I perceive myself. That is my normal, anything different is for me abnormal. It is also ‘normal’ for our minds to change what we believe is abnormal, predominately determined by the milieu at the time. Abnormal and normal is completely reliant on context, I think the whole concept of the two is flawed and interchangeable. They are both used to define the other, does that mean that abnormality is a myth merely used to differentiate between people, reliant on perceptions and judgments that aim to reject those who deviate away from common standards? There isn’t a ‘normal’, no one is completely normal, its an invented idea related to conformity, conformity allowing a more functional state within society.

Normal is a measure used to understand realities, society’s problems stemming from the misunderstanding of what we really are versus the social myths that have been adopted to label and separate varying groups of people.

“The real picture consists of nothing but exceptions to the rule.” C.G. Jung

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I have a very child-minded perspective of the world that allows little to no room for the areas of grey. The mood swings that people with Bipolar suffer are perceived by them as normal; they are their initial standard, making it difficult to perceive the different moods as ‘wrong’ or abnormal. The negative stigma or ‘untouchable’ topic of Bipolar has to be changed, everyone is abnormal, and normal is merely an unachievable standard that we base our own actions off. Normality is self-perceived and regulated by each individual, the individuality of normalcy makes everyone abnormal.

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34 thoughts on “The Abnormality of Normalcy.”

  1. This is a great post. I have been struggling lately with feeling like I do not fit in and I am not “normal: I have been accused to my face within this past week of having behaviors that are “Bizarre ” and therefor I must be on illegal drugs !! It is very frustrating to be yourself around people and be told that the behavior is unacceptable in the “normal” world.

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    1. It’s not a good feeling when people try and categorize people as different or other. I’ve had that enough in my life. Never let any people make you feel different, abnormal is just the new normal anyway 😉 Unacceptable behaviour is just part of the fun.

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  2. I view bipolar as a heightened (in both degree and frequency) dynamic state of consciousness. Normality has come to mean a lack of such variations, like being on a steady keel in a boat. But the ocean, like life itself, is full of big waves that make boats list one way or another. Whose expectations are we supposed to meet–our own or those of others? Since each of us is unique, who sets the standard? If we don’t live by our own lights, whose life are we leading? Your blog is very thought provoking, and raises crucial questions. Thank you for visiting my blog. In turn, I will explore yours. –Steve from planet Earth

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    1. Thanks steve. I completely agree with you. The heightened dynamic state of consciousness does usually become dyfunctional after a certain point though, maybe that’s where the perceived ‘normal’ comes into the spectrum, the area of emotions that don’t make people dysfunctional. I sometimes think that normal is just like a voting system, what vote determining what people make ‘normal’.

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  3. Your blog really intrigued me. I have struggled with what is normalcy. I consider myself normal and my PTSD as part of my brilliance. It has been part of my identity my whole life. IT is part of my authenticity. After 10 years of hard work, I have learned how to have a life of bliss and pain with living fully with my PTSD. My life is complete. I am complete.
    Look forward to keeping up with your blogs.

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    1. I struggled with normalcy for a long time, school wasn’t an easy place. I completely agree with the brilliance philosophy. I think the bliss and pain trump the midline that most people experience anyway, plus we are more fun ;). So glad to hear that you have such positive associations with life, life is complete, anyone trying to make us think less is a little person.

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  4. Excellent post. I have a daughter with Asperger’s who completely challenges anyone’s sense of ‘normal’. I am so grateful for the neurodiversity movement for flipping normal on its side. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and places where we can truly feel comfort in our skin, and shine on 🙂

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  5. Thank you for ‘liking’ my posting which gave me the opportunity to find yours. I have a family member who has struggled for a lifetime with what society labels as bi-polar. Thus, your last sentence particularly resonated with me. “Normality is self-perceived and regulated by each individual, the individuality of normalcy makes everyone abnormal.” Yours is a helpful posting. Keep on writing.

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  6. Thanks for linking my recent post which has WordPress alerting me to your Blog. I have several friends with bipolar but they are normal to me as they raise a family, shop, drive the car etc.. Also, I have a close friend who shares my love for a special author. So, having a violent family life, I can claim that I don’t always feel that I “fit in.”
    Kind Regards, Paul

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  7. Also, I understand that “bipolar” is a problem of balance, corrected by a drug. Yet, anxiety is also balance problem when the sympathetic nervous system has not getting enough dopamine. This is corrected by several long exhalations or even just pushing your tongue to the roof our your mouth, producing a dopamine spike.:-)
    All best wishes, Paul

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  8. “normal is merely an unachievable standard that we base our own actions off” So very true!
    Having lived with someone who was manic deressive and being a person who suffers from mental illness, I never felt “normal”. It’s good to know I am not alone in my abnormalcy.

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    1. Normal is a word to describe what is the norm or most usual thing observed. Year’s ago it was normal to smoke inside of buildings but that has changed. You mention “bipolar” and have several friends who are “bipolar” and they have drugs to keep a balance that all of us take for granted. Since it is normal these days to take prescription drugs, I can’t see how people can judge anyone with bipolar as abnormal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Again, If the weather is such that I have a runny nose or cough, I must reach for the medication. I wrote a blog post about “the Most Inspiring Person I have Ever Seen.” I think you will agree that this person is not “normal” but it doesn’t stop her from being inspiring.
        Please play this 5 minute movie: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0ByFUzo9KwryWWkRwUEw4bmZNaVk/view?sle=true

        Love and Blessings to all who agree with this message! Paul

        Liked by 1 person

      2. To describe one’s self as normal or abnormal is a self concept. I would not describe you or myself with these words but I would call us unique, which means we have something special to contribute in collaboration with others. This specialness is necessary to a creative problem process. Thus, without us, the process may be lacking the necessary input for a satisfying outcome!

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  9. We are all abnormal. We all go through abnormal times…this is normal. lol We all fall short…we all try to meet the measure. Society always finds in everyone something they can pigeon hole or “label” in order to make things comfortable for themselves. None of us totally fit in…its meant to be that way…that way we look outside of ourselves to complete us. Some people look to medication to complete them, some illegal drugs, some alcohol, some other people. But until we find the One who fills that shape of hole we have in our lives…we will not rest in looking outside ourselves or even inside ourselves (humanism) to become normal. A good book to read about ADHD is “The Diseasing of America’s Children” by John Rosemond. I wish more were writing out there about these kinds of things.

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      1. Dear Sister, I understand that we are all unique but that uniqueness need not separate us, although many are convinced that we are meant to compete and find faults in others. Thus, our uniqueness can be a blessing to a group of collaborators, bringing our special perspective to problem. I think parents and associates can say: “Be like me.” But, our unique perspective can be a blessing. I am inspired by ABBA’s song Dancing Queen, as they share their perspective and Invite us to imagine the gladness of the Dancing Queen “having the time of her life,” even though we can’t dance like her!
        Your Brother, Paul, Created by the same Creator.

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  10. I like the thought that the swings feel normal. That’s not something I’d ever consider (duh!). And we need to hear much more about the brilliance and mourn the loss of some of it because of medication.

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    1. Hi Janet, As you can see from the activity of this series of posts. We are all making a case for normacy. I actually do not classify myself as normal because I have “far out” ideas and this is often surprising to normal people. However, all that has been said in on this Blog is valid, no argument! Your are right in your recent statement and I think we have a consensus of opinion that should let the matter rest. At this point the discussion has become tedious. So this is my last reply.
      Thanks for all the discussion. I am sure many have been supported by this, even in the face of society which needs to pick at anything this is different than they believe.
      Best regards to all,

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  11. Great post! ‘Normalcy’ is, at it’s very simplest understanding of the term, a matter of numbers. If a majority of the populace exhibit behaviours deemed to conforming – not in a uniform way,mind, – to acceptable social expectations, then that is ‘normal’. As you point out, we are in a constant process of social flux, regarding attitudes, language, etc.

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  12. Great topic, I’ve often contemplated it myself. The definition of normal itself depends on a definition of illness. I wrote a research essay on the subjective nature of the term “illness” itself for one of my psych. projects and if “illness” is subjective so is “normal.” The two depend on each other. On another note, I beleive we see the world the way we are, not as it is (or arguably it is what we perceive even if it is subject to a million different bias’). Also, if majority rules (as our society often states it does) then whomever lives on the surface is “normal.” Thanks for the thoughts.

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  13. Dear Friends, I am glad you are exploring the word “normal.” It is based on what is average or the most common. I pride my mental state that doesn’t wish to be part of the herd. I deplore competition, even in sports, as it is the norm for a society which is self-centred, often to the detriment of others, I grew up in a rural part of Canada, being seen as different in my 8 year old American accent and feeling I didn’t fit-in. I came to accept all the biases, as I didn’t want to be the same as others. We were born unique and a friend gave a talk entitled: “Be a blessing! Be yourself!” as this can contribute to problem solving groups where normal meant a limited range of ideas. But, creative problem groups need the variety and I think, if we are different, we can be proud of that. Also, some people latch onto a diagnosis but “di” means two and “nosis” is not to know. So, two don’t know 🙂 I am glad of a conversation with No diagnosis because we can all know we are unique and therefore a blessing!

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  14. For most of my life, people have considered me abnormal although they used other words like the very popular “weird” to describe me. This post has been a reassurance for me in the sense that I am not alone with these feelings.

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    1. They try and negate the word ‘weird’ but I think its great to be weird if its different to the people that are trying to categorise me negatively. Thank you for your feed back, its also good to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think “weird” may be a handy word for those who are bound to the normal, family, social network programming of the their mind. We all need to get real to the fact that we are all unique and each one of us has something special to contribute in a fear based society, that doesn’t allow people to think about the wonderful contribution of each unique person.

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  15. There’s a great scene in a twilight zone episode about a guy falling in love with a doll in a dollhouse. It’s when he’s been locked up and the psychiatrist is meeting with the family. The stupid brother in law who really doesn’t get it asks the dr when the guy will be normal again. The psychiatrist has this really great answer I wish I could quote!

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