“What we call normal in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average.” ~ Abraham Maslow
Normality is not reality.
Having something be normal does not imply that it is in any way righteous or sane. The societal curve is not inherently one of benevolence or truth, and it is important to recognize this—for then, we are more inclined to deeply question and ponder upon the world around us.
We must see through the myth of “normal” so as to come upon our true nature.
Generally, when people say someone is “not normal,” it is implied that there is something wrong with them—when, in truth, that person is simply not conforming to the preset notions of what it means to be normal.
Perhaps there is something wrong with them, but it is not because they are not normal. Again, capitulating to the pervading cultural narrative does not make you a healthy or balanced person, even if you are that way.
It seems valuable to make this distinction between normality and righteousness, and it certainly has proven valuable in my own experience.
If I merely accepted my surroundings as containing some kind of intrinsic meaning, some kind of truth, then I really don’t believe that I would have developed in the manner that I have. We cultivate ourselves through inquiry, not through blind acceptance and not through subjugating ourselves to this quite flimsy idea of normal.
When I fell ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is a real bugger of a disease to contend with (at age 18 no less), I had to see beyond these false notions of normalcy. Otherwise, I really don’t think I would’ve been able to go on, because the pain was so great. If I’d just acquiesced to myself being worse than other people because I no longer fit into this very limiting box of normalcy, or worse if I had tried to push myself so as to be “normal” and maintain my egoic identity, I would not have found my way.
I guess the point I am making is that normal is a pretty abstract notion—and although it perhaps has some usefulness in public discourse, it does not speak to some absolute truth about who or what we are.
It is a very misleading term, because it would seem to allude to there being some kind of “right” approach to life, and I just think we are too silly to really deal in absolutes.
We are silly, ape people, and normality is really just something we implicitly agreed upon so as to maintain some kind of order in our culture. Again, it has its place—but it seems as though often it works to condense rather than expand our perception of the world.
If we might come to alleviate ourselves of our conditioning and let go of our preconceived notions of what is “normal,” then perhaps we would be predisposed to going deep within ourselves and uncovering what is true for us.
This is not some kind of external truth I am speaking of, but rather a kind of experiential truth—the truth of how we feel most deeply, the truth of how we wish to live.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: elephant archives; Flickr/Barbro Andersen
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina