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Tag Archives: Insanity

(Ab)normality

What is normality or abnormality to you? Who gets to define what normality is?

During a (not so) profound discussion during IB Psychology HL, we reached the topic of abnormality versus normality as part of the abnormal psychology coursework. The question posed was: How do you know if someone is insane? A slew of responses followed this generic question:

-they hurt themselves

-they hurt other people

-they commit a crime

-they can’t function properly in society

I guess each one of these statements have a grain of truth in them. Me, being the ever-so eager student of the class, I shot a question right back: Aren’t all these definitions related? They are interlinked because they imply that society gets to dictate normality.

My teacher, flabbergasted for a moment, stuttered out a response. “All right, how else would one define normality, other than using the standards of society?”

After a few dispersed responses, somehow, a concordance was reached: biology should be the answer. Biology should be the definitive standard for deciding whether a person is sane or insane.

Yet, aren’t all the books (including the DSM) structured and written by human beings? Does this not, once again, trace back to society and its dictatorship in defining normality?

None of the young, brilliant minds of IB Psychology HL students noted this fact.

The common perception is that the majority is “normal” and that this “normality” is the standard for sanity versus insanity that applies to everyone else, including the minority. Funny how things work sometimes.

D

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