The ‘new normal’

Years ago, during my last therapy session with a well-known psychiatrist, I asked her if she had ever known a “normal” person. She looked puzzled, and slightly annoyed. “I mean someone who has no neuroses, no issues, needed no therapy?” I explained. She couldn’t think of anyone.

These days, I don’t need to ask, because I am convinced (but tentatively as always) that there is no “normal”. There is simply a human spectrum. And each of us is somewhere on that spectrum. In my experience, this applies to just about every aspect of who we are – from gender, to sexual orientation, to taste in music, art, clothing, colours we respond to, favourite activities or interests – the categories are endless.

It even applies to what I affectionately refer to as ‘quirks and foibles’. Everyone has them – from the acquaintance who can’t stand the sound of people chewing food, to a variety of behaviour tics, to people who have a compulsion of some sort – like nail-biting, or a compulsion to straighten any wrinkled cloth, or someone who hears voices (perhaps 10% of the population). In my case, if you watch carefully you might notice my fingers moving: they are “typing” most of my thoughts…

For my taste, the only scary people are those who would have us all exist on their preferred spot on that spectrum. This would be like trying to build a prison for the human race.

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