Normality challenged

1mysFrom Wish I Could Be There: Notes From a Phobic Life by Allen Shawn.

The concept of normality is due for an overhaul. “Normality” is a relative term…Each human being is a peculiar balance of assets and defects, physical, psychological, sociological. When you see a person’s strengths, they are, by and large, eclipsing equally powerful weaknesses. Indeed the presence of outstanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channeled away from them. We should not be surprised to find some variety of mental anguish inside even the most “normal” exterior; we should assume it. People are infinitely layered. There are those who are sturdier in a crisis and bear up well under life’s assaults. We need such role models before us to steady us on our way. And to aspire to a sense of balance in the face of life’s challenges is certainly sensible. But those same sturdy people may fail in important spheres. So often does one discover serious deficiencies in those who superficially seem to function well, and compensatory strengths in those who appear to function less well, that it is tempting to suggest a more flexible model of mental health than that which we rely upon for convenience. In those who are remarkable for their sangfroid and equanimity, whose shadows do not show, just where are the darkeer forces that animate all nature but that only man has the ability to conceal? They may be buried deep, only to reemerge in actions with dire consequences. In the end, whatever people achieve that is most wonderful, beautiful, interesting, and inspirational is, by definition, not normal…

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