How Abnormal Are You?

abnormal mental illness

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal…Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”  ~ Aldous HuxleyBrave New World Revisited

This quote kind of blows my mind. If I understand it correctly, Huxley is saying that those who are normal, or well-adjusted to life, are actually the abnormal ones, and those of us (myself included) who are “neurotic” or according the psychoanalytical theory have a:

“poor ability to adapt to one’s environment, an inability to change one’s life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality” as evident by mental illnesses such as depression, acute or chronic anxiety, obsessive–compulsive tendencies, specific phobias, such as social phobia, arachnophobia or any number of other phobias, and some personality disorders: paranoid, schizotypal, borderline, histrionic, avoidant, dependent and obsessive–compulsive

are the normal ones.

What do you think about this? Do you agree with this view of what is normal versus abnormal? Do you think that those of us with mental illness are more sensitive to the tragedies and injustices of the world? If so, why are those who aren’t as sensitive considered to be “normal” in the sense that they are mentally healthier than those of us with mental illness? Who are really the sick ones here?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Any type of discussion this quote may spark is appreciated.

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8 thoughts on “How Abnormal Are You?

  1. I feel like one of the abnormals, walking around with the normals. I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but most days I feel like I’m faking it to get by. Especially social interactions. I know this isn’t the normal way to be, because I’m always struggling to keep my head above water. To keep acting normal, even tho I’m usually consumed with anxiety or at least totally preoccupied with how different I am from everyone else. LOL! I didn’t mean to get THAT personal! How’s that for discussion? 🙂

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    • I know the feeling. Social anxiety is so difficult. I experience it simply because of the sights and sounds of being in a busy environment…I get overstimulated and then very anxious. Plus, I am such an introvert which makes me feel different in social situations. I limit how often I expose myself to these types of situations whenever I can. Thanks so much for starting our discussion! 🙂

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      • You’re welcome. It’s good to talk about these things. I really like your blog! I feel like less of weird-o reading stories like tours. Today my almost 6 year old said, “Sometimes when I’m in school or in karate I think I’m in the wrong place. Like I should be somewhere else.” I hope I’m not passing on my anxiety and social alienation. :/

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        • thanks for the compliment. We’re not weird (well, maybe we are -haha) The trick is being ok with being different from the “norm” instead of having to become like the norm before you are ok. Does that make sense?

          Once I got to that point my mental suffering greatly decreased. It is a struggle somedays not to judge myself for how I am. I constantly have to work at it. But it seems to be the key to some peace of mind for me.

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  2. This is written with the assumption that society can ever be considered normal and one dimensional and that things don’t generally ebb and flow all around. Things aren’t so simple to be able to theorize here although I think it’s an enjoyable aritcle. 🙂 “Mental Sickness” in and of itself from where I sit can’t be “measured” either- again constantly moving and fluid.

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    • True…these things aren’t simple enough to theorize. And this is an isolated quote taken from a book I have never read, so what the author truly meant I can’t be for sure.

      It makes me think, however, that if one isn’t somewhat anxious and/or depressed at times then he is actually the mentally ill one because it is part of the human condition to feel these emotions from time to time (unless you are a psychopath/sociopath in which case you really are mentally ill 🙂 )

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      • Like I said interesting no doubt. And yes thought provoking. I just don’t think anything can be defined as normal haha And yes depression and some sort of madness is part of the human condition and “nromal” to me. 🙂

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