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What is Normal?

Updated on April 17, 2011

What is a normal personality? What is an abnormal personality? The answer to these questions is not easy to find. The words "normal" and "abnormal" have different meanings for different people. From the so-called normative view, anybody who is different from the one making the judgment is abnormal. In terms of the statistical view, however, anybody is abnormal who diverges very much from the average. The average person, according to this view, is the most normal one. From the purely social viewpoint, the normal person is the one who is adjusted to his environment to such an ex­tent that he finds life enjoyable, and the abnormal one is the unadjusted - the one, in extreme cases, who would like to escape from reality. To complicate the matter further, each of us may toe the normative, statistical, or social line with respect to some traits and not with respect to others. Moreover, we may be adjusted most of the time but not in an emergency or disaster. Generally speaking, however, the individual is regarded as normal if he has some socially acceptable goal around which his activities are integrated, if he finds the pursuit of his goal worthwhile, and if, in general, he gets pleasure out of living. The person who has no socially acceptable goal, who is at cross-purposes within himself and with his group, and who does not enjoy life as it is, but tries to shut himself off from it, is, generally speaking, regarded as having an ab­normal personality.

Uncommon Sense

Where psychologists are asked to intervene in matters that would at one time have been left to 'common sense', it sometimes seems that what was common was not all that sensible. What would you do, as a western American sheepfarmer, if coyotes were preying on your flocks? The answer the farmers gave was: 'Shoot the coyotes.' But conservation in today's world extends even to coyotes, and a better solution came from the psychologists. Aversion conditioning is a technique used to break addictions or to reform undesirable behavior in human beings, notably those hooked on alcohol. Taken from the psychotherapist's clinic to the sheeplands, it proved just as effective on coyotes. Baits of sheepmeat dosed with an emetic drug switched them from sheep to an alternative- rabbits.

Obviously there are matters a lot nearer home that will bear a close look from psychology. Are women the 'weaker sex'? Recent investigations seem to indicate that women have better physio­logical control than men have. There is much more—from the relatively trivial (why do people like to frighten themselves at horror movies or on fairground rides?) to the fundamentally important (why does a four-year-old learn, say, Chinese faster and better than a university student by all other indicators at the height of his learning potential?).

Were it not for the direction in which the observation of people's behavior has gone (from classification by 'humors' to controlled psychological experimentation) there would now be no way for us to tackle such problems of what we are and how we behave, no reliable or consistent starting-point from which to begin the slow, hard business of understanding ourselves.


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    • Several Ninjas profile image

      Several Ninjas 6 years ago

      you are most welcome miss kimberly.

    • profile image

      kimberlyslyrics 6 years ago

      I know this sounds odd but I am so grateful to you[z] and clarification. What a day

      First I actually see I am normal, then second my 12th month [+11] to be gifted with the proof of new news my stain came out of my septic tank.

      I learned group therapy helps where you see it most, I may just be scape free of goats, alcohol is bad company, I am not leaving, no really I am not, my hub got pulled today and somehow its okay because I am eating lots of cheese.

      So much and I am a rambler, just the biggest thing I learned today is ya, the good guys can win and their are those good people that need not accolades to show, when they are most deserving

      Yep no stains and no pains

      kisses and hugs