What is Normal: Sexuality to Psychology



I have been thinking a lot about the word 'normal' lately and have been catching up on my feed reading where I have found a mountain of people struggling with situations caused by this word 'normal'. Whether it be in relation to sexuality and where you fit on the Kinsey scale or whether it be about being gay or whether it be about what is normal for a person of your age it is all very confusing. The dictionary describes normal as:-

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. serving to establish a standard.
3. Psychology.

a. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.

b. free from any mental disorder; sane.


Now, even the dictionary definition is ambiguous. I mean "conforming to the standard or common type". Now in my way of thinking that relies on statistics to come up with a common type and in my experience even though statistics can give an indication, they are flawed at best. To gain many statistics you need to produce data which is often from a form of survey. That survey is completed by people and people often don't tell the truth in a survey. For example many won't answer questions if they fee uncomfortable with revealing certain things about themselves. Now in other surveys like our countries periodical Census which allows the government to plot the future however doesn't actually have options to clearly spell out same sex couples. So determining normal seems to get more difficult.

Clinical psychologists may say that normal, is often perceived by social norms but even that is flawed because it is influenced by how we were raised, the groups we associated with and our personal belief structures. For example I don't see people who enjoy going out and getting drunk as "normal" however someone who has grown up around that or socialises with people who do that may see that as "normal". Culturally issues such as being gay may not be seen as normal because it is not common amongst peoples circles and the thousands of years of conditioning that people have received.

I have found that as individuals we each decide what we consider normal. In saying that I have found there is no such thing. Normal simply does not exist. I don't want to play semantics but to me what we are really saying when we use the word normal or say that some action is not normal is that it doesn't fit into our reality or it doesn't fit with what I want in my reality. At this point we can either accept the differences, compromise on behaviours or discard people and situations that don't meet our idea of normal (reality).

Consider this next time you use the word normal and although I know there are a million scenarios and justifications both legitimate and not, I think and feel the word is just too ambiguous and most of the time doesn't make a lot of sense.

Stevie

brisbane