Am I normal?

Let’s start from here : what is normal? In psychology it is well defined and we can look at it from 4 different perspectives. The bell curve is what would be defined as statistically normal. The highest point of the curve is what we would call normal, it’s the point of reference. 

And this is what I want to stay on to begin this talk because I believe that this is why we seek so desperately to be defined in the eyes of the other. But of course, what is the highest point of a curve depends on what constitutes the lot being evaluated. So it is only relatable as long as we agree on the paradigm it exists in. While we thought the earth was flat, it was the norm to believe this and we could have easily made a bell curve proving this. If we do the same today, we find that the “flat earthers” are not the norm but instead on the periphery of the curve. 

And actually, if we would look at social media and the pop psychology we find there, it would seem as if the norm today would be a multitude of labels. For instance, the label of being a narcissist today would be the norm statistically, implying that whenever someone is labelled this, it is the truth. Whereas a certain number of years ago, this was literally a deviance, a pathology situated under the umbrella of perversion. So is perversion the norm now? Because by definition, it really can’t be. Perverted means torn, twisted and needs to be torn off or twisted from something in order to correspond to anything at all. 

We are all convinced that being normal is what we need to be, it’s what is healthy.

This does not include the memes and jokes on social media saying that normal is boring and that we prefer to be a little twisted. Because the truth of the matter is that deep down, we are all seeking something that makes us feel belonging. And the fact that The Norm is defined by what most people agree on, is inclusive. 

I believe that this is why we see this eager striving for definitions on ourselves and others. Because the fact that there is a normality implies as the curve shows us, that there is duality : that there is something to compare it with. And if there is one thing labels do, it separates what is from what isn’t. 

I made a post a few years ago on the labelling theory and how detrimental it is. In criminology it has been taken under serious observation because as we are being labelled we also accept the label. This theory states therefore that one of the reasons we can see tendencies in crime rate depending on population, social and economical status is the fact that the label is put on people as soon as they are born. Basically, if you are expected to become delinquent, you end up being one.

And these days people seem to think that therapy helps us to label and therefore separate and define. Especially defining how others are wrong and bad. 

I have even had people asking me what my speciality is in terms of clientele. But I would like to argue that it would defeat the purpose of the therapy to narrow down this way. Because while it’s a question of understanding the very specificity of the patient, it is by no means a way to put them in a category of types. 

When someone decides to come and see me, it’s because they have a quest. They have a symptom. But this symptom is purely individual and singular to the patient. 

It is what defines them and what also is limiting them. They do not see it clearly for what it is but they have established that “something needs to change”. 

The work then becomes to bring the symptom into awareness and then see how attached the patient is to it while they also are frustrated with its existence. 

Let’s take a second to just clarify what I mean by symptom. As most of us can agree on, the medical definition of this word would be something along the lines of “a manifestation of an illness.”

With this in mind, from the psychoanalytic perspective the symptom is why the person comes to see me but if they come to see me it’s because they have been aware of this for quite some time, they really identify with it. That is what makes it all the harder to work through. To be sure that you see my drift : if i have a physical symptom of a sore throat, i will most probably seek help within hours or days of experiencing the symptom. However, the symptom of emotional unavailability will have been repeated itself so many times before the person becomes aware of it that it will most probably have been around for 10, 20, 30 years. So you can see how the identification with the symptom happens. 

From Freud’s look at it : a symptom is the solution the person finds (the unconscious) to an unsolved desire. Unsolved so therefore repeated by the unconscious over and over since the solution therefore is unsatisfactory. If we start to look at people with this perspective, can you see how very singular each symptom is? Because it will naturally depend on the experiences that the person has in their history, in their proverbial backpack. 

Whatever we have inside of us but that we cannot make sense of (ie the manifestation of the symptom) is due to it’s unconscious characteristics. It is on a level beyond what we see. If you will, we can also so say that it is not represented yet in our speech. To be in our speech, it needs to be clear enough to be a symbol. A symbol because to use a word for something, there needs to be a word that symbolises it. By speech we begin to verbalise what so far has not yet been, we begin to make tangible what exists inside of us but that has had no words before. We begin to create our Truth. This truth is not on a factual level and it need not to be. 

Truth involves speech, it involves the realisation of the subject which is done in talking in a context where the subject speech can reverberate back upon them. If there is no seeking of a factual truth to compare it to, there is no place for a measuring stock. Therefore, no duality if you will. 

This counters COMPARISON : the very base for the tendency to want to label everyone around you. 

Comparison is something we would not naturally do, it something we have been taught to in order to know if we are doing well. So the root of comparison is a fear that maybe we are not doing well, maybe we are actually doing badly. And then we can simply ask ourselves, why would that be so horrible if we are doing badly? Well, of course because maybe then we are not loveable…. That is what shame has taught us. So the need to determine, to classify, to get the feedback is always based in this fear of needing to 

know : am I loveable?

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞