Many people throw the words perfect, normal , abnormal around easily. The functionality and meaning behind the words is being lost. They are being used and meant in contexts which offer a different suggestion to the meaning than initially intended.
Let’s firstly take the word perfect. What is perfection? Here is the definition :-
But do we use it as it was intended? Is there such thing as perfection? When we use the word “perfect”, we are indirectly comparing it with something we see as imperfect, to make that perfect. The danger is we use the word perfect to describe people’s looks, personality etc. But than whom are we to indirectly compare people? Who is deemed imperfect for them to be seen as perfect?
For me the element of perfection, is subjective and the word should be used with caution. As in doing so, you may be offending someone.
Now let’s look at normal vs abnormal .
So normal is used when we look at the whole and see where you fit. Dependent on where you lie, you are seen as normal or abnormal. This phenomenon is used in psychological research known as Normal Distribution. But is often a reflection of daily life.
Above is the normal distribution curve used by researchers to understand data. On the curve if you fall on the main centre line you are deemed “perfect” or “normal”. If you fall anywhere within the curvature you are seen as normal. But the further away from the centre line you fall the more abnormal you appear. If you fall completely above the curved line, you are known as an anomaly and which is often removed, as it can skew the data. This than cause the data to be unusable and insignificant, researchers always aim for significant results.
This method to understanding data, can be applied to our daily lives and the general population. For example we all hold our own standards and expectations, based on our experiences and beliefs. If someone/something falls out of range from our expectations, we immediately view them as an anomaly and abnormal.
Unfortunately this crude thinking has been placed on certain groups of people. One such group is, the mentally ill. For centuries, being mentally ill, led the individual into being outcast from society and isolated, alone and forgotten. Also ridiculed and shamed in public. Many were killed or imprisoned . Society is unable to cope with anyone whom lies outside the norm or who strays to far away from it. Like in research the abnormality is dealt with, often removed. But does society have a right to do this??
However from centuries of viewing individuals with mental health as “abnormal”, humanity has created an ingrained judgmental and discriminatory culture and feeling towards the mentally ill. Still to this day, individuals with a mental illness are isolated from their family or community.
Upon reflection and observation, how does this help the individual and how are we making them feel?
In today’s society the rate of suicide is becoming more prevalent. There are many factors which are involved with suicide, one being- how they are treated and viewed by the general public. As humans, we are fearful and defensive to the unknown, we observe and assess the risk. This is a natural human response. However what we find is people whom don’t understand mental health will stare, comment and make the individual feel uncomfortable. We may not even realise we are doing it!
We fail to realise the impact such terminology can have on a person.
If someone is constantly referred to as abnormal, they begin to see themselves as abnormal and intern will develop a low self esteem. They will regard themselves as lesser than thou. Meaning, they have a defeated outlook to life, little to no confidence, subsequently may develop depression.
Words are very powerful and can have a major impact on others lives. We all must be mindful in what we say, what descriptive words we choose to use and how we express our thoughts. Being mindful of this ensures that no one feel inferior than another or outcast.