The Psychopathology of Normality

The estimated reading time for this post is 1 minutes

As I approach the end of my first month on the 21st Century Learning Team, I’ve been reflecting on the surreality of this employment experience; this department seems to revel in the nontraditional, the abnormal. So far, this “job” seems to be dramatically different than any other I’ve had before, and I LIKE it.  So far, I have worked with my teammates to create and stream live shows, podcasts, and original songs, all while taking the time to develop mutual respect, trust, and understanding for each other (and, yes, that is considered “work”). I have begun to ask myself, “Why does this abnormal situation make me feel so darn good?” And, that is why I started to read about the “Psychopathology of Normality”.

In education, we often refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; this is the idea that one cannot become self-actualized, or the best “version” of oneself, until fundamental needs like shelter, warmth, food, love, safety, etc. are met. It turns out that Maslow had some other observations about why humans so rarely become self-actualized, one of which he titled “The Psychopathology of Normality” (explained in a blog found here). The basic idea is that striving to be “normal” (or “like everyone else”) is an inhibitor to self-actualization, and may actually be evidence of an unhealthy mental state (a.k.a. psychopathology). Sorry! I mean no offense to you “normal” people. But, what’s my point?

My point is that having experiences that look/feel different than the status quo, while discomforting, are actually “good” for you.  Embrace the weird!  Next time someone proposes a new idea, activity, or strategy, try to say, “I have never done that before, but let’s try!” rather than, “I don’t do that kind of stuff, weirdo.”  You may find that by getting away from your definition of self, you may discover who you actually are!

 

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Brad Swan

Brad Swan

Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA): 21st Century Learning Team at Santa Ana Unified School District
I am an English teacher turned 21st Century Learning Specialist. My personal interests/areas of expertise include the law/criminology, "hard" science (especially theoretical astrophysics and cosmology), athletics/fitness, and general silliness!
Brad Swan

Latest posts by Brad Swan (see all)

Brad Swan

Brad Swan

I am an English teacher turned 21st Century Learning Specialist. My personal interests/areas of expertise include the law/criminology, "hard" science (especially theoretical astrophysics and cosmology), athletics/fitness, and general silliness!

2 thoughts on “The Psychopathology of Normality

  • February 22, 2017 at 12:31 pm
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    Hey Brad. I love your blog. After reading it, I was like… Amen Brother!

    Reading your blog instantly made me think of Steve Jobs, Apple Computers and the “Think Different” Slogan and Campaign. Though Jobs wasn’t the nicest of guys, he sure looked at the world of computing differently and in doing so changed the world.

    I am going to make a point of embracing my inner weird and ‘Be Different”.

    Lauerette

    Reply
    • Brad Swan
      February 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm
      Permalink

      As an English teacher, I always cringed at the questionable grammar of the “Think Different” (“Think–Different” or “Think Differently” or even “Think: Different” would work better for me!), but the message is certainly worth broadcasting! Where would we be if we all thought and acted the same? Scary thought…maybe ideas are like genes; they flourish best in a diverse pool, rather than a bland, homogeneous soup.

      Laurette–you’ve always been one of my fellow favorite weirdos (tie-dyed lab coat, anyone?), and I mean that as a massive compliment! Thanks for keeping it weird, being yourself, and encouraging those kiddos to be their own kind of strange, too!

      Reply

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