What is Normal?
I watched a great documentary program called Doc Zone recently, an episode called “The Age of Anxiety”. It was about the over-prescribing of drugs for what are now known as anxiety disorders. People interviewed said what we are seeing is the “medicalization of normality”. What’s going on here?
Typically when someone with anxiety issues goes to the doctor, he or she listens to the story of the symptoms, sees where the symptoms fit in terms of pathology, comes up with a diagnosis and prescribes a drug to address the problem. How can this be happening when we’ve known better for over one hundred years? In 1905 Carl Jung said: “In therapy the problem is always the whole person, never the symptom alone. We must ask questions which challenge the whole personality.”
I suggest we need to start with an understanding of what contributes to a normal healthy personality then identify what’s missing in the patient’s life; support, community, balance and nurturing, for starters. It seems to me, more times than not, what’s needed is a plan, not a drug.
Is it normal to be upset when one loses a loved one or a relationship ends and life changes irreversibly? Is it normal to feel stressed when all one does is work, feeling unsupported by community or family who may be far away? Is it normal when you’re dealing with many life-changes at once and your life is out of balance to feel overwhelmed? Yes, it is.
We didn’t always live this way. There was a time when extended family lived nearby, when people knew someone had their back. It was a time when a small house and one car would suffice, when one parent was at home, making a home for the family. Then “simple” was special and getting caught up in the rat race was for fools.
We used to be “front porch people” conversing with our neighbors who were out for a walk in the evening but now we’re “back deck people” hiding behind high walls with gazebo net coverings. Even when we’re away from our homes we’re shutting out the world with earphones, texting while we walk, ignoring the people who are right in front of us.
Being a part of a community, leading a balanced life, feeling nurtured and knowing someone has your back are normal. If we’re missing that it’s no wonder we feel so stressed.
Do we really need a drug for that?
What do you think is at the root of the problem? Do you see a better solution? Does anyone believe we’re evolving towards a better way of life?
photo credit: Karrie Nodalo