What is Normal? explores contemporary notions of normality and how the therapy profession is engaging with that question today.
Many people strive to be normal, and deviation from accepted norms can feel like failure. But why do we want to be normal? And what does that mean? Ordinary? Sane? Similar? When probed, the notion of normality starts to look fragile. It is not clear who decides what being normal means or who is entitled to say. Nonetheless, concerns about conforming and being accepted are deeply pervasive.
With an extraordinary diversity of perspectives, the authors featured in this collection – all psychotherapists – use biographical accounts, political analyses and clinical vignettes to challenge the concept of normality. Through these stories and discussions, it emerges that our very uniqueness, oddness and differences as individuals are what make us fully human.
At a time of rapid social change, the freedom to be oneself – whatever form that takes – is at the core of contemporary debate, and this volume makes a vital contribution to that project.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“This compilation of insightful, thoughtful, and highly original explorations gently subverts the concepts of normal as conventional and of what we often call ‘disease’ as abnormal. Written with sensitivity and compassion, it is a challenging and much needed contribution to the psychotherapeutic literature.” Gabor Maté, M.D., author of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress.
“What is Normal? is a really brilliant resource for therapists – or anyone – who has serious doubts about the set of ideas and ideals that passes itself off as ‘normality’. This book manages to be simultaneously comforting and challenging, presenting a stunning array of provocations to anyone who thinks there’s anything normal about normality.” Anouchka Grose, psychoanalyst and author of A Guide to Eco-Anxiety and Are You Considering Therapy?
“Roz Carroll and Jane Ryan have done an absolutely excellent job at bringing together some of the world’s most creative and intelligent psychotherapists to teach us about the complex concept of ‘normality’. This should be core reading for anyone interested in the idea that all people are unique individuals who cannot be categorised by conventions.” Professor Estela Welldon, author of Mother, Madonna, Whore.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
1. The new normal - Tania Glyde
2. Therapy and hope: are they really normal? - Andrew Samuels
3. No escape from ‘normal’ - Doris Brothers
4. The normal couple therapist - Jane Haberlin
5. Your normal, my normal. Disruptions, accommodations and respect between therapist and patient - Susie Orbach
6. Black paranormal: a playlist - Foluke Taylor
7. Normal sex - Meg-John Barker
8. Minding the gap: a couple psychotherapist’s perspective - Christopher Clulow
9. Born to love, driven to destroy - Felicity de Zulueta
10. The myth of normality - Chris Oakley
11. The shifting landscape of sexual normality - Dany Nobus
12. Norms and normality: a socio-psychoanalytic approach - Stephen Seligman
13. Why would I want to be normal? - Lennox K. Thomas
14. The problem of words. It’s why we are all mad! - Phil Mollon
15. Negotiating the normal - Ann Shearer
16. Flourishing: the ‘normal’ therapist versus the‘healthy’ therapist - Brett Kahr
17. Cultural schizophrenia and internalised racism are not normal - Isha Mckenzie-Mavinga
18. In the therapy room: are all patients normal? - Valerie Sinason
19. When simply being human is abnormal - Stephen Setterberg
20. Future flat-packed or future fluid? Why normal is the problem - Roz Carroll
About the Editors:
Jane Ryan trained as a psychotherapist at the Centre for Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (CAPP) in the 1990s. Having worked in private practice for 8 years she set up Confer in order to bridge the theoretical gaps between schools of thought and professional communities in the field, and to provide a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue. She is the editor of How Does Psychotherapy Work? (Karnac, 2006) and Tales of Psychotherapy (Karnac, 2007).
Roz Carroll is a relationalbody psychotherapist and supervisor. She teaches on the MA in Integrative Psychotherapy at The Minster Centre and has been a regular speaker for Confer for twenty years. She is committed to interdisciplinary dialogue. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters on subjects from working with the body in psychotherapy to intersubjectivity.