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Home » Featured, Headline, Problem Solving, Self Esteem

Do you have a “normal mind”?

Submitted by on March 13, 2012 – 11:33 pmNo Comment

Author: Sabry Fattah

The problem of normal mind is a big question in psychiatry. It is not as simple as presence or absence of mental health problems. Many of the symptoms seen in the psychiatric clinic are also described by those who never ask to see a psychiatrist. Many have experienced anxiety, distress, sleeplessness, sadness and obsessive thoughts throughout their life without seeking medical help. It is acceptable in many cultures to go through bereavement with all its sadness and pain, vivid memories and recall of voices without considering this experience as abnormal. Occasionally, we may hear someone calling our names, or suddenly hear a favorite musical tune in the absence of external source when we are tired or distressed. Some people hear voices at the time they drop off into sleep.

Our dreams are nothing but complex hallucinations. The World Health organization understands normality as being well in mind, body and social life. In other words, to be free from physical and mental illness. Mental illness appears in signs of distress, suffering, psychological and mental pain.

Neurosis is the group of ailments characterized by anxiety in the form of distress, tension, worries, apprehension, obsessions, compulsion, avoidance, and fear. Neurosis is the category of mental disorder which does not involve distortion of reality, but there is marked anxiety and distress. Neurosis leads to impairment in personal roles and functions, social relationships with intact personality.

Psychosis , on the other hand, involves the distortion of reality under the influence of fixed beliefs known as delusions and unusual sensory experiences known as hallucinations. Psychosis is a broad category which include abnormal perceptions and thoughts, and incorrect judgements.

Another meaning of normality is the ability to perform mental functions such as thinking, emotional and behavioral reactions in a productive successful way that fulfill the expectations of the social group and satisfy the interpersonal relationships. An important mental function is the ability to adapt to changes in our lives including adversity.

Our society defines certain behavioral patterns that conform to agreed standards of acceptable behavior as signs of normality. Deviation from these standards is considered abnormal . Societies and cultures may have different standards of acceptable behavior and this makes the term normal culture-bound and involve value judgement. Before 1970′s homosexuality was considered abnormal deviation from the social norms under the influence of the society’s expectations and values, professional biases, and the political climate.

Most people believe they have a normal mind. Sometimes we start to have doubts about normality of the behavior of others or even ourselves. The doubt comes from the vagueness of the term normal. What is normal and what is abnormal and what is mind?. If we mean by mind all the functions of the brain such as attention, memory, language, thinking and emotions, we see quite a wide range of behavior which would not be accepted by everyone as normal.

Even, in physical health it is sometimes difficult to decide that someone has a normal health with all the usual aches, pains, tiredness, dental problems, indigestion, hangover and stomach upsets. Freud suggested that a normal ego is a fiction. A normal mind is possibly a fiction. A normal mind is not only that mind without illness, it is a mind which is able to adapt successfully to the demands of reality and social functions. Normal persons are those who are in harmony with themselves and with their environment. They conform with the cultural requirements of their society. They may have a psychological problem but as long as this does not impair their reasoning, judgment, intellectual capacity, and ability to make a harmonious personal and social adaptation, they may be regarded as normal.

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About the Author

Dr Sabry Fattah is a doctor and consultant psychiatrist practicing in UK. He is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and studied Neuroscience at the University of London. For more articles visit his websites :

The Psychiatric Zone

New Horizons

Critical Thinking

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