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A Possible Definition for “Normal”

A definition for "normal"As I’ve continued reading Dr. Emily Nagoski’s “Come As You Are the surprising new science that will transform your sex life,” I’ve happened across all kinds of very surprising new insights indeed.

But very few have been about actual s.e.x.

For example, an eye-popper that crossed my mind right before lights out last night:

Why is normal the goal? What do people really want when they want to be normal? I think that to feel normal is to belong.”

What if our continual ruminations (individually and as a society) on the word “normal” have far more to do with our early clan and tribe days than with today’s oh-so-independent and largely low-risk lifestyle?

What if, to our ancient limbic/reptilian brain that just wants to help us survive, this is what “not normal” translates to mean:

I’m not normal.

= I am an outcast.

= I must live alone with no one else to rely on.

= I will likely be lunch for a hungry predator very soon. 


So in this case, obsessing over whether or not we are “normal” serves a valuable – vital, really – survival function.

We really, really, REALLY want to be normal, because we don’t want to be lunch.

In the same way, worrying about smaller issues of normality, from our personality to our private parts, can perhaps be seen to feed into the greater arena of whether anyone will want to join our clan, mate with us, help us care for the offspring of our newly merged DNA, et al.

I spent much of my early life wishing I was normal and trying (with zero results) to fit in (belong, be accepted). Then I spent many more years rejecting normal in favor of individuality and sometimes even believing normal is a cultural myth.

Now I am starting to suspect “normal” is a biological baseline that once was useful but is much less so today. In other words, normal is neither something to strive for or reject because it is not really relevant or applicable to the kind of lifestyles many of us have today.

Today’s Takeaway: What do you think of Dr. Nagoski’s theory? Could our current-day ongoing interest in normalcy (ours, others) have once served us well when we were a literal part of the daily food chain? Does thinking of “normal” in terms of being accepted or belonging ease the sting a bit for you? 


A Possible Definition for “Normal”

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). A Possible Definition for “Normal”. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Apr 2016
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