The Myth of Normal

I am reading an intense and wonderful book by Dr Gabor Matè that is entitled "The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture". My heart lights with gratitude at each chapter for the lucidity of Dr Matè’s conclusions, expressed in such a scientific and rigorous way that will be of significant help to the hundreds of thousands of people who read it.

The main theme of the book is related to the illusory "normality" in which we are living. As human beings, we tend to consider what is healthy and natural to be normal, but in the current culture and society in which we live, the things that characterise the lifestyle we have become accustomed to are neither healthy nor natural. Indeed, they are the exact opposite and this threatens our health by promoting all kinds of diseases. Diseases, which we consider abnormal, are actually our body's normal response to the unhealthy circumstances we live in. So, essentially, modern humanity lives in a paradox, having unknowingly accepted a socio-economic and health model that promotes abnormality and generates increasing depression, despair and disease.

We have conformed to aberrant lifestyles, where stress, competition, lack of empathy, lack of wisdom and absence of deep listening have replaced respect, honour, solidarity, presence and common sense, but since these seem to be the natural rules of the game, instead of questioning them, we adapt by breaking our psycho-physical and emotional balance until our body or our psyche is torn apart by anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, addictions to various substances, or even fatal pathologies.

Dr Matè then goes into details about how and how much each type of trauma affects the evolution of our personality and our health. I don't want to go into this topic now, but rather remain focused on the reflections that the paradox of normality has generated in me.

Our biggest mistake is believing and continuing to believe that society and governments care about the health, safety and happiness of their citizens, when in reality these three fundamental aspects of our lives are our personal responsibility and only when we are able to distance ourselves from what is breaking us and making us ill will we be able to recover the psychophysical balance that is the basis of our health.

What I'm about to tell you may sound brutal, but the age of innocence is over. It is increasingly obvious that the quality of life is degenerating because our health and well-being are not priorities for the system we live in.

We must have the courage to rethink our lives, starting from us, from our personal values, from what gives meaning and purpose to us, women and men of a modern society where we have unlimited resources, where we have the knowledge and opportunities to generate well-being and health for all. And where we learn to make choices consistent with what we believe in, learning to say no to anything that compromises our integrity.

Everything stopped working in the right way a long time ago. But, unknowingly, it is our anxiety and fear that contribute to the expansion of this absurd paradox, because they make us accept what is not normal. The price we are paying is the disconnection from our profound identity, the lack of motivation and meaning that leads us to feel increasingly dissatisfied, stressed and alienated. But if we begin to see the absurdity of the situation we are now in and manage to recover some clarity about ourselves, we really do have the power to reverse this entire perverse pattern. Because each of us is doing our part to perpetuate it and if we stop doing it and instead shift our focus on how to use our talent and expertise to create a truly normal model of evolution, the balance inevitably shifts.

We just need the courage to take this first step. Each person for themself. Everyone in the role or roles they play and, magically, we will have hundreds of resources to build a new model of society where normality will finally be expressed by all that is healthy and normal. As it should be.

(pic credits - Unsplash, Christopher Machicoane Hurtaud)

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