Whatever our life experience, nearly all of us wonder at some time or other whether we are normal. Those of us bearing the physical and emotional scars of child abuse or domestic violence are especially sensitive on this topic. We feel responsible for the scars, as if they were somehow character flaws.
The term “normal” suggests that differences from average are defects, even the scars resulting from trauma. In reality, “normal” covers an enormously wide range of behavior, differing from culture to culture, and age to age.
Chances are that all the following would view themselves as normal: polygamists, monks, strippers, con men, psychics, lion tamers, astrologers, tattoo artists, arms dealers, cave divers, UFO enthusiasts, and Wall Street bankers.
We have different tolerances for risk from one another. We have different appetites from one another. We have different aptitudes and interests from one another. And we adhere to different moral standards from one another.
The test for hospital release is posing no reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to self or others. A more relevant inquiry for abuse victims might be whether a particular behavior is effective for achieving their intended goals or not.
If it is done or conceived of by humans, it is human. Not necessarily laudable or even legal, but human.
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