What’s Wrong With the Normal?

Taught by: Dr Chrysanthi Nigianni

Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies (STaCS)

Date: TBC

As a society we are haunted by the fear of being labelled as abnormal; a fear sustained through a medical threat: “If you are not like everybody else it is because you are abnormal. If you are abnormal, it's because you are sick” (M. Foucault).

In this session, we will reflect critically on the notions of the ‘normal’ and the ‘pathological’ through a range of critical questions such as: What does it mean to be normal? How has the notion of the ‘normal’ arisen?

For this purpose, we will explore the key ideas in Michel Foucault’s histories of madness and sexuality, where he traces the new imperative ‘to be normal’ in modernity and more precisely in the emergence of bourgeois morality and the development of scientific reason.

Since the 20th century, we have witnessed the rise of critical voices from the fields of the arts, philosophy, social sciences and psychiatry that have come to criticise the imperative to normalcy as part of a systematic disciplining and controlling of the modern subject. We conclude with the question: How normal is the wish to be normal?

For those interested in: Counselling, Therapeutic Studies, Psychotherapy