Below are three sentences that I would like you to complete with one of the word options offered below. You can only choose each word once.
A child shows you a drawing of a pink grasshopper eating a green cow. You say, ‘That’s _____________.’
Your partner admits to cutting the toe part off his socks to let his toes breathe. You think, ‘That’s _______________.’
You read a story about a genetically modified piece of fruit that has started to grow a beard. You think, ‘That’s ____________.’
Odd – puzzlingly different from the usual or normal.
Different – not alike, separate, unusual.
Abnormal – different to what is normal, or expected.
(Definitions sourced from Heinmann Australian Dictionary)
So we can see from the definitions above, abnormal is technically similar to different, odd and unusual. Experientially however, this term has been reserved to describe deformed, defected or warped. No wonder there is such a stigma attached to it (there is a stigma right or is it just me?).
I could handle being called peculiar, odd, insane, weird or strange (in fact I might take them as compliments) but if you really want to offend me then use the word that transcends all those mentioned and go for the jugular … ‘abnormal’. I may as well have 3 arms, 5 butt cheeks and gills.
So does abnormal belong on the bell curve? Not in its stigmatised version it doesn’t.
The bell curve is the shape that occurs where scores from a large enough sample are plotted as a frequency distribution. This is referred to as the normal distribution where most scores fall in the middle and as the scores either increase or decrease so do their frequency decrease. It looks something like this
‘Scores’ could represent anything so decreasing and increasing does not always refer to intelligence or a similar scale reliant construct; it could refer to extroversion or introversion for example.
My point? We are all on the same bell curve and depending on what the distribution is representing, our location may change. You may be in the 50% of the of the population who we are obsessed with reality tv shows and you may also be in the 0.01% obsessed with only ever eating khaki green cupcakes.
So yes abnormal belongs on the bell curve to represent the ‘less frequent’ group meaning it doesn’t occur as frequent. It’s a game of frequency, numbers and conditioning, not an indicator of how human or defected one may be.
So if you ever get teased about something viewed as abnormal then respond with this: ‘this quality of mine that you feel is a defect is in fact something that makes me unique because not many people have this quality so thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to be different,’ then leave them to their jealousy and go tell someone else how you love what is different about them!