THIS CONFERENCE is testimony to the increasing interest which psychiatrists and psychotherapists of all persuasions are taking in the normal aspects of behavior. This new direction of research is surely a sign of vigorous health and energetic growth in our field. Sullivan once warned a persistent questioner never to ask a psychiatrist for a definition of normality; the psychiatrist, he said, never sees a normal person professionally, and he can't count on his friends, or even himself, for this rare and ill-defined property. But a professional limitation must have a professional remedy. Now that we are beginning to study nonpatients systematically, with a view to seeing how the normal processes of adaptation go astray, we may not find ourselves so tongue-tied and embarrassed when ordinary people ask us, as presumed experts, to define normal behavior.
Still, despite our current determination to broaden our horizons, many
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