September 1967

A Philosophical Discussion of Normality

Author Affiliations

Ann Arbor, Mich
From the Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(3):325-330. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730270069011

LET ME first raise a question that will immediately be recognized as philosophical: What are we doing here? How does it come about that the category of the normal has been so much neglected in psychiatry, that we are here at a conference on new directions in research on normal behavior, as though we stand at the frontier of a new territory which one might expect to have been explored long ago?

One answer that immediately presents itself is that this neglect of the normal is a result of training, to which Strauss1 has already directed attention. What is produced by training is not only a set of skills and intellectual resources, but also something very well designated as trained incapacity. There are some things that we cannot do well, just because of the other things that we have been trained to

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