THE POWER OF NORMAL——John M. Reardon 

In an age of instantaneous communication, rapid change, tweets, twitters, "selfies", as well as 24/7 news, noise, and opinion, it is important to be grounded. In this light, the key question is–"What is Normal?"

In the "Science of Living" (p. 41), Alfred Adler tells us what "Normal" is. Grasping "Normal" alters how one sees their life and practice. The significance, and "Common Sense" of Adler’s reading of humanity as "Normal", once internalized, changes life, Life Tasks, and Life Style.

Having allowed the meaning of "Normal" to excite and awaken; several practice decisions and changes were taken:
1) In contrast to the "symptom and disorder orientation" of the "medical model" of practice, the simpler "Normal" as an action in a life movement was embraced.
2) Adler’s clear description of "Normal" made assessing "barriers" more specific and human.
3) This assessing and transforming of "barriers" was used to form a "Wellness Process" that was piloted with 8 individuals. Action within this process demonstrated how when "Normal" was grasped as the basis for one’s unique humanity, many fears, anxieties, and pretenses ceased to have power in the participant’s life.

This experience led to some conclusions. Once we were aligned with participants and had started with and were working through the belief "You are Normal" the resulting assessing of "barriers" was clear, more open, and honest. Further, all activity including interaction, disclosure, psycho-ed, and intervention fit what was going on "in the moment". In fact, the "You are Normal" dialogue was a first and powerful intervention.

What was it about Adler’s stated belief that gave courage, encouragement, and hope to both therapist and participant? Read and hear Adler (p.41–Science of Living):
—the normal person lives in society.
—their mode of life is so "adapted" that–
—society derives a certain advantage from that work.
—psychologically, they have energy and courage to meet problems and difficulties as they come along.

Using Adler’s grounding wisdom a simple assessment was created and used:
Start: "We talked about ‘how Normal you are,’ let’s go further." (Use scale—1=low & 10=high)
—now, how are you doing living with others? (Use scale and describe)
—what are "barriers" to your relating? (Record)
—how is your "adapting” to life’s events and circumstances going? (Rate)
—what barriers do you note to "adapting"? (Record)
—how much do you see others benefitting from your actions? (Rate)
—what are "barriers" to their benefitting? (Record)
—how well do you accept life’s problems and difficulties? (Rate)
—how well do you use your energy and courage to meet life’s difficulties? (Rate)
—what "barriers" do you have to meeting life’s difficulties? (Record)

This simple assessment helped shape both the one-to-one and seminar meetings that were staged. Individual and group work sessions were alternated. This fit Adler’s contention we are unique individuals, and very socially embedded, by nature. The personal claiming and expressing of "my normalcy" created both personal courage, and a strong community bond based on self-disclosure.

Along with the exploration of "Normal", within the first seminar, Adler’s powerful belief in our innately human "sense of inferiority and inferiority feeling" was mapped and shared. The dialogue about these two innately human realities had two purposes. The first was, to set a pathway to claim personal authenticity. And the second was, to contrast such authenticity with Adler’s portrayal of "neurosis" ("Alfred Adler Revisited"—article "What is Neurosis?"). 

The purpose of "neurosis" being to escape the discovery of personal "inferiority". And, to use pretense, distraction, and safeguarding excuses, aggression, and exclusion to maintain a pseudo-Superiority. All of which promote a highly anti-Authentic Life Style.

The net effect of the Wellness Process was:
—embracing "Normal" and "inferiority" helped participants clearly grasp their Authenticity.
—Authenticity was worked on within self and with "the others". 
—doing this work socially created a self-confidence, and a useful "fearlessness".
—participants see that their Wellness and Authenticity are a life long process of growth.

Through this experience, the "Power of Normal" was palpable and demonstrated.

 

–John M. Reardon

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