July 09, 2020   2:57pm

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What you think is “twisted” may be “normal”

If you believe Psychology Today, taboo impulses may have their own logic and benefit. In the article “Typically Twisted,” author Kathleen McGowan writes about fantasies, feelings and habits that may cause you anguish, but should possibly be appreciated. So why do so many people obsess over not being normal?

According to a professor of psychology at Wake Forest University Dustin Wood, “Paying attention to norms is how we stay in step with social expectations. Normality is the barometer people use to figure out if they’re acting the way they should be.”

Wood has surprisingly discovered that “normal is actually extraordinary…an unusual combinations of traits that all have to do with being extra likable…less neurotic…easy to get along with…respectful of propriety, and highly responsible. Normal people may be nicer than average, but they also have character traits that aren’t universally appealing…not adventurous…not above average in intelligence, nor outgoing. Truth be told, a lot of our best qualities are unusual…off-key qualities often have their own reason for being. They can even have unexpected upsides.

Want some examples? The article goes on to talk about:

“The Slacker’s Lament: I have no ambition
“Our striver-obsessed society looks down on those who just float along without a master plan. And laziness often masks something more troubling: depression, frustration, or a lack of self-efficacy…But many may possess confidence and wherewithal aplenty: they’re just lacking the will to succeed and the stick-to-it-iveness associated with career success…The critical issue is whether a given behavior is self-endorsed rather than pressured and compelled…a person who has chosen not to pursue very many goals may be quite content if that decision reflects his core personality and values.

“The Dead Zone: I have a morbid sense of humor.
“It seems ghoulish, but joking about danger and deal in some situations is a crucial coping mechanism, not a sign of mental instability.”

“Not Tonight Dear — Or Ever: I’m not into sex.
“For some…not wanting sex is a permanent state of being…while asexuals are certainly outliers, they don’t necessarily have a problem unless they see it that way…If the person has the capacity to form romantic relations with individuals and does so, or if she or he doesn’t form romantic relationships but is content, then nothing’s really wrong.”

“Quirky, Kinky, or Creepy? I have unusual sexual fantasies.
“One international poll found that 20 percent of adults say they’ve experimented with masks, blindfolds, or other bondage gear and 35 percent have tried anal sex…A practice that is harmful, exploitative, or dangerous — such as pedophilia or public flashing — is deemed abnormal…human-sexuality experts have a general rule: Unusual sexual practices are mostly harmless as long as they are part of a range of sexual responses…A little bit of kink is a good thing if it spurs open-mindedness and a spirit of adventure. But when an object or ritual becomes more important than the living, breathing partner, it gets in the way of a relationship and of sexual fulfillment.

“An Infinite Loop: I’ve got a torturous secret.
“A lot of innocent-looking people ar ehiding impressive peccadilloes: drug addicitions, health problems, financial troubles, infidelty…More than 70 percent of married men and women keep stashes of money that a partner doesn’t know about, one poll found…The simpole act of concealing the truth bestows a lot of emotional power on a secrets…You become obsessed, and your shame fuels your obsession…The effort of keeping a secret actually prompts you to think about it more…Confessing can weaken the sway…there’s always postsecret.com. You might find that someone else is carrying the same burden as you–and suddenly, it will seem a little less horrifying and a little more human.

“Solitude is Bliss. I like to be alone.
“…modern loners have a bad reputation as misfits and misanthropes…[but] some people are natural introverts who simply crave peace and time to themselves…not everybody’s a people-person.”

“Mommy’s Favorite: I love one child more than the other.
“People strive to be fair, just, and equitable with each of their children. But in their heart of hearts, many parents harbor stronger feelings for one of their offspring than for the others…In research, adult children were often wrong when they guessed who their mother’s favorite was…adult children nearly always agreed that one child among the family was favored…most research into “parental differential treatment” suggests that as long as the children perceive the unequal treatment as nonetheless fair, it won’t damage familial relationships. Kids understand that [they] have different needs…so family psychologists encourage parents to explain why they might offer one child more support, or give one more freedom — even though it’s the last thing most parents want to discuss.”


Psychology Today, Typically Twisted, by Kathleen McGowan

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