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Buck Black, LCSWBuck Black, LCSW
A Blog about Anger and Other Uncomfortable Emotions

Am I Normal?

Buck Black, LCSW Updated: Aug 19th 2011

Given that people come to see me because there is something not quite right in their life (or so they think), I see a lot of people asking if they are “normal.” This is such an interesting question. Actually, I do not claim to know the definition of “normal” and I don’t think anyone does. Most of us want to fit in. However, we all do things that are considered to be “abnormal.” So, I suppose that none of us are considered “normal,” for that matter. I certainly don’t consider myself “normal!”

3D figure with question markSince everyone has his or her quirks, this is really a fantastic thing. Could you imagine if everyone was exactly the same? It would be a rather boring place and life’s goal post would be mighty crowded. For those who are really focused on trying to figure out if they are “normal” or how to be “normal,” I ask why this is so important to them. The answer to this question usually identifies the real struggle the person is having.

My take on human behavior is this: If your behavior is causing a problem, then it is a problem. If your behavior is different from many you know, but there is no obvious problem, then who cares? As a result of our society being so focused on fitting in, we often lose our individuality. This is a mighty sad thing. Just think how great diversity is. Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who many believe is the first person to scientifically study sex, emphasized how diversity is so important to every organism. He embraced the differences in human beings and did his best to encourage others to respect individual differences.

The next time you ask yourself if you are “normal” or if you should be “normal” or how you can be “normal,” Stop It! What good is “normal?” If you are enjoying yourself and not hurting anyone, then be who you are. Isn’t life much better when you are being yourself, instead of trying to just be like everyone else?


Buck Black, LCSW

Buck Black offers psychotherapy for anger issues through his practice in the Lafayette Indiana area ( via phone, email, and office visits. He also provides anger and stress management for truckers via phone, webcam, and email at You can also follow Buck on Twitter at @TruckerTherapy or @BuckBlack.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Thanks! - Buck Black - Aug 24th 2011

Willy, Thanks for the comment.  I am glad you are in such good spirits and have such a positive attitude.  :)

Fact of Life - Cathy - Aug 22nd 2011

It's just a fact of life that there is a normal range in just about everything and when you exceed that, you won't be considered "normal".  It is all fine and good to say you should be happy with who you are but it is not that easy.  It takes years and some people never are comfortable with who they are and spend there time wanting to be like someone else.  I know it is not right because in reality, we have no idea what it is really like to be the other person we so admire.  One has to be stronger than most to be outside the perimeters of the normal range and blossom.

Of course you are (normal) - Dr. Willy Holmes-Spoelder - Aug 20th 2011

Dear Buck (Black),

As soon as I saw the title of your blog, I knew I had to tell you this, no matter even the content, but  do not get me wrong, I do take such terrible human stuff rather seriously. I am a multi-disciplined health therapist myself, already since 1989.

Anyway, long before that: one day I am visiting a good friend of mine, Jewish, also one of the leading physicians then in the Central Israelitic Hospital, Amsterdam. I am a Dutch citizen.

I am visiting their g/f toilet, newly rennovated, and whilst *sitting down* (I am a female) I see an enormous poster on the door I just entered. The text goes from huge to rather small (like being tested by the eye-doctor), and of course I am bending forward, the door about 3 meters from where I am sitting, wishing to read the small text at the end as well.

Already then I grinned: the devil - my friend, a typically Amsterdam Jewish sense of humor, hoping you fall forward, which indeed nearly happened.  

The text on the door: DID YOU EVER SEE A  *N*O*R*M*A*L* ?? person - and - smaller - did you like it?? ____________________________________________

Did I feel laugh!!

As soon as I joined the people I was with again, actually to discuss an extremely serious case, and how to deal with it:

My friend looked up, well knowing and knowing me, that what he had *constructed* in the g/f toilet, also being used during hours by his *normal* patients away from the hospital, at least had not been *wasted* on me.

I grinned, he raised his eyebrows ?? I nodded, again ?? No, I haven't, I said and yes I liked it (the new facility I meant). The others with the dreariest of problems stopped, looked at me, than at him, even suspiciously:

What did you see? And what was so nice about that!?

Well, I pondered, well -best you go and see for yourself, guys. Go! And they thundered down the stairs.

My friend and I stayed behind in anticipation, they climbed up again, we waited and then WE ALL ROARED, also the ones only 5 minutes earlier, angry, teary, insecure.

Pff, what a relief, at once the air had cleared, we laughed, drank one more of his famous numbered wines, and eventually left with our spirits *soaring*.

Buck, I remember it so well because we felt so *relieved*! And the point of course is, I learned myself: A joke, a pun, laughing those black moods away, and together we did that - wonderful.

Not anyone on our planet with that particular sense of humor that most Jewish folks from my home-town Amsterdam possess and I so love and admire.

The people LOVED him (Dr. Joop), he had the same approach when he was visiting his patients on his twice-daily rounds through the hospital.

It not mean that he did not have any problems himself, or that he did not feel exhausted, or sad seeing a terminally ill patient, Dr. Joop just knew, had the *knack* to make people feel GOOD, special.

Sometimes *nothing* seems to work with such negatively people, stuck in their own miserable going around and around.

I just had a case in point even: no matter what I tried to contribute - the person concerned kept going around, around in circles. I would have preferred to knock him over the head, instead I started a different approach and eventually, with some patience and some *fun* words and quircks, I got the man at least a bit more on track, for himself, within his own *self*, his own existence .

Then I saw your blog, which must have been rather meant for me, and for me to want to write my bit.

Bye, Willy

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