Abnormal? ABNORMAL?

Thanks to Matte for sending in this textbook photo (I think via the APP convnetion). Let me quickly quote the text: Is This Man Abnormal? Whether unusual individuals are labeled “abnormal” and perhaps given treatment for psychological disorder depends on a number of factors, including how abnormality is defined by the culture in which they live, who is most directly affected by their behavior, and how much distress they suffer or cause”


The statement above might have some validity on a small scale, like if the question is whether a person is mundane or average in relation to their peers and community. But to actually call someone “abnormal” and suggest they may need psychiatric treatment for being tattooed is ludicrous.

FACT: Almost every society in human history has used body modification as a significant part of the way they expressed themselves. It’s the core of our oldest forms of religion, art, and societal definition. Along with communication (which body modification is a form of), it made us “special” among all animals. I believe that the fact that modern Western society has largely lost this form of expression — and is pressuring the rest of the world to cut it out as well — suggests that our culture as a whole is sick, abnormal, and in need of a psyche assessment… and a whole lot more tattoos.

That said, I suppose you could use my basic logic here to support rape and cannibalism too. But hey, my great grandfather was a famous German cannibal, so maybe I ought to stop this line of thinking before genetics start kicking in.

This entry was posted in ModBlog and tagged , , , by Shannon Larratt. Bookmark the permalink.

About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Abnormal? ABNORMAL?

  1. The following comments were imported from our old comment system:

    Posted on 05-15-2006 00:37:04 by outmywindo
    Wow. If were that guy in the textbook I don’t know if I’d be laughing my ass of or trying to figure out who exactly to direct my anger at…

    Posted on 05-15-2006 01:49:56 by starspring
    Hmmmm, well maybe not for the tattooes, but I’d like to wonder whether its pathology that drives him to do all the barebacking videos he does? Self destructiveness is indeed a trait in psychological pathology. AT least he appeared in a David Bowie video…briefly…that counts for something, right?

    Posted on 05-15-2006 02:12:17 by glider
    Yeah, I got rubbed the wrong way by the interview where he talks about doing bareback porn and being HIV+, if we’re talking about the same person?

    Posted on 05-15-2006 02:45:50 by xaonon
    “But to actually call someone ‘abnormal’ and suggest they may need psychiatric treatment for being tattooed is ludicrous.”

    Yet the textbook never says that. Indeed, it what it does say is completely correct: that whether a given abnormality is considered evidence of a psychological disorder depends heavily on the culture of the people making that assessment. It does say he is unusual, but that is hardly in dispute; much of IAM and the BME readership could be so described. It’s not a bad thing. That the man in the picture probably would in the past be thought mentally ill for his modifications, but nowadays merely eccentric or outside the mainstream, is if anything an indication that things are getting better.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 02:58:16 by nixy
    yeah, i didn’t think the textbook was saying he was ‘abnormal’ either. they were probably just trying to be hip in including this guy. i felt that they were implying that, though ‘unusual,’ he is not abnormal.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 03:29:29 by jeni
    Actually I was the one who submitted this photo.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 03:33:04 by the_logic_of_crocodiles
    i’d rather be abnormal than normal

    Posted on 05-15-2006 05:04:15 by Scuba Steve

    Posted on 05-15-2006 06:11:50 by gally99
    i think it actually amkes a prett good point:

    while some people may consider someone who looks like that abnormal, maybe they’re not… maybe they’re just like you, but they look a little different…

    Posted on 05-15-2006 08:23:05 by y!


    jeni – I’m sorry!


    Posted on – The problem I have with this is that I don\’t believe normalicy (or obscenity) should be defined by community standards. I belive that truths like this are bigger than just one culture, unless w\’re just playing a word game.

    by glider

    lem I have with this is that I don’t believe normalicy (or obscenity) should be defined by community standards. I belive that truths like this are bigger than just one culture, unless w’re just playing a word game.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 11:48:15 by Martin
    hey glider! you said, your great grandfather was a famous German cannibal? may i ask for his name?

    Posted on 05-15-2006 12:28:03 by silver
    You may be (probably are) right that it shouldn’t be defined by the community, but I think the textbook is more just describing what is. Redefining normalicy is an issue that probably is way bigger than the scope of that class.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 12:54:58 by ____
    I got a different impression from the text.
    I thought they used a picture of a person that looks very different from the majority of society to imply that abnormality isn’t based on looks, but instead behavior and mental stability.

    So the answer to the question, “Is this man abnormal?”, would be: You can’t tell without actually getting to know the person.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 16:59:32 by phazza
    I think he’s cute… And I should be analysed in a text book for saying so :P

    Posted on 05-15-2006 17:27:13 by Kanga43
    All my thoughts have already been said. So all I can add, is that that is a nice chest piece!!

    Posted on 05-15-2006 17:30:55 by oli

    Sadly England is even less toleren.t

    Posted on 05-15-2006 17:37:48 by kat
    One of my psychology books had something like that, but it was making you think about why people do the things they do, not if they’re “normal” or not. That book actually had a lot of people with mods to show differences between cultures.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 17:49:38 by sobriquet
    What would normality be defined by if not community standards?

    Posted on 05-15-2006 19:04:04 by Woz
    Interestingly enough I just wrote a paper on Body Modification, the stigma attached to it, and ingroup vs outgroup bias from a social psychological perspective. It was actually very interesting to see some of the psychological perspectives that academia has of Body Modification, and I recommend that if anyone has any access to online science journals or even just google scholar to check some of this stuff out. Although many science journals have not been kind to our community in their analyses, I think its important for us to be aware of their views, especially Social Psychology. It explains the human tendency to stereotype and the cognitie motives behind it.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 19:37:02 by Woz
    *cognitive Sorry for my typos…I have been writing finals all week.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 21:34:05 by joshua
    to do away with cultural standards of normalcy is to totally do away with culture itself – ideologies of what’s normal and what isn’t are a *huge* contributing factor in establishing what makes societies and cultures tick.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 21:59:55 by starspring
    Glider: We are.

    Posted on 05-15-2006 23:49:27 by Anamorphosis

    I agree with Woz. This book is using a sort of, bait and switch tactic in order to try to get suburban people to broaden their notions.
    That doesn’t mean that there is not an issue with body modification in the traditional psychological field in general. My field, trauma therapy, often tends to view body modification as a form of self mutilator behavior. Acting out internal aggression on the body. Many psychologists out there do not differentiate between cutters and someone who is getting an eyebrow piercing. Reductive, I realize, but true.

    Posted on 05-16-2006 07:31:45 by whatev
    eh, body modification is so mainstream now as to be downright trendy.

    Posted on 05-16-2006 13:16:07 by Kathrine Wheel
    The question is rhetorical, and with an ever changing world the line between the norm and abnorm is blurring.

    Posted on 05-16-2006 22:30:13 by rancidmoshchick
    They just got that book at my high school, it cites BME a few times.

    Posted on 05-18-2006 19:08:53 by joeystrange1
    The man in the photo is named BUD and I consider him a friend. Knowing him, he already has that print out screened onto a shirt and is wearing it to family functions.

    Posted on 05-21-2006 13:05:07 by alrdygrownup
    …Why did he allow his picture to be used for that?

  2. that man is on a father’s day card I got for my father this year. it says “hey dad, meet my new boyfriend… (inside) just kidding, we’re only room mates”. i thought it was cute since my parents aren’t fans of my mods by any means.

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