Normal, in what context?

The first thing that has struck me in this class is the way that Parrott defines, explains, and defends her definition of normalcy. Being normal and “fitting in”, per se, is something that most human beings strive for; to blend in and to be, well, normal. But what if being normal is not good? Or what is it’s not everything we thought it would be? In relation to our health, what if being normal is bad? Parrott addresses each of these questions under the scrutiny of stories, numbers and poor health and describes the way that, as a society normalcy is described through the numbers and stories. Speaking about normalcy through numbers requires more than just a mere surface understanding of the numbers, but a deep and thorough understanding of how numbers effect our health and in turn, how we communicate about our health. Understanding the percentages, comparisons and ratios allows us to understand our risks, treatment options and ultimately, our outcomes; and lack of understanding can lead to  less informed decision. Turning to stories is comforting, they sprinkle emotion into a situation where numbers can really only create a neutral voice an point of view. Numbers do not carry the weight of others’ situations, and stories go way beyond the surface, “numbers can’t convey how it feels to feel that way, or what to do in response.” Stories evoke an emotional component that numbers cannot provide. Stories equip us with affirmation and reassurance when faced with a medical decision and they give us an idea of what’s normal based on feeling. The personal relation  of stories is comforting, and when we understand something on a personal and emotional level we begin to gain the confidence needed to make a large decision. It is helpful that we often think in stories, and therefore respond to stories as well. This understanding and response to stories also allows us to form what we can acknowledge as “normal”. Parrott’s vision of how the common society views poor health is surprisingly interesting to me in they way that she takes small truths and explicitly explains them in detail. Most of what she describes is common sense information but, we often take this common sense info and put it in the back of our minds as normal; especially when it comes to poor health. So, Parrott takes one word, “normal”,and puts it under the spotlights of stories, numbers and poor health. Under these spotlights she dissects the word and how we use normalcy to make decisions, cope emotionally, and cut corners when it comes to health. Parrott’s style of writing has me intrigued and her content is so simplified yet mind-stretching. I look forward to what she has to say about communication and how she will continue to take simple ideas and analyze them into big ideas that shape the way we think, rationalize and communicate about health.

 

(Mikayla Hounchell)

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4 thoughts on “Normal, in what context?

  1. I agree with you on Parrot’s style of writing, she’s very knowledgeable and can simplify a topic that doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Regarding normalcy I think it’s vital to address that numbers are only helpful in good context. Even if everyone is normal it doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Good post.

    Jaiden Deal

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  2. Your post truly makes me think about the seemingly small pieces of knowledge I have about health and decide whether I am jaded by what they entail. When you talk about normalcy, sometimes I even find it hard to differenciate what societal things are normal and which aren’t. Your post has really made me realize that being normal is irrelevant when it comes to health. “Normal” is always changing, but the definition of good health isn’t. You really shed some light on this important issue.
    -Erica Bock

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  3. I agree with how you stated that turning to stories are comforting. Numbers can only do so much help in certain situations. I agree with how you said stories go way beyond the surface. In order to know someone is to listen to their stories and history, to get to the deeper meaning and roots. Responding to people’s stories often help us and make us feel accepted hearing a response.

    – Tarah Klenk

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  4. i do agree with the idea that the state of being normal is something that done on a case by case basis, but it is still important to see the importance of numbers. While numbers can’t explain how people feel or the emotional roller coaster they may be going through, it still provides information that emotions and stories couldn’t never provide. It is possible to take comfort in the statistic that a person has this percent of a chance of living. It helps a person come to grips in most cases. I do agree that these numbers are again taking the average of a large group of people so it may not be tailor made to a certain patient, but it can still give a rough estimate instead an impossible idea that person will be completely dead or be completely fine.

    Usamah Ali

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