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Danielle's picture

Setting a Standard for “Broken Brains”?


While an interaction between brain and culture exists, we must not neglect the fact that the brain is simultaneously creating culture. Culture is an individual perception that is unique for each person. An individual's method of perceiving the environment for which they interact with, leads to the diversity of opinion and functioning noticed among the human race. Some people who have, what some might call a “disability”, might feel that this diagnosed “disability” does not affect their daily functioning. Other individuals might find that their presumed “disability” greatly hinders their functioning. Further, how a person perceives their level of functioning is simply a reflection of how the culture wants you think. How do you define a baseline level of mental functioning? 

 Since each brain perceives a given “disability” differently, it is inaccurate to assume that one set of standards as noted in the DSM would accurately diagnose and treat all people with a “mental illness” or a “disability”. Culture defines and sets boundaries according to a standard; we feel that everything must be grouped into a limited number of categories. Since there is such a diversity of brain functioning and perceptions, grouping individuals based on differences and the concept of one group being superior to another, is unjustified. 


The diversity of brain functioning makes doctors, therapists and experts of the brain want to categorize individuals based on types of “broken brains”. The culture sympathizes and feels the need to patronize those individuals who function differently than the majority. One might ask if we really know how the “ideal” or “standard” brain functions. Are people simply hiding under a false persona to prevent being categorized as “broken”? The DSM was created to identify those individuals who do not follow the norm or the majority of functioning individuals. What is the majority or normal level of functioning, and why does the human race need to find a norm? Our culture feels the need to create standards and similarity among individual people who have different types of brains. Even though we think we understand the category of “normal” functioning individuals, it is inaccurate to think that we really know what normal is.


 I think to start understanding “broken brains” we need to step back and erase all pre-understood and pre-decided notions of what we as a people consider to be normal.


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