The Tyranny of the Normal: An Anthology

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Carol C. Donley, Sheryl Buckley
Kent State University Press, 1996 - Literary Collections - 387 pages
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Most cultures ostracize people who do not fit within their norms. They pressure abnormal people to change their appearance, fix what bothers other, or stay out of sight--a pressure Leslie Fiedler has named "The Tyranny of the Normal." This anthology examines the experiences of those who live outside social norms for attractiveness, size, and shape; it also explores the reactions of "normal" people to those who seem grotesque. Among the questions raised are who decided what is normal and abnormal; who has the right or authority to decide what efforts, if any, should be made to normalize someone; and who should pay for it--be it plastic surgery or the manipulation of human genes.

The first section includes essays and articles written by health care professionals about the treatment of those with eating disorders or physical deformities. Part two contains more than 40 stories, poems, and plays about three main groups of abnormalities: weight, including obesity and anorexia nervosa; height, particularly dwarfism; and deformity or disfigurement. Major writers from Kafka and Poe to Welty and Morrison explore the conflicts of their characters as they struggle with self-image and otherness.

One of the purposes of this anthology is to encourage those working or living with others outside the norms to be more inclusive and understanding. They will find this insightful collection a valuable resource.

 

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Contents

Myths and Images of the Secret Self
11
Deformity Reconsidered
27
Commentary
53
A Response to The Quasimodo Complex
59
What Role for the Clinician
76
GOLDwYN
85
Introduction to The Mismeasure of Woman
111
Anorexia Nervosa
121
Dwarf House
215
The Song the Dwarf Sings
224
The President
236
HopFrog
247
Beauty
259
The Anatomy of Desire
265
From The Elephant
281
JoHN UPDIKE
286

Washing Your Feet
143
Weight Bearing
151
Fat People at the Amusement Park
163
The Traveler
178
From the Diary of an Anorexic
192
The Pull
199
MONICA WOOD
201
Song For My
305
Just Another Year in Chronic
327
From The Hunchback of Notre Dame
349
The Diary of an Infidel
362
About the Authors
375
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

Carol Donley is professor of English and codirector of the Center for Literature, Medicine, and Health Care Professions at Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio. She is the coauthor of Einstein as Myth and Muse (Cambridge University Press, 1986), and coeditor of Recognitions: Doctors and Their Stories (Kent State University Press, 2002).

Sheryl Buckley is an anesthesiologist in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. She is coeditor, with Carol Donley, of What's Normal?: Narratives of Mental and Emotional Disorders (Kent State University Press, 2000).

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