Individualism Disorder

I felt compelled to put this together after recent conversations I’ve had with professionals working with both my somewhat-abnormal children, and getting frustrated with people not recognising that someone can be an individual and have or not have a neurological condition. Similarly someone can have a neurological condition and yet we can and should still recognise that their individualism and individual interests and ways of doing things, is not automatically part of some pathology. It’s also inspired by two very good articles I recently encountered about questioning what we mean by “normal,” I highly recommend reading both:


Diagnostic criteria for Individualism Disorder:

By Kevin Schoenmakers, via Flickr

A. Persistent non-conformity in at least one of the following:

  1. Refusal to fit inside the middle of a current bell-curve model for normality,
  2. Insistence on holding own views even when they do not match those of the majority of peers,
  3. Interests outside normal gender, age, race, or other societal grouping.

B. The differences result in standard education, health and welfare suppliers being forced to rethink their views and practices, causing disturbing questioning of existing assumptions and current paradigms. May also cause defensiveness, aggression, and resistance to change in those already taking part in established services; these reactions are the fault of the person with Individualism Disorder and therefore evidence of the depth of the pathology.

C. The onset of Individualism may appear at any time, but will often be preceded by birth.

D. Individualism Disorder frequently co-occurs with other disorders, and is associated with being a human being. Individualism is very common among those with autism.

Recommended intervention: Label the individual and their views as pathological, frown a lot and show parents latest bell-curves until parents also frown a lot and look suitably distressed. Make the affected individual change behaviours, speech and thoughts until they all outwardly conform. Success in this program is often marked by the individual becoming sad, disillusioned, and no longer pursuing their personal interests.

The depth of pathology must be marked on a severity scale of Level One (requiring substantial reprogramming), Level Two (requiring lots of disapproving looks – which may be directed at parents if child is not old enough to respond to the disapproval of strangers yet – and social isolation), or Level Three (requiring muttering behind the child’s and family’s back until pressure to conform builds up appropriately).

Under no circumstances should society or statistics be rethought or altered to recognise Individualism, this will only encourage other members of society to think Individualism is normal and acceptable, and lead to a pathological society where abnormal would become the new normal and we’d have to rewrite this whole damn diagnostic manual again.

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9 Responses to Individualism Disorder

  1. Catherine says:

    Totally love it! Have often thought the same thing. Can you imagine having the following conversation. “I’m afraid to tell you that your child has ‘non-conformity’ syndrome. It means he refuses to conform to the requirements to become an economic production unit. I suggest a whole lot of conformity treatment, such as insisting on him listening to a Miley and Justin Bieber, and for goodness sake get rid of that classical music he likes! Make sure he is involved in at least 5 different sports and never give him any time alone, or he might actually think original thoughts, which would be disasterous for his future social life.”

  2. 😀 Such a clever lady…and post!!

  3. usethebrainsgodgiveyou says:

    ” It means he refuses to conform to the requirements to become an economic production unit.” Now that is RICH! And the part about classical music…how did Catherine know??

    This is good. I’ve got something for you, as amusing as it is remarkable, and timely. Judy Endow had them on her facebook page. She has individualism disorder, also, and is also a kind hearted expert.. These young men suffer terribly from Individualism disorder. By cracky, I just LOVE them! They are taking advantage of the autism gravy train to actually help kids feel better about themselves. It’s just common sense plus having “been there”. I joined the group.

    You know, I know Ben will find his way one day. Another thing I am sure of, it won’t be the typical route.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Consider this great post shared and shared, my friend! 🙂

  5. Sadia says:

    LOVE this post. On the rare occasion that someone (only those who don’t know me well) tried to compare my kids to “the average child” I just retorted with “I don’t really want The Average Child. I rather prefer my children.”

  6. I love this. One person’s ‘normal’ is not the same as another’s…. maybe we’re all abnormal, who’s to say?!

  7. Caroline says:

    And society would function really well if individualism and non-conformity flourished and nobody became an “economic production unit”. Yeah, right!
    If you think your child was born this way – has no control over the way they perceive the world, and behave outside of the mainstream – because they have no choice in the matter fine. But if you
    just want the world to spin around your own precious darling, and fit in around him/her, then you’re just going **to create** a child who appears to function like someone with autism.
    If there is some control over the situation ask yourself this: if everybody did what I’m doing would it be OK? If not, then change what you’re doing.

    • ….what?

      Just… what?

      Feel free to come back and explain what you’re going on about, because I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Something about conformity, individualism, and, um, economic units?

  8. Sheogorath says:

    I really love this parody. So brilliant! As I have said elsewhere, True normal is what you live every day, not whatever bandwagon everyone else is jumping on.

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