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The Insanity of Normality
Toward Understanding Human Destructiveness

Arno Gruen, PhD

In The Insanity of Normality, the psychoanalyst Arno Gruen challenges the assumption, made popular by Freud in the twentieth century, that humans are born with an innate tendency to destruction and violence.  Gruen argues instead that at the root of evil lies self-hatred, a rage originating in a self-betrayal that begins in childhood, when autonomy is surrendered in exchange for the “love” of those who wield power over us. To share in that subjugating power, we create a false self, a pleasing-to-others image of ourselves that springs from powerful and deep-seated hopes of being loved and fears of being injured and humiliated.

Gruen traces this pattern of over-adaptation and smoldering rebellion through a number of case studies, sociological phenomena — from Nazism to Reaganomics — and literary works. The insanity this attitude produces, unfortunately, goes widely unrecognized precisely because it is the same cold, manipulative “realism” that modern society inculcates into its members. Gruen warns, however, that escape from this pattern lies not simply in rebellion, for the rebel remains emotionally tied to the object of his rebellion, but in the development of a personal autonomy. His elegant and far-reaching conclusion is that while autonomy is not easily attained, its absence proves catastrophic to both individual and society.

“With compassion and conviction Dr. Gruen carefully exposes the undiagnosed and undisclosed insanity unwittingly accepted as normality… This is a text for leaders and followers, for conformists and rebels alike, for members of the healing professions who seek to repair the destructive fallout from our pursuit of normality and for all who strive for a more compassionate and saner social order.”   –Montague Ullman, M.D.

About Arno Gruen

Dr. Arno Gruen was born in Berlin in 1923 and emigrated to the United States as a child in 1936. After completing his graduate studies in psychology at New York University, he trained in psychoanalysis under Theodor Reik. Dr. Gruen has held many teaching posts, including seventeen years as professor of psychology at Rutgers University. Since 1979 he has lived and practiced in Switzerland. Widely published in German, his other groundbreaking book released in English, The Betrayal of the Self, has also been re-published by Human Development Books. For more information about, and articles by, Dr. Gruen, please visit his English-language web site www.ArnoGruen.net 

  ISBN10: 0966990846     ISBN13: 9780966990843

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