Hypernormative Culture Awareness Month

The definition of normality in the industrial era is based on the metaphor of society as a factory and on the metaphor of people as machines. Our laws and social norms have been shaped by these metaphors to a far greater extent than most people are able to comprehend without an in-depth explanation.

Diagnostic criteria for hypernormative societies

  1. A culture based on the an industrial factory model of society that wrongly assumes that all human children develop along a path of universally applicable milestones
  2. A culture that indoctrinates children in cultural techniques and tools via an “education” system based on age cohorts that actively encourages individual competition and obedience within a hierarchical structure of social power differentials
  3. A culture that pathologises the neurological diversity of humans and any interests, capabilities, sensitivities, and limitations that diverge from a culturally predefined set of quantifiable “norms”
  4. A culture that elevates pseudo-scientific techniques of psychological child abuse to the status of remedial “therapy to maximise conformance with social “norms”
  5. A culture that is built on anthropocentric myths of human superiority and technological “progress”
  6. A culture that insists that people need to “earn” a living instead of appreciating the diversity of possible human life paths
  7. A culture with a social operating system that denies innate collaborative capacities that differentiate the human species from other primate species, wrongly assuming that individual social competition is the main driver of human cultural evolution
  8. A culture that allows an Autism Industrial Complex to emerge and become a profitable multi-billion dollar busyness opportunity
  9. A culture that has led to a growing number of existential threats and that is incapable of dealing effectively with any of these threats
  10. A culture that elevates the religious belief in continuous abstract “economic growth” to a law of nature

From the perspective of any human scale culture that has any level of appreciation for biological life, a hypernormative culture with the above characteristics is denying the wonder of life, the complexity of living systems, and the endless possibilities for developing de-powered human cultures.

Industrialised functioning

The three tools of the trade for “success” at the competitive social game are:

  1. persuasive story telling,
  2. the strategic use of plausibly deniable lies – which some autism researchers celebrate as the “valuable” capacity for flexible deception,
  3. and the art of bullying to the limits of what is deemed socially acceptable in specific contexts.

Our current globalised industrialised society is best understood as a cult. All people who are unable to or hesitate to play the competitive social game are systematically disadvantaged and pathologised.

The pathology paradigm ensures that all defective people are identified, and to the greatest possible extent, are corrected by suitable therapies and medical interventions, to get as close to normal “functioning” as possible. The diagnostic criteria for hypernormative societies can be traced back to the implicit assumptions of the pathology paradigm. It is impossible to take most “autism research” seriously, because it brims with circular reasoning and cultural bias. The pseudo-science used to justify pathologisation is a reflection of the exploitative nature of “civilised” industrialised society.

Industrialised society has become increasingly normative in many ways. The term “hypernormalisation”, coined in the Soviet era, and transposed into the Western context in an extended documentary by Adam Curtis (2016), is quite appropriate.

April is Hypernormative Culture Awareness Month. Please spare a moment for all culturally well adjusted people, who are unable to speak about their many fears and the many sources of cognitive dissonance in their lives. We can support them by nurturing shared understanding in a deceptive world.

Ban of conversion therapies

I can not imagine the horrors that some Autistic children must go through today, when exposed to intensive “early intervention” autistic “conversion therapy”, i.e. 20 to 40 hours of what is known as Applied Behaviour Analysis or Positive Behaviour Support. Autistic children are systematically taught that their needs and feelings don’t matter at all. All that matters are the demands of “therapists” (maybe better “the rapists”), and ambitious parents and teachers who are concerned about “functioning levels” according to a fictitious and irresponsibly simplistic model of “human development” that simply ignores the diversity of human neurocognitive functioning and lived experience.

Please join us. Now is the time to act and ban all forms of “conversion therapy”, including conversion therapies that target Autistic children, which are often branded as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) or Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). The time for change is now.

6 thoughts on “Hypernormative Culture Awareness Month

  1. I’m getting an impression that the author didn’t watch the linked documentary…
    Article is about the neurotypical society and exclusion, pathologisation and abuse of neurodivergent population.
    The documentary is about how the society is managed using propaganda that twists broad aspects of reality.
    Funnily it’s also made by one of propaganda instruments – BBC.

    Personally, I wouldn’t take hypernormalization as an inherent NT trait, though I guess the author connects it to the neurotypical tolerance for cognitive dissonance. Rather, I’d connect it to a periods of fall of empires, when propaganda enters its highest gears. That was the case with Soviet Union, that seems to be case with USA.

    • I watched the “HyperNormalisation” documentary end to end. The documentary’s main topic is not propaganda, but rather the complexity of the world that humans have collectively created, and the emergent overall system behaviour that is completely beyond human control. In this world institutions and people are compelled to participate in a ubiquitous game of perception management – of pretending that “everything is under control”. It is in this context that neuronormative people are less troubled by the cognitive dissonance and tend to participate in the perception management much more so than Autistic people.

      You are correct in pointing out that hypernormativity, i.e. impossibly narrow ranges for what is acceptable and contradictory expectations are symptomatic of empires that are in a late stage of collapse.

      • A direct quote from the documentary:

        […] society where everyone knew, that what their leaders said was not real, because they could see with their own eyes that the economy was falling apart.
        But everybody had to play along and pretend that it was real, because no one could imagine any alternative.
        One soviet writer called it hyper normalization.

        I can’t fit this quote to the definition that you use, hypernormal as narrow normalcy.

      • The narrower the rules and expectations of normality, the more they become fictional, as no one and no institution is capable of complying with the rules. What happens instead is exactly the observation you quote. The system obviously does not work as specified or advertised, and everyone is fully aware of the fact. The neuronormative approach of coping with this scenario is to never mention the ubiquitous system failures, and to pretend that everything is working as it should for as long as the “authorities” are pretending that everything is working just fine. The observed collective behaviour is consistent with the results of the Asch conformity experiments https://www.verywellmind.com/the-asch-conformity-experiments-2794996. In contrast, when this experiment is run with Autistic people, many resist changing their spontaneous judgement despite social pressure to change by conforming to the erroneous judgement of an authoritative confederate http://shura.shu.ac.uk/7450/3/Verrier_Autism_and_Conformity.pdf.

  2. I think I’ve figured why what you’re saying has felt somewhat inconsistent to me.
    You’re putting hiper/normalcy in perceptions, belief and behaviour domains into one bag, while to me they’re separate, although connected.
    The documentary focuses on hipernormal perceptions and beliefs while you article is more about behavioural, so they felt disconnected to me.

    Also, while hypernormal perceptions and beliefs are practised almost since the invention of mass-media, hypernormal behaviour is more recent invention and I haven’t fully realised its existence, nor I had a label that can connect those three domains.

    Thank you

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