Being exceptional is by definition to be out of the ordinary, not normal in some notable ways, and according to some common standards of behavior or values.
Processing information much faster, for example, or being able to generate many more creative and unusual ideas than most people, or being highly sensitive.
Looking in a direction other than the majority. All are abnormal.
But there is also the matter of mental health and classifying our ways of feeling or behaving as normal – or not.
In his stimulating article What Is Normal?, psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer notes:
“Diagnostic labels are proliferating, and mental disorders seem to be annexing ever more territory.
“At the same time, many people with diagnosable conditions are forging their own original takes on what’s normal.
“I have been thinking a good deal about normality lately. It’s a concern in the medical world. The complaint is that doctors are abusing [their] privilege, to define the normal.
“Ordinary sadness, critics say, has been engulfed by depression. Boyishness stands in the shadow of attention deficits. Social phobia has engineered a hostile takeover of shyness.”
He points out there is “A spate of popular books that challenge what they believe is psychiatry’s narrowing of the normal — The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder by Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield, The Last Normal Child by Lawrence H. Diller, and Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness by Christopher Lane.
“The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in any given year, over a quarter of Americans—and over a lifetime, half of us—suffer a mental disorder.
“The fate of normality is very much in the balance.”
Continued in article What Is Normal?
Also see his article There’s Nothing Deep About Depression.
Peter D. Kramer is author of many books including: