Summary Of Andrew Solomon's 'An Elephant Crackup'

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Redefining “Normal”
We are not as unique as we think we think we are. Instead we are a copy consisting of pieces of all that is around us. Anything we believe that we are is only a reflection of those who have influenced us. This is because we, humans, are wired to share ideas and seek for similarities with with the people that surround us, which then ends up producing a single idea of what normal is. Charles Siebert discusses the change of accepted normal human behavior towards elephants in his “An Elephant Crackup”. Whereas, Ethan Watters, wrote “The Mega-Marketing of Depression in Japan” to showcase how the norm for Japanese culture impacted many of its people in their mental distress. Lastly, “Son” by Andrew Solomon contributes to the
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During the human elephant conflict, people feared elephants and in turn killed many of them. This conflict was caused because of a lack of understanding from humans and from the communities accepted idea of what constitutes normal behavior towards the elephants. So even if someone did not necessarily believe that elephants were harmful, after hearing people talk about how dangerous they can be, they were influenced to also believe the same way. But once some people in the community began to further observe and justify the actions of the elephants, people began to change their behavior towards them. Instead of being scared of the elephants showing violent outlashes, people like Siebert and Gay Bradshaw began to take part in methods to heal these traumatized elephants. Bradshaw says, “‘Now humans can participate actively in the healing of both themselves and nonhuman animals. The trust and the secretary are the beginning of a mutually benefitting interspecies culture’” (Siebert 363). Once it was normalized that the violent elephants were just in need of help, sanctuaries became a popular place to send these elephants. So, the normalization of elephant behavior promoted a better relationship between humans and elephants. Human relationships with others, whether it’s with animals or with other humans is heavily dependent on accepting one another’s norm. If …show more content…
This common idea will then change the overall mental states of the people living in that specific community. For example, if a community deems a health problem to be normal or typical issue within the community, they will treat the person like someone who needs help and show sympathy towards that individual. Otherwise, the community might shun the health problem or deem it to be abnormal, and so, the person with the health issue will not want to understand their health problem, hide it from others, or just be seen as an outcast. The overall physical and mental state of an individual is going to be affected by whether society deems their condition normal or not. Ethan Watters, for example, discusses the matter of depression in Japan. Due to the cultural values in Japan, its people did not want to accept that they could have depression in the way that their society defines depression. Japanese people did not want treatment for depression because they believed that it was too severe to be an illness that many of its people would have. This belief roots from their serious, diligent and thoughtful culture which actually encourages them to be melancholy. So in order for the pharma companies to sell their drug, they knew they would have to redefine the common assumption of what depression was in Japan.

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