Ep. 157: Roy Richard Grinker - Truly, Nobody’s Normal!


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By Sucheta Kamath. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

On February 18, 1981, Mr. Rogers asked Jeffrey Erlinger a 10-year old quadriplegic with multiple challenges to show the television viewers how his wheelchair worked and by celebrating Jeffrey with warmth and amazement, Mr. Rogers helped crystalized the modern neurodiversity movement. For a long time, normal and abnormal have been the only two concrete buckets cultures have used to determine an individual’s worth and value based on their capacity to partake in and serve the workforce. And by pathologizing physical or mental challenges and various brain conditions, we have deemed such individuals as either subhuman or useless.

On this episode, author of Nobody’s Normal and Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at George Washington University, Roy Richard Grinker, discusses how disability and the stigma associated with it are social constructs and invites all of us to investigate the history social stigma which has led to the ‘invention’ of mental illness. As today’s citizens do their best to fit in the capitalistic world that demands a productive and self-sufficient worker, let’s not forget that everyone can be productive in their own ways and contribute meaningfully if we expand the definition of normal and socially acceptable.

About Roy Richard Grinker
Roy Richard Grinker is Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Grinker was born and raised in Chicago where his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father worked as psychoanalysts. He graduated from Grinnell College in 1983 and received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at Harvard University in 1989.

He is the author of Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness and Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism.

Grinker is also the author of In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull, Korea and its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War, and Houses in the Rainforest: Ethnicity and Inequality among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa. He is co-editor of Perspectives on Africa: Culture, History, and Representation and Companion to the Anthropology of Africa.

He was a 2008 recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness KEN award for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of mental illness” and the 2010 recipient of the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology in the Media award for “communication of anthropology to the general public through the media.”

Website: www.royrichardgrinker.com
About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

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164 episodes