The Virtues of Being Twisted

2008_07 Kathleen McGowan in Psychology Today:

A man trolls through web sites, searching for someone to fulfill his momentary fantasy. Waves of anticipation—he may find what he wants!—alternate with a nagging fear that he will be exposed as a sick freak. What would his friends and family think of him if they knew? A woman looks at her child, meanwhile, and feels crushed with disappointment. Her heart just doesn’t swell for him the way it does for his sister. She anxiously tries to hide her preference, all the while berating herself for being a terrible mother.

Feelings or habits that are out of the ordinary are great fodder for art and entertainment, but they can cause anguish to those who can’t understand—and don’t appreciate—their own outre tendencies. Of course some people are proud to be twisted, and even cultivate strangeness: Half-blue-eyed, all-pasty-white Goth rocker Marilyn Manson surely doesn’t spend much time moping around, wishing he were just like everybody else. But why do many others obsess over not being normal?