by Dr. Ken Larsen
I started smoking when I was 12 yo. It was the thing to do at that time. Nearly everyone smoked. Ashtrays were in every home, on every coffee table and end table and bedside table. Cigarettes were advertised with their many benefits. I even remember a TV ad for the cigarette preferred by doctors.
So if most folks were doing it and thought it was OK, did that make it normal? And what were the consequences of this “normal” behavior?
These were just a few of our national figures who died of tobacco related diseases.
I think it would be safe to conclude that, at least in the case of smoking, “normal” was not “healthy”. In fact, the effectiveness of the tobacco industry to “normalize” tobacco use was and still is horribly destructive to the public health of our nation.
You could reasonably ask me at this point “why are you telling me this?”
Our culture has been busy over the last several decades redefining what is “normal.” True mental health and happiness are based on a more solid foundation than the shifting tides of popular opinion. I am suggesting it may be worthwhile to think about the difference between what is popularly considered “normal” and what is truly healthy.
In the late 1970’s an anti-smoking educational effort was launched. My personal first reaction was to see this as an affront and an assault on my personal liberty. Fortunately for me and for many fellow human beings this educational public health effort brought us to a new and more healthy “normal” that did not involve smoking.
Our hope with these blogs in “MentalHealthandHappiness” is to do the same, to do what we need to do to emphasize mental health as a public health concern.