Public hearing

Normality and Normalisation Processes – Reflections from Psychiatry, Phenomenology and Media Studies

20. October 2023, 9:30 am - 11:30 am
16. November 2023, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm



What is considered “normal” is by no means fixed, but depends on the context at hand and is in part subject to considerable change. The German Ethics Council’s working group on “Concepts of Normality in the Life Sciences” explores the processes and power relations that play a role in the (more or less controlled) emergence and decline of concepts of normality, and their manifold connections with ethical and legal issues.

As a first step, the Ethics Council consults three experts on this topic. They provide perspectives from phenomenology, psychiatry and media studies on normality and normalisation processes, and they draw connections to selected fields of application in the life sciences.

Questions to be addressed include the following:

  • From a phenomenological perspective, which implications arise for body-related concepts of normality, taking particular account of controversial issues such as gender, age/ageing and body weight?
  • What dynamics of normalisation can be observed with regard to self-determination?
  • How do different players in society deliberately influence concepts of normality, and what role do the media in particular play in this?
  • What are the general difficulties that arise in describing psychological normality, and particularly when it comes to determining “pathological deviations from the norm” in the realm of the mind?
  • Under what conditions are deviations from normality – for example with regard to the neurodiverse spectrum – not considered as negative, but rather as positive?
  • What/who decides on how normalisation processes are perceived and how can conflicts between differing or even opposing concepts of normality be resolved?

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