Norma-isms are my unique way of explaining human phenomena.

There may be more as I may come up with them on the spot, or they may soak a little before the concept is fully born. I have fun with it, I hope you do too. By the way, all rights are reserved as this is original stuff from my style of thinking. Normaisms have been copyrighted!  I know, because I’ve gotten solicitations……

Gudenov’s Disease           Thinkitus Exorbitus          Shouldemia         Trauma Brain          SSD, Selective Defensive Dysthymia          Don’t kick the baby!!          Watch where you swim          Effortus Exorbitus The Disease of Control (Abuse)          Shelving your (Abuse) History             Hard Power Soft Power          Get your Ghandi on

Gudenov’s Disease:

A Norma-ism Named after the Russian doctor who recognized the syndrome, this is a very common, sometimes contagious and rather insidious disease. It is prevalent when self-esteem is low or when there has been abuse or intimidation. With this dis-ease you don’t feel good-enough (gudenov) other people aren’t good-enough, no one can be good-enough, you can never be good-enough, or you are too good, others are too good. This dis-ease is marked by an absence of joy, very dim hope and a proclivity towards looking at things negatively. This dis-ease can be accompanied by shouldemia,
pernicious shouldemia, thinkitus exorbitus and effortus exorbitus.

Thinkitus Exorbitus:

This is the disease of thinking too hard and/or too much. This Norma-ism is one that goes around the track over and over and over. The brain just doesn’t shut off. The little hamster just doesn’t get off the wheel. This includes over thinking, over anticipating, over analyzing, over judging and it doesn’t require the inclusion of fact.


Shouldemia is an infection of the shoulds. I should, they should, we should, someone should. Shoulds create anxiety. An especially dire and intense infection of the should is pernicious shouldemia. If you can’t go less than 2 hours without an attack of “the should”, you may have pernicious shouldemia. Get help right away! In fact get help if shoulds run your day, every day . You need a rest!

Trauma Brain:

This is my Norma-ism to describe what it feels like to have a brain affected by trauma. You’ll have to come into the office for my cheesecloth explanation! Trauma brain is when you either have the ruminating thoughts – the thoughts don’t stop. You over process everything or can’t stop thinking about that one thing – the little hamster won’t get off the wheel OR nothing. Absolutely nothing. The eyes are open, the brain is clear – nothing. Trauma brain makes it hard to remember things, even simple things.
Everything gets jumbled or it’s just not there. Things get lost, forgotten, you can even forget the directions to a place you’ve been to a thousand times. Trauma brain is very disruptive but many people
live for years with trauma brain.

By the way, rumination means that the thoughts go round and round. Curiously enough, the same word is used for when cow bring up the cud — food they’ve swallowed, and chew on it again.

SSD, Selective Defensive Dysthymia:

This is a brief defense mechanism function. People affected by this disorder have the option to quickly return to a normal state. For the moment, they are protected by giving no concern to what others think. Dysthymia is a type of depression where you just don’t care. This came about when I realized that if a colleague met me for the first time in my “mommy grunge” clothing, they could have formed an opinion which may not fit my professionalism. So, selectively, and defensively in the moment, I- don’t- care!

Don’t kick the baby!!

You wouldn’t kick a baby would you? No, it’s not a natural urge, but why do people think it’s okay to be cruel to ourselves as adults? When I came to Florida, I had severe tendonitis and was directed to go to workshops by Kato Havas. She was the one who said, “We never outgrow babyhood, we just cover it up.” So, when your self-talk is cruel and harsh it affects that baby inside, when there is self-punishment or physical cruelty to the self, it affects the baby inside…so… don’t kick the baby!!!

Watch where you swim:

Would you prefer to swim in a clear swimming pool, a lake, or a septic tank/cesspool? Surprisingly enough, no one picks the septic tank (think porta-potty tank). Well, what you say to yourself determines where your head is swimming. Do you need to clean it up?? Get out of the septic tank and get into the pool you’d rather swim in. Remember, there needs to be a balance for
the lake and the pool too so things don’t get toxic.

This one came from trying to explain to an 8 year old why it is important to take how you talk to yourself. It turned out to be a very poignant description. I hope it continues to motivate people to be kind and compassionate towards themselves as they strive for improvement.

Effortus Exorbitus:

This is the disease of trying too hard. It is often present with a variety of disorders and other symptomology.

The Disease of Control (Abuse):

I call abuse a disease of control. Warning! It is highly contagious!! This is because there is a “control over” dynamic when someone is trying to control another person, a situation, or a feeling. In the abuse phenomenon, there is also a counter control that gets applied from the victim of abuse or the body that has been abused by substances, etc. Just as putting a finger straight down on a violin finger board demands a counter pressure from underneath for balance, with abuse, the control can come from both directions, the abuser and the victim of that abuse. This can go on uncontrolled for years even if the abuse has stopped as the dis-ease of control gets translated into other relationships and habits. The way out is to control the situation differently by applying self-control. (okay, that’s a simplistic format, because there’s lots to heal while learning to apply the self control, but you have to be a pattern-buster and control things differently to recover from this dis-ease!)

Shelving your (Abuse) History:

Many times people who have experienced abuse have a hard time believing that healing is possible. That’s why I talk about it like shelving the history – putting it in a place of rest where you can refer to it if needed, but now you have the skills to put it back on the shelf.

Do you walk around with a history book about your life on a daily basis? Well, maybe not an actual book, but victims of abuse (all kinds, including substance abuse) hold their whole history with them in most every situation. The brain is still wired to respond to things that remind an abuser, of the abuse or the abuse triggers, and the person stays in that trauma modality, and uses all the other adaptive ways to limp around, pretending to be normal.

In my experience, there is great relief when the abuse is shelved, and then shock when the book flies off the shelf and lands open if front of you. This means something else needs attention. The ultimate indication of healing is when you can get the book down, refer to the history and put it back without relieving the trauma events or emotions.

Hard Power Soft Power:

Many times when people are trying to control things, they use a very hard form of control. When hard power is used, people get offended, things get cramped and uncomfortable (like having to “walk on egg shells” around a hard power person). The hard power user will fatigue because the power button is always “on”. Sometimes a greater mess is made. There’s no flexibility. Like a steel building in the storm, it could easily snap. A tree in the same storm bends – it has soft power. Soft power is patient, observant, and available at full power in the moment. Soft power is self-control. Hard power is often present when trying to control others.

Get your Ghandi on:

The image of Mathatma Ghandi walking through any group of people and never losing his integrity, serenity, or purpose, a true spirit of what I call “soft power” is what I use to help people envision themselves controlling from the inside and maintaining themselves no matter whose company they need to be in at any point in time. So, you need to visit relatives who pick and tease? Get your Ghandi on and walk in peace among them.


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Norma Jo Therapy