Some days I am so fed up about my anxious existence. Then I long for a normal life.

Recently I received an email from my girlfriend with a reference to a lecture that she thought I would find interesting. Lecture Recovery and Philosophy, provided by the Phrenos knowledge center. One of the speakers is the philosopher Paul Moyaert, whom I well know. Yes, I want to go there, I thought enthusiastically, my intellectual spirit awoke cheerfully. Immediately I felt a pain in my stomach. The blood drew out of my head and nauseously I got stuck to my chair.

Would like to, but can’t

I realized once again how my anxiety disorder so often makes it impossible for me to just live my life, to do what I want to do and to enjoy it. That is so frustrating and exhausting. After stressing out, falling tears and a lot of support from my girlfriend, I eventually went to that lecture!

Lecture Paul Moyaert

Super conscious of myself, I walked stiffly into the auditorium. I was abnormally early, as usual. I hid my anxious gaze, sat down in the almost empty room and waited. The host was Wouter Kusters, whom I also know, and he introduced Paul Moyaert. When this Flemish thinker started talking my attention focused and my fears faded away.


With fire, he explained that the concept of ‘recovery’, although he intended to think and act less in terms of the disease, is still a word that implicitly refers to what is thought to be normal. Recovery is after all a movement back to acting normal, being normal and feeling okay again. In this way, the recovery movement and the need to recover will still be caught up in medical discourse. A discourse of illness as being deviant and abnormal, with healing as the only way to go.

Criticism on the DSM-V

Moyaert’s criticism on the DSM-V, for example, is that the symptoms and diagnoses are formulated in negative terms. In terms of what someone can no longer do well, that someone can no longer think normal or that the feeling of a sick person is no longer in balance. Each diagnosis is determined from a shortage, a deviation, from what is abnormal and unhealthy. And that is according to Moyaert an intellectual poverty of the entire DSM project. With this we do no justice to the person with a disorder.

What should we do instead?

His message was, briefly stated, that we should try to express symptoms, diagnoses and experiences in positively formulated terms. That we must guide, help and support those with a disorder based on what they do feel, think, act and experience themselves. That the person is helped best based on their own good and bad qualities to live their lives, to be able to develop and grow, and to learn to improve their quality of life. Because of this, people with a condition do not have to feel abnormal anymore or feel excluded from the normal world. This way we can learn to live with our own lives based on our own lives.

My own normal

The inspiring lecture by Paul Moyaert ended and the intermission started. My eyes caught all those people. Fear gripped me firmly again and I wanted to flee. But to leave midway would not be normal. Suddenly I thought completely enlightened: it is fine to leave halfway. That is not abnormal for me. After all, I have to struggle with my fears. And look, I have left the house and went to an interesting lecture all by myself! I did something that I value and enjoy, no matter how hard that is for me. Not having to do what other people find normal. I can confirm to my own normal and just go and leave, go find safety at my home. It’s all good this way.

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Rogiér Cenin

I am a philosopher, teacher and experience expert in the field of anxiety, PTSD, depression, personality disorders and just life! I am coming from far and would like to share my experiences and thinking with you.

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