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Why does society constantly pressure people to conform to narrow definitions of "normal", leading to feelings of alienation and anxiety?

**Conformity is a fundamental human desire**: Our brains are wired to conform to social norms because it increases our chances of survival, as being part of a group provides protection and access to resources.

This innate desire is driven by the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation (Kurzban, 2012).

**Normalcy is a social construct**: The concept of "normal" is subjective and culturally relative, varying across societies and historical periods.

What is considered "normal" in one culture may not be the same in another (Hofstede, 1980).

**Mental health stigma**: The stigma surrounding mental health conditions leads to feelings of shame and anxiety, as individuals with mental health issues often struggle to conform to societal expectations (Stuber, 2008).

**Societal pressure and conformity**: High levels of societal pressure to conform can lead to anxiety, depression, and decreased well-being, as individuals feel forced to repress their true selves to fit in (Krueger, 2009).

**Neurodiversity and stigmatization**: The neurodiverse community faces stigma and marginalization due to societal expectations of "normalcy," resulting in feelings of alienation and anxiety (Mullen, 2017).

**Emotional labor and emotional regulation**: Individuals often engage in emotional labor to present a "normal" appearance, which can lead to emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and decreased well-being (Hochschild, 1983).

**Brain structure and anxiety**: Research suggests that individuals with increased amygdala activity, a brain region responsible for emotional processing, are more prone to anxiety due to the sensitization of the amygdala to stress (Henry, 2008).

**Cultural pressures and anxiety**: Cultural norms and expectations can contribute to increased anxiety, as individuals strive to conform to societal standards (Kashy, 2008).

**Mental health and social comparison**: Social comparison, a fundamental human tendency, can exacerbate mental health issues, as individuals feel pressure to conform to societal expectations (Festinger, 1954).

**The implications of social norms on mental health**: Research suggests that social norms can have a significant impact on mental health, with individuals experiencing increased anxiety and depression when they feel coerced into conforming to societal standards (Cialdini, 2009).

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