Relatable Sociopathy

Or, is Brene Brown normal or messed up?

Eleanor says Brene Brown’s podcast sounds like a clip from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Dennis says to Mac: “you know, I’ve been having these feelings, a lot. do you remember feelings, man? Like you had when you were a teenager?

Mac says: “yeah dude. I have emotions, feelings, every single day of my life. I have hundreds of them. Every day. “

Dennis looks horrified, disgusted, and a little bit confused. 

If you add wine mom energy to this scene, you get Brene Brown’s podcast.

Brené Brown asks her interviewees questions that she believes the listener is is asking at home. No matter how ridiculous, intimate, or uncomfortable. 

Vulnerability. That’s her whole deal, so that’s what she does on her show.

But as her writing discusses, vulnerability requires disclosure.

Uncomfortable disclosure. 

Disclosure that can sometimes border on sociopathic.

it really pisses me off when my kids say exactly what they’re supposed to say about forgiveness when I’ve done something wrong. Is that messed up?” She asked Dr. Lerner, a therapist that specializes in “forgiveness”. 

I think academia, or any success oriented culture, is designed to make you feel like you’re a failure, to keep you from ever feeling any sort of joy in your own success,” she says to another researcher, one who has written a book about jocks. “is that messed up?” 

Almost always the interviewee nods, empathizes.

It’s normal, but it’s also messed up.

Brene Brown takes her role, her surrogacy for the listener very seriously.

That means that her entire brand, her whole persona — podcast, TED talk, appearance in random movies all center around vulnerability. 

So a mandate of Brené Brown‘s fame, brand, public persona, is sharing, with excellently modeled boundaries, her deepest darkest thoughts and feelings.

She asks “is this normal?”

As a mega famous social work professor and longtime researcher, she had a pretty good sense of what is and is not normal — or at least, what is normal in public, at a certain level of fame, and the risks that she takes are calculated, strategic.

People I would never guess in a million years listen to Brené Brown. People will reluctantly, secretly in my DMs confess to loving her show, or having read a little bit of her books “which… don’t tell anybody, but kind of changed my life.”

It’s because she asks “Am I normal?”

Emotions are so unregulated, so unmentionable, that even basic recognition is far away.

Recognizing them feels so strange, so abnormal in certain spaces, that well — we have Brené Brown, freely, openly, without judgment admitting that she hasn’t felt a feeling in years.

Because Brené Brown is definitely normal.

But Brené Brown is also, definitely, messed up.

Which means even normal people think being normal is messed up.

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