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The explorations into the enculturation of human beings and its numerous variations have molded the groundwork of anthropology.A field so entrenched in the comparative study of human societies and cultures, anthropology has facilitated the understanding of how humans have adapted to their environments and themselves. When comparing an advanced institutionalized culture to an isolated primitive one, key similarities and differences can de delineated.What is deemed morally right and deserving of exaltation can conversely be seen as an abomination in another culture.Moreover, inherent to human culture are ethical categories of normalcy (societal acceptance) or abnormality (social deviance).Ethics, the grounds for moral validity, are culturally relative to one's society of enculturation. By studying the similarities and differences amongst cultures, Ruth Benedict, anthropologist and author of "Anthropology and the Abnormal," illustrates how morality is culturally distinguished.

Additionally, Benedict asserts that normality is culturally defined, or what is considered normal is different in varying societies.The varying definitions of normality and abnormality can be seen in the phenomena of trance, homosexuality, and catalepsy.In India, the extreme psychic manifestations of trance and catalepsy are both regarded not only normal but is sanctified.However, in many modern cultures, this trait is seen as a deviation of the norm and is not valued.

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Homosexuality, in the contemporary society, is seen by many as abnormal but amongst Native American tribes, men who took on the characteristics and behavior of the female gender were held high on the ethical plane.The institution of the berdache, the men-women served as a tribe's leader in women's occupations, good healers, and as genial organizers of social affairs.From a specific human behavior to a mode of thinking can be an abnormality where an indivi…


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