More Abnormal People

How to Recognize Abnormal People coverHow To Recognize and Handle Abnormal People
A Manual for the Police Officer
Matthews and Rowland

Submitter: Another dated police manual we weeded. My colleague left this on my desk with a sticky note, “Who you calling abnormal?” and an arrow pointing the the person of color on the cover. Sigh. We don’t even say “abnormal” anymore, much less “mentally retarded.” Oy. There’s a whole section on “Abnormal Group Behavior,” which includes Civil Protest. The advice is fine; basically keep your cool, but “men in police work” need training, of course!

Holly: We actually posted the 1954 edition of this title back in 2016. Five years later, and this 1978 edition is still on library shelves! (Actually, WorldCat lists it as 1979, but the submitting university put 1978 on its call number label.) The last image (below) is interesting: “Big protests may be a thing of the past. We don’t know, of course. There will likely continue to be protests among students and ethnic groups. The function of the police department is not to restrict or prohibit people from exercising their right of protest.” Hooooboy…just gonna leave that statement right there.

The mentally retarded

Crowd behavior

A final wordA final word


  1. I would have been around four years old when they brought this book back out. The world has changed a lot since then. It’s stayed the same a lot, too. 🙁

  2. I’m not sure I heard the word “abnormal” in 1978, except maybe as a branch of psychology, which I guess is the reference? So if they’d put “psych” in there, maaaaaybe. (And of course Abby Normal in “Young Frankenstein”. But that was the joke!)

    We definitely didn’t say “mentally retarded” by then either, much less now.

    Apparently it’s more important to look cool than actually keep your eyes on the protesters. OTOH, since they seem to be a small crowd looking bored, I don’t know as a police presence is needed. They look like they’re watching a very dull parade. Perhaps they will riot just to have something to do.

    And I join in with Holly’s “hoooboy”.

    1. He may be watching the actual protest, and the people behind him are spectators. Or there are 2 protests going on and he is watching one we can’t see.

    2. This book absolutely needs to go, but “mentally retarded” was still very much an accepted term in 1978. I feel like that term was still in common usage until the 90s, at least; maybe even the early 2000s.

  3. As a young millennial, I’ve never heard “abnormal” used as anything other than a synonym for “odd.”

    Thirded on the “hooboy.”

  4. “If any head is to be cool, it should be that of the police officer.” That’s actually not bad advice, and it might have saved some lives if some of the cops responding to protests this past year had followed it.

  5. The bit about having a conscience is half-complete. Any person may do what their conscience tells them to, but they will be subject to the consequences that come from everyone else.

  6. Damn right. Now that Biden is president, let’s hope we’ve turned the last page on Annus Horribilis 2020 and can spend 2021 rebuilding

Comments are closed.