Definition of abnormality

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  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 29-05-13 15:56
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  • Abnormality
    • Deviation from social norms
      • Standards of set behaviour are set by a social group. Anything that deviates from this is considered abnormal.
      • Social norms can be classified as written laws and unwritten rules of the society
      • What is acceptable and what isn't can change over time
      • Evaluation
        • Susceptible to abuse, things that are acceptable now may not have been 50 years ago (e.g. homosexuality)
          • We open the door to definitions based on prevailing social morals and attitudes
            • Mental health professionals could classify as mentally ill who transgress against social attitudes
        • Deviance is related to context and degree
          • No clear line between abnormal and eccentric
            • Does not provide a full explanation
        • Culture relativism
          • Influenced by cultural factors, social norms themselves are defined by the culture
          • Disorders are diagnosed in diff ways in diff places by diff people. Diagnosis for one person can be diff in 2 countries
          • Culture relativism: the view that behaviour cannot be judged properly unless it is viewed in the context of the culture from which it originates
    • Failure to function adequately
      • This is when a person is not able to cope with the demands of everyday life
        • For example, being in a public area
      • This could interfere with day to day living routines
      • This focuses on everyday behaviour of an individual, therefore it is hard to conclude whether the behaviour is abnormal
      • Evaluation
        • Who judges?
          • Someone needs to decide is someone is failing to function adequately.
          • The person may be experiencing personal distress, and determine themselves as abnormal
          • Individual may feel fine, but they may not be coping. The people around feel uncomfortable and judge
        • Is behaviour adaptive or maladaptive?
          • Some dysfunctional behaviour could be adaptive to the individual
        • Culture relativism
          • definitions of adequate functioning are also related to culture ideas of how one's life should be lived
            • Different diagnosis when applied to different cultures. Standard of one culture is used to measure the standard of another
    • Deviation from ideal mental health
      • Ideal mental state for optimal living, promoting psychological health and well being
        • Self attitudes - having high self esteem and strong sense of identity
          • Mastery of environment - the ability to love, function at work and adjust to new situations and solve problems
        • Self actualisation - extent to which an individual develops their full capabilities
          • Integration - the ability to cope with a stressful situation
            • Autonomy - being independent and self regulating
              • Accurate perception of reality
      • Evaluation
        • No one can agree to all this criteria - we are all abnormal. How many characteristics have to be lacking?
        • Is mental health the same as physical health? Mental illnesses don't always have physical causes
        • Cultural relativism
          • Many criteria are culture bound. Non Western groups: higher rate
  • Culture relativism: the view that behaviour cannot be judged properly unless it is viewed in the context of the culture from which it originates


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