Abnormality definitions

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  • Abnormality
    • Deviation from social norms
      • Deviation from unwritten rules of etiquette
      • Person who sits next to you on public transport when there are plenty of free seats Seen as 'abnormal'
      • "Desirability" such as homo-sexuality was seen as "undesirable" and therefore abnormal
      • Strentghs:
        • Distinguishes between "desirable" and "undesirable" behaviour
        • Takes into account behaviour has on others
        • Can be useful in identifying behaviour changes in individuals as warning signs of mental health problems
      • Weaknesses:
        • Difficult to distinguish eccentric 1 off behaviour and abnormal behaviour. eg. crazy fans
        • Changes of acceptance over time eg. bi-gender
        • Risk of abuse. eg: in Fascist Italy - 17 political executions 1940-43
    • Failure to function adequately
      • Mentally healthy people judged as unable to perform life skills such as eating, washing, working
        • Any behaviour that disrupts with daily functioning (eg forgetting to turn off the cooker) is considered "abnormal"
      • Strengths
        • Recognises individual paitient's experiences, allowing people to see mental disorder from P.O.V of experiencer
        • Relatively easy to judge by listening+ basing on agreed diagnostic criteria
      • Weaknesses
        • Not really a definition of abnormality, just individual's diagnostics
        • No-one really has the right to judge what is "adequate" Patient in question may feel absolutely fine and not realise they "aren't coping"
        • Sociopaths/ murderers who cope fine with life eg: Karl from Corrie and Lucas from Eastenders
    • Devieation from ideal mental health
      • Abnormality seen as deviating from positive mental health
      • Jahoda (1958) listed 6 signs of positive mental health
        • 1. Positive attitudes to self.             2. Realising one's potential.    3. Stress resistant. 4.Freedom. 5. Knowing reality.         6. Adapting
      • Strengths:
        • Positive approach to abnormality definitions. Focuses on good rather than bad
      • Weaknesses:
        • According to this criteria, we are all abnormal at some stage in our lives
        • Criteria for mental health is more personal, unlike physical health
        • How far do we have to deviate from the criteria to be considered "abnormal"? eg. How stressed do we have to get? Symptoms?
        • Many of criteria cultural bound. eg. Adapting. Fussy tourists may find it hard to adapt in another culture


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