Defining Abnormalit

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  • Defining Abnormality
    • A deviation from Ideal Mental Health
      • An individual is seen to be abnormal if they are lacking the 6 characteristicdeemed necessary for optimal living
        • Jahoda: PRAISE 1) Positive attitude towards self 2) Resistance to stress 3) Autonomy 4) Intergration 5) Self-actualisation 6) Adapting to the environment
        • Limitation: The categories are too idealistic and could cause more problems for a person as the bar is set too high in what it means to be healthy
          • Limitation: Characteristicmight not be appropriate for cultures
        • Strength: Begins from positive premesis
        • Limitation: How many characteristic needed to be normal?
        • Limitation: Cannot be applied to children as they are not fully autonomous
    • A failure to function adequatly
      • An individual is seen to be abnormal if their behaviour, mood or thoughts affect the way they behave
        • Limitations: Inability to cope with lifes demands causes the abnormality resulting in an inability to cope
          • Limitation: Judgements depend upon experience and background. Most pyschiatrists are middle class males
          • The definition is unclear, there is no clear cut off point between normal and abnormal
        • Limitation:  Sometimes an individual may not recognise that they are mentally ill, so the defenition is a judgement by others on that person
        • A persons behaviour becomes  maladaptive; this is behaviour that interferes with a person's ability to lead a normal life
          • RESEARCH EXAMPLE: Barlow & Durand. investigated various cases of individuals with abnorm behaviour. Billy, 13, no friends. Billy refused to attend socail events and sport. Felt physically sick when asked question in class. Lock himself in cubilce at lunch. Very shy and afrtaid of being embaressed. Diagnosed with 'social phoebia'. Disorder was maladaptive as it prevented him from functioning adequately in liife.
        • Strength: If defenition is applied, people can seek help. It is also the only defenition that looks at how the individual is coping with life
    • A deviation from social norms
      • An individual is seen to be abnormal if their behaviour breaks society's norms, values and standards. However, these standards are era dependant.
        • Limitation: This defenition is too closely linked to the moral standards of the day: what was regarded as abnormal 30 years ago may not be seen as such today
          • Limitation: The approach is defined by context of the behaviour
        • Limitation: It is also bound by culture i.e Trobian Islands (A widow is bound by culture to wear the jawbone of her husband around neck for 1 year
          • Limitation: Most individuals have behaved in ways society dissaproves of, does this mean most people are abnormal?
          • Limitation: The defenition is socially constructed which means an objective defenition of abnormal behaviour that is fixed and stable across all cultures is impossible


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