Psychopathology:Definitions of abnormality

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  • Definitions of Abnormality
    • Statistical deviation
      • When an individual has a less common characteristic than most of the population.
      • Real life application: Helps to define what are normal and abnormal behaviours, used in clinical assessment.
      • Unusual characteristics can be positive rather than requiring treatment.
      • Not everyone unusual benefits from having an abnormal label attached to them.
    • Deviation from social norms
      • Behaviour different from the accepted standards of behaviour in a society.
      • Real life application to the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder.
      • Not a sole explanation for defining abnormality.
      • Norms vary between different cultures so relative to location.
      • Too much reliance on deviation from social norms to understand abnormality can lead to systematic abuse to human rights.
    • Failure to function adequately
      • When someone is unable to cope with ordinary demands of day-to-day living.
        • When a person experiences severe personal distress
        • When a persons behaviour becomes irrational or dangerous to themselves or others.
      • Someone has to decide when a person is distressed, the judgement is subjective.
      • It can be hard to say when someone is failing to function or whether they are just deviating from social norms.
    • Deviation from ideal mental health
      • Occurs when someone does not meet a set of criteria for good mental health.
        • Jahoda:No symptoms or distress, good self-esteem, can cope with stress etc.
      • It covers a broad range of criteria for mental health.
      • concepts such as independence and self-esteem can be interpreted differently in different cultures.


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