Abnormality

Definitions of each of the models and evaluation points for each.

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Abnormality
Behaviour that is considered to deviate from the norm or ideal mental health. It is harmful or
causes distress ­ therefore classed as a failure to function adequately.
Deviation from social norms
Society has unwritten rules ­ if you flout these rules you will be perceived as odd.
Behaviours which deviate from these norms make you abnormal. E.g. wearing beach clothes
in winter, drug abuse or violent behaviour.
Criticisms
Cultural relativity ­ what is socially accepted in one culture. Some cultures homosexuality
isn't seen as normal whereas it is in others.
People raise babies in caves for the first year of life without talking to them ­ in Britain this
would be classed as chills cruelty.
Era Dependent ­ What is deviant is a subjective decision made by the society and could
change over time.
In the past people were burned as witches because they were considered evil whereas now
may suffer from mental illness.
Homosexuality considered to be a mental abnormality until it was removed as a disorder.
Deviation from ideal mental health
Based on the humanistic approach and so the emphasis is on fulfilling one's potential.
Deviation is characterised by lack of positive self attitudes, personal growth, autonomy and
an accurate view on reality. These deviations prevent an individual from accessing their
potential ­ self actualisation. (We do this if we are mentally healthy.)
Criticisms
Economic Bias ­ Jahoda's criteria for optimal living are not easily achievable by everyone.
Its harder to be autonomous if were claiming benefits, its hard to have a positive self image if
were poor. This doesn't make them abnormal.
Cultural relativism
Not all of Jahoda's criteria are seen as good personality traits. Autonomy is seen as
important in the UK as we are encouraged to be independent. However in some cultures its
more important to be a collective community. WE OVER ME.
Failure to function adequately
Model of abnormality based on an inability to cope with day to day life. Refers to failure to
fulfil individual social, familiar or occupational roles. Rosenham and Seligman suggested
features of abnormality ­ suffering, maladaptiveness and unpredictability.

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