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Individual differences ­ psychopathology (abnormality)
Defining and explaining psychological abnormality

Definitions of abnormality

The term "abnormal" means deviating from the average (norm).

Deviating means moving away from the norm.

E.g.: any rare behaviour or ability is seen as abnormal ­ unless we become more aware of it.

3 Definitions


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Behaviour that deviates from social norms is not always a sign of psychopathology. You may
see a man riding a bike naked; this looks like a deviation from social norms, but then you
realise they are doing this for charity. Some behaviours are taken out of context
depending on the…

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Evaluation ­ failure to function adequately


These indicators are useful in determining whether someone has a psychological
abnormality. They would enable to a decision about whether clinical intervention may be


Cochrane and sashidharan (1995) ­ points out that racism and prejudice have a significant
impact upon psychological…

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Evaluation ­ deviation from ideal mental health


Characteristics listed by Jahoda are rooted in Western societies and a Western view of
person growth and achievement. In non-western collectivist cultures concepts such as
autonomy and self-actualisation would not be recognised.

In life very few people achieve their full potential; does…

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The Biological Approach

The biological approach studies the relationship between behaviour and the body's
various physiological systems.

The most important is the nervous system especially the brain

This is because the brain is the processing centre, controlling all complex behaviour.
This means that in theory all behaviour normal and disordered…

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Psychologists tend to assume that most behaviour, normal and disordered involve a
component inherited from the biological parents.

Many people believe that the biological and genetic assumptions are equivalent.

E.g.: Too much or too little of a particular neurotransmitter may produce psychological

Increased level of dopamine is linked to…

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Research into behavioural genetics know that depression is linked to low
has identified a genetic or inherited, levels of serotonin levels, but we also
component in many psychopathologies know that these can be caused by
such as schizophrenia, bipolar environmental stresses.
disorder and some phobias.
Dugs do not always tackle…

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ID, EGO and SUPEREGO can have control in many ways.

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Abnormalities can start to occur if the superego or ID become more powerful
than the ego.

For instance if someone was anxious about leaving the house because of what
people think of them, then the superego would become more powerful.

If you are psychotic (real mental problems) then the ID…

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when they are near a menacing dog. The most common way of reducing this
anxiety is to avoid the threatening object.

3. Moral anxiety involves a fear of violating our own moral principles.

In order to deal with this anxiety, Freud believed that defence mechanisms helped
shield the ego from…


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