AQA AS Psychology - Definitions of Abnormality

The 3 different definitions of abnormality :)

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Definitions of Abnormality
Definition 1
Deviation from Social Norms
Behaviour which is anti-social and undesirable by the majority of society, however each
society has different acceptable behaviours. A good social norm is for example being polite,
being rude or being deviant could mean an individual finds it difficult to interact with others.
Such behaviours are considered socially deviant.
Varies as times change, for example homosexuality is acceptable now but in the
past it wasn't.
Judgments differ to which situation a person is in, for example wearing a bikini by
the beach is normal whereas wearing a bikini in school is classed as abnormal.
There's no clear line between abnormal deviation and harmless behaviour.
Influences from cultural factors, social norms are different to each culture.
Disorders are diagnosed in different ways which means diagnosis may be
different for one person in 2 different cultures.
Definition 2
Failure to Function Adequately
Abnormality can be judged by not being able to cope. For example if you feel depressed, this
can be coped with as long as you keep good routine in your life. As disorders such as
depression interferes with everyday life and individual may seek treatment.
A person may only be experiencing personal distress, for example being unable to
find a job. However an individual may be unaware of them not coping, only those
who feel uncomfortable think they're abnormal.
Behaviour can be adaptive and functional for someone. For example mental
disorders such as eating disorders may leads to welcome extra attention to an
Related to cultural ideas of how your life should be lived. Different diagnosis from
different cultures, because of cultural differences.
Definition 3
Deviation from Ideal Mental Health
Marie Jahoda (1958) said we define physical illness by looking at absence signs of physical
health (correct body temperature, normal skin colour, normal blood pressure). Jahoda
reviewed what others wrote about mental health and identified 6 categories:
Personal growth and self actualisation
Accurate perception of reality
Mastery of environment
Not having these indicates abnormality.

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This criteria suggests everyone is abnormal is some repect.
Physical illness is easy to detect as they can cause viral/ bacterial infections. It's
unlikely to be able to diagnose mental abnormality in the same way as physical
Criteria is different to each culture.…read more


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