Definitions of abnormailty: The deviation from ideal mental health

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Definitions of abnormality: The deviation from ideal
mental health
The deviation from ideal mental health is the failure to meet the criteria for
perfect psychological well-being.
This definition perceives abnormality in a similar way to the perception of physical health and looks
for an absence of well-being.
Marie Jahoda (1958) identified six characteristics that individuals should show in order to
be normal. These are:
Characteristics of ideal mental Description of characteristics
Positive attitude towards oneself Having self-respect and a positive self-concept E.g.
Think their exam is going to go well
Self-actualisation Personal growth and development
Autonomy Being independent, self-reliant and able to make
personal decisions E.g. Getting your own flat and
getting a job to upkeep it
Resisting stress Effective coping strategies and being able to cope
with everyday situations E.g. Slow breathing,
counting to 10 etc.
Accurate perception of reality Having an objective and realistic view of the world
E.g. The world is has its flaws but it does have its
positives as well
Environmental mastery Able to meet the demands of any situation. Having
the flexibility to adapt to changing life
circumstances E.g. Moving house or coping with
somebody just dying
Strengths Weaknesses
Gives an idea of what to expect from an Over-demanding criteria ­ Most people
abnormal person if any of these are not do not meet the all the ideals.
present in someone Changes over time- Perceptions of
reality change over time.
Physical illnesses have physical causes
such as a virus, or bacteria, and can be
easy to detect and diagnose. Mental
illnesses are the consequence of life
experience. Therefore it is difficult to
diagnose mental illness in the same way.

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Cultural relativism ­ definitions of what is
`normal functioning' vary from culture to
culture and are equally valid…read more


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