Definitions of abnormality

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  • Created on: 11-01-13 07:27
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Definitions of abnormality:
1. Deviation from social norms
2. Failure to function adequately
3. Deviation from ideal mental health
Deviation from social norms:
Society has standards of behaviour and attitudes, deviating from this can
be seen as abnormal. The same rules don't apply for all cultures, which can
cause issues with cultural conflicts. Rules of behaviour can be implicit or
explicit, implicit are not set rules but are set by society whereas explicit
are set laws by a government.
Examples could be; implicit- being silent when watching a play at the
theatre explicit- the Highway Code in the UK states we must drive on the
Examples of deviating from social norms:
People with schizophrenia often show inappropriate emotions, for
example laughing at a funeral or crying at a joke
People with phobias show bizarre behaviours when trying to escape the
phobic object for example pushing people out of the way
Failure to function adequately:
People with psychological disorders often show an inability to cope with
everyday activities. This is such a common aspect of psychological disorders
it is taken into account using the Global assessment of functioning scale
which diagnoses how severely the disorder is affecting the persons life.
Low marks suggest the person is a danger to themselves and others
whereas a high mark suggests there life is hardly being affected by the
condition. This tells us whether the individual needs help, this would only
occur if they were self-harming or unable to carry out normal activities like
holding down a job.
Deviation from ideal mental health:
This definition looks at the positive rather than the negative as it defines
mental health. Marie Jahooda identified 6 criteria for mental health, the
fewer of these criteria a person meets the more likely they are to form a
mental disorder.
The 6 criteria for mental health:
1. Positive self-attitude ­ high self esteem
2. Self-actualisation ­ reaching goals and developing to your upmost
3. Resistance to stress ­ developing effective methods to cope with
4. Personal autonomy - making your own decisions and being in control
5. Accurate perception of reality ­ living in the `real-world' and not being
over-optimistic or over-pessimistic
6. Adaptation to the environment ­ being competent in all areas of life
and being flexible

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Limitations of deviation from social norms:
Role of context, certain behaviours are acceptable in certain situations
but not other, for example wearing a bikini on the beach is acceptable but
is not acceptable when going shopping.
Change with the times, the acceptable behaviours and attitudes change
over time. For example homosexuality was a criminal offence in the UK
until 1967 and was classified as an illness in the USA until 1973.…read more

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Possible benefits of stress, research has found that moderate stress
provides motivation to achieve. Personal growth and individual autonomy
are western values but other cultures may see it as unhealthy and
Cultural issues, these criteria are based on western ideals of
self-fulfiment and individuality meaning other cultures which don't have
the same ideas would be seen as abnormal to the western culture.…read more


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