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Definitions of abnormality
AS Psychology, AQA A unit 2-
individual differences
(psychopathology)…read more

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Deviation from social norms
· Society has certain expectations about how people
should behave. If people behave differently to these
expectations the person can be classed as abnormal
· For example, a schizophrenic is classed as abnormal
as they behave differently to what society expects
such as talking to someone who isn't there…read more

Slide 3

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Deviation from social norms- evaluation
Open to abuse
· This definition can be used by people to abuse other's
human rights. For example, Stalin claimed that those who
didn't agree with his ideas were mentally ill, so he was able
to imprison them and treat them, despite the fact that
they just had different opinions to him
Context dependant
· There is no clear line between abnormal deviation and
harmless eccentricity. On its own social deviance can't
define abnormality as the context a d degree of behaviour
has to be considered first.
· For example: being rude isn't a sign of mental illness unless
it is excessive and extreme…read more

Slide 4

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Deviation from social norms- evaluation
Cultural relativism
· Different countries have different ideas of what is
acceptable in society. So a behaviour in one country
could be seen as normal but the same behaviour in
another country could be seen as abnormal. Therefore
it is hard to tell if a person is mentally ill or if they
are just different from what their culture expects.
· For example, Afro-Carribbeans are more likely to be
diagnosed with schizophrenia in Britain due to their
culture…read more

Slide 5

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Failure to function
· A person is abnormal if they can't cope with their
daily lives such as not being able to work or conduct
satisfying relationships with people. There behaviour
can be distressing for those around them on a daily
· For example, if a person suffers from depression and
this stops them from being able to go about their
daily routine then they fail to function adequately and
are therefore classed as abnormal…read more

Slide 6

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Failure to function- evaluation
Subjective interpretation (who decides?)
· Different observers will make different decisions on
whether a person is failing to function, this means
that any diagnosis is unreliable. Also the person may
feel that they can function well, whereas to other
people they appear not being able to function well.
Adaptive or maladaptive?
· Some abnormal behaviour can be adaptive and
functional for the individual as it may benefit them.
For example, some people who have eating disorders
may welcome the attention they get from people
around them.…read more

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