Definitions of abnormality: The failure to function adequately

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Definitions of abnormality: The failure to function
Failure to function adequately is the inability to cope with day-to-day living.
People with psychological disorders E.g. OCD, Schizophrenia etc. often experience
considerable suffering and distress and a general inability to cope with their everyday
This definition focuses on individual suffering, thus drawing attention to the personal
experiences associated with mental disorders
Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) stated 7 features of personal dysfunction: These are:
Features of Description of feature
Personal distress Such as, depression and anxiety disorders
Maladaptive behaviour Behaviour stopping individuals from attaining life goals, both socially
and occupationally
Unpredictability Unexpected behaviours characterised by loss of control E.g.
committing suicide after failing exam
Irrationality Behaviour that cannot be explained in a rational way E.g. licking
windows in a public café
Observer discomfort Displaying behaviour causing discomfort to others E.g. Stephen Gough,
the naked rambler
Violation of moral Violating society's moral standards E.g. shouting and swearing at a
standards stranger in public
Unconventionality Unconventional behaviours
Strengths Weaknesses
Most humane way of addressing Personally rewarding abnormality ­ an
abnormality as it is left to the person to individual's dysfunctional behaviour may
decide whether or not to seek help. actually be rewarding E.g. getting
Has an objective measuring system attention from people if you have an
eating disorder etc.
Normal abnormality ­ sometimes it is
normal to suffer distress E.g. when a
loved one dies.

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Cultural differences ­ what is called
`normal functioning' varies from culture
to culture, so should not be used to
judge people's behaviour…read more


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