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  • Created by: chaz
  • Created on: 22-05-09 17:57

limitations of abnormality

Criticisms of these definitions are:

Statistical Infrequency: Does not account for social acceptability or type of behaviour. For example, very high intelligence is abnormal because it is rare. Also, eccentric behaviour that is rare but acceptable is also abnormal.

Deviation from Social Norms: Social norms vary from one society to another and standards change. For example, in our society, it used to be considered far more abnormal to be an unmarried mother than it is now.

Failure to Function Adequately: Apart from social dysfunction, this also includes being in a disabling state of distress. Problems include the fact that some mental disorders do not cause distress and that sometimes it is normal to be distressed. Withdrawal from society may be mental disorder, but not necessarily.

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Deviation from Ideal Mental Health: The standards for ideal mental health are generally difficult to measure and so demanding that most people fail to meet them anyway!

Cultural relativism: Some disorders are specific to some cultures, or found in some populations more than others. It is difficult to say whether the disorders are really less common amongst some people, possibly for genetic reasons, or whether there are differences in diagnosis.

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assumptions and treatments


Assumptions on Causes


Biological (medical)

Physical causes, (genetics, biochemistry)

Somatic - drugs

Psychodynamic (psychoanalytical)

Unresolved emotional conflicts in early life, now repressed.

Talking to bring out and work through unconscious conflicts.


Abnormal behavior is learned by association and reinforcement

Focus on learning new responses to situations


Faulty thinking distorts perception of things

Challenging the way a person sees themselves

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