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Abnormality is defined as a psychological condition or behaviour that departs from the norm or is harmful and distressing to the individual or those around them. Abnormal behaviours are usually those that violate society's ideas of what is an appropriate level of functioning.

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Abnormal behaviour is seen as a deviation from implicit rules about how one "ought" to behave. Anything that violates these rules are considered to be abnormal.

An example of social norm is politeness.


Can be used to identify people with mental illness. Persons behaviour may seem differently from another. Help can be offered to those people.


Cultural Relativism - Social norms are influenced by cultures. What one culture may see to be abnormal would be seen as normal to another culture. Therefore a person may be misdiagnosed.

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By using practical criteria of adequate functioning, mentally healthy people are judged as being able to operate within certain acceptable limits. If abnormal behaviour interferes with daily functioning, it may, according to these criteria, be considered abnormal.


Gives us an insight to the subjective experience of a mental illness. Criteria gives sense of what it is like to suffer from mental illness. Promote sympathetic understanding to the mentally ill


Many people fail to form adequatley sometime during their life. Could be due to significant stressors in their life than due to a mental illness. Therefore they may be misdiagnosed.

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Abnormality is seen as deviating from an ideal of positive mental health. Idela mental health would include a positive attitude towards the self, resistance to stress and an accurate perception of reality.


Gives an idea of what ideal mental health is. Criteria such as environmental mastery and positive self attitude, can be set goals. Goals can be used when devising a careplan for those in therapy so they can become mentally healthy.


Cultural relativism - Criteria of autonamy based on western cultures and self actualisation which is culturally based. Consequently people in non western cultures would be misdiagnosed due to western applications.

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The biological model of abnormality believes that mental illness is caused due to physiological features. Some illnesses are thought to be genetically inherited whereas other illnesses are thought to be due to imbalance of neurotransmitters. High level of dopamine are suggested to have caused schizophrenia and low levels of serotonin are suggested to cause depression. Treatments that can be used to treat schizophrenia and depression are drugs and ECT. Antipsychotic drugs help treat schizophrenia and antidepressant drugs help treat depression. ECT is only used in severe cases of schizophrenia. A small electric current of 0.6 amps is passed through one side or both sides of the brain and affects brain chemistry.


Supporting research. Studies have shown concordance rates of schizophrenia higher in identical twins then non identical twins. Provides evidence that schizophrenia is genetic.


Drugs and ECT passive treatments. Treatments do not engage patient. Do not want to take an active role in their recovery.

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The psychodynamic model believes that mental illnesses are due to the unconscious mine. Frued believed that a persons conscious was made up of the id, ego and superego. The id is an anamlistic instinct inside all humans that demands things such as a baby demanding for food. The superego is the moral instinct that wanrts everything to be perfect. The ego is the one inbetween that balances the two out. Mentally ill people are either controlled by one or both of these instincts. Treatments that can be used are psychotherapy, dream analysis and transference. During psychotherapy, the patient talks about anything that comes into their mind. when talking unconsciously, thoughts from the unconscious slip into the conscious. The therapist then interprets what they mean. Dream analysis is when the patient talks about their dreams and the therapist interprets them into latent content. Transference is when the patient transfers their feelings onto the therapist. The therapist then brings up why they are angry at the therapist or why they are sad. This therpay can happen serveral times a week over several months or years.

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Treats the cause and not the symptoms. Therapist talks to patient and finds underlying problem. There can be more than one issue linked.


Therapies are expensive and time consuming. Treatments are expensive so not many poeple will be able to take part. Very time consuming and has to happen several times a week for it to be effective. This would mean that only rich people could afford it and so therefore poor people would have to find an alternative treatment or wait on the NHS.

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Suggests mental illness is due to operant conditioning, classical conditioning or social learning theory. Operant conditioning is where an unconditioned stimulus and an unconditioned response causes a conditioned stimulus and a conditioned response. For example a spider may not make you feel fear. However when you come into contact with a spider and hear a loud noise every time you may be conditioned into fearing the spider as it brings a loud noise. Social learning theory is when you learn by looking at what other people are doing. For exaomple if you see a parent or family memeber run away screaming when they see a spider you may imitate your parent. Treatments that help mental illness such as phobias is systematic desensitisation therapy. A patient and their therapist work on relaxing breathing techniques that can be used throughout the treatment and in the future. A heirarchy is devised of what they are comfortable doing and what they are not comfortable doing. They then work their way through the heirarchy, only moving on to the next step when they have mastered the stage before. This therapy can happen several times a week over several months or years. Another treatment is token economy. This can be used to treat people with eating disorders or addictions. For every time a drug addict has a negative urine test they recieve a token. This can then be exchanged for an award such as going out to the parl etc.

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Can help people overcome their phobias. Person with a fear of flying can use this treatment to overcome their fear. The patient can take it at their own pace. They are not rushed into it.


Treats the symptoms not the cause. SDT does not talk about why the person feared the event or object but what they can do to get past it. The patient may develop other phobias.

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Believes that mental illness is due to irrational thinking. The ABC model describes how mental illness occurs. An event truggers off a person's thought process. The belief is what thoughts a persons mind goes through. The person then decides what action to take. For example a person may fail in the exam. They then believe that they are a failure and they are going to fail every exam. They fail every exam because they dont try. The cognitive triad also describes how mental illness occurs. The person, when they have failed at an exam, believes that thwy are going to fail at anything the world throws at them. They also believe that they are going to fail at everything in the future.


Treats symptoms not cause. Therapist uses displacement with positive behaviour to treat the patient.


Symptom replacement. Swap symptoms with another phobia. Have to complete treatment again. Expenisive and time consuming.

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