Abnormality revision


Definitions of Abnormality

Deviation from social norms:

- These are implicit rules about how we ought to behave - violation of these rules is considered 'abnormal' (e.g. talking to ourselves in public)

- What is considered a norm vary's in cultures 

- An example of this definition: Schizophrenia - against social norms to hear voices in your head and talk to yourself in public.


P - social norms change over time

E- homosexuality was considered a mental dissorder in the DSM until 1973

E - this questions validity and defining what behaviours can be classed as abnormal

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Definitions of Abnormality

Failure to function adequately:

- 'functioning adequately' is being able to function normal social duties.

- if a persons behaviour interferes with their ability to operate within those limits, it is considered abnormal. 

- for example, Anorexia Nervosa causes disruption to work, sleep and study.


P - What is adequate in one country may differ in others

E - in the UK people tend to keep emotions to themselves, however in other countries they may display different kinds of grief openly, which is not at all abnormal

E - therefore this definiton is an ethnocentric diagnosis of mental dissorders

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Definitions of Abnormality

Deviation from ideal mental health (JAHODA 1958):

1. Self actualisation - a person must become the best that they can possibly be 

2. Positive view of self - the person must have a feeling of self worth

3. Autonomy - must not have to rely on others for everything

4. Accurate view of reality - persons view of world must not be dissorted in any way

5. Environmental adaptability - ability to change behaviour to make in suit certain environments 

6. Resistance to stress - able to deal with regular strains and stresses of life

JAHODA talked about normality being a state of positive mental health

P- a number of the criteria are difficult to reach

E- Actualisation in particular is reached by few people in life

E- Therefore if this definition is taken literally, most would be classified as abnormal

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The Biological Approach

ALL mental disorders have a physical cause 

Infection - mental illness is caused by a virus or bacteria 

Genetics - mental illness is the result of an inherited gene e.g. relatives of Schizophrenics are 18 times more likely to be diagnosed with Schizophrenia

Biochemistry - disorders may be explained in terms of an imbalance in brain chemicals

Neuroanatomy - changes in brain structure may cause abnormality e.g. brains of Schizophrenics tend to be smaller and have enlarged ventricles 

Research Support: Holland (1968)

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The Biological Approach

Holland (1968)

Aim: investigate wether there is a genetic basis for Anorexia

Procedure: The Pp were 45 twins, at least one twin had Anorexia.

30 female twin parts (16 MZ and 14 DZ) 4 male pairs and one set of make triplets

Data was collected on each twin/triplet and checked for concordance rates 

They were interviewed on eating habits, body satisfaction and ED relatives 

Findings: MZ = 56% DZ = 5%

none of the male co-twins had Anorexia (discordant) and the anorexic male twin tended to have been disadvantaged and was the less dominant twin.

Conclusion: As the concordance rate was not 100% (not purely genetic) this study suggests that there is a genetic vulnerability for Anorexia which is triggered by environmental factors.

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The Biological Approach

Evaluating the Biological Approach: 

P - the model is supported by research into the genetic basis of abnormality 

E - Holland found a  56% concordance rate with MZ twins for Anorexia and only 5% for DZ twins, suggesting that there is a genetic vulnerability to anorexia.

E - therefore suggests the model is reliable and valid

P - the approach also has a number of successful theraputic applications 

E - chemotherapy is the most common form of treatment for psychological disorders in the UK

E - as the treatments are effective this must therefore suggest that the approaches beliefs about the causes and consequent implications are correct

P - however, although treatments are successful it is difficult to indicate cause and effect

E - High concordance rates between parents and children with disorder may not be due to genetic inheritance but social learning instead

E - therefore more research is needed to be able to draw consitent and valid conclusions

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