Defining Abnormality


Deviation from Ideal Mental Health


  • Self actualisation
  • Self confidence
  • Accurate perception of reality
  • Adaptability to environment
  • Autonomy
  • Resistance to stress

If any of these categories are missing then she claims that they have a mental illness.


  • More positive approach
  • Could create therapeutic aims


  • Have to have above average functioning - over-demanding, most people would be abnormal
  • Culturally Relative - based on Western views
1 of 3

Failure to Function Adequately

A scale is used to measure how far a person is unable to cope with everyday life. 

It states that a clear change in the pattern of behaviour is sign of a mental disorder.


  • Relies on sufferers judgement
  • Cultural relativity is not an issue - the principle of being unable to function adequately is applicable in all different cultures.


  • Failure to function adequately may not be due to a psychological disorder - for example, poverty and discrimination may stop a person from being able to have a job or support a family. 
  • Context dependent - what may be seen as inappropriate behaviour in some situations may be perfectly rational in others.
  • Subjective Interpretation.
2 of 3

Deviation from Social Norms

Any behaviour that does not follow accepted social patterns or rules. If a person does not adhere to these rules then they can be seen as abnormal

There are implicit norms (unwritten rules within a social group, for example, having to wear clothes in public), and explicit norms (which are written as law, for example, you cannot murder someone). 


  • Looks at the impact of an individual's behaviour upon other people.
  • For the greater good of society.


  • Subjective
  • Subject to abuse
  • Social norms change over time.
3 of 3


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Abnormality resources »