Definitions for abnormality

  • Created by: abbie022
  • Created on: 05-05-19 18:57

Statistical infrequency

Statistical in frequency abnormality is defined using numbers behaviour that is statically rare or uncommon abnormal for example only a small number of people will have an irrational fear of buttons and for intelligence we know that most humans will cluster around the same IQ it is considered abnormal if you have an intellectual disability disorder 2% of people have an IQ below 70


The mathematical nature of this definition means that it is clear what is defined as abnormal and what is not no opinion so no biased it can be useful in diagnosis of mental disorders (clinical assessments) such as intellectual disability however unusual IQ can be 130 but we would not think of that as bad just because it is statistically abnormal does not mean it is bad some often do not benefit from a label and can be abnormal but live normal life’s in every other area

Culture there is no consideration of cultural differences at all as it argues that the population of the world are contained within the normal distribution there are variances between cultures and the mathematical nature of this definition not allow for this

1 of 4

deviation from social norms

Deviation from social Norm  Behaviour that goes against the unwritten rules of society related to the cultural and historical context for example anti-social personality disorder a person that goes against the norms who is impulsively aggressive and irresponsible


That it is flexible dependent on the situation and the age a social norm is to wear clothing when working but on a nudist beach it is acceptable to not wear any clothes and it can help with diagnosing of anti-social personality disorder

However social norms change dramatically from one generation to the next and one community to another although this allows for age and situation dependent behaviour the changes in legislation mean that norms vary dependent on the time being gay was considered a mental illness into the 1970s but now it is no longer the case

It can lead to human right abuses as something that is perceived as deviation can be systematically abused that violates human rights can be used to gain control over minority groups  


2 of 4

failure to function adequately

Failure to function adequately when they are unable to cope with everyday living like hygiene or maintain relationships going to work so behaviour that is rational or dangerous Rosenhan and Seligman you can look for signs like no longer conforms to standard interpersonal rule like eye contact person is extremely distressed becomes dangerous to them or others 


Behaviour is observable failure to function adequately can be seen by others around the individual because they may not get out of bed on a morning this means that problems can be picked up by others

It is all about perspective the focus on how someone is coping of this definition may mean abnormal behaviour is missed people may appear fine to others as they fit into society but they may have distorted thinking which is causing them inner distress they hide

Harold shipman GP and he helped about 300 old people to do die able to function adequately but engaging in horrible behaviour 

3 of 4

deviation from ideal mental health

Deviation from ideal mental health abnormal behaviour goes against Jahodas criteria once we know what psychologically healthy looks like if patient has good mental health little distress are rational has a realistic view of the world good level of self esteem


It is a comprehensive definition allows for an individual who is struggling to have targeted intervention if their behaviour is not normal if they have distorted thinking it can be addressed to help their behaviour become normal

The criteria of autonomy makes the collectivist cultures seem abnormal as most western cultures are individualistic the criteria outlined by Jahoda seem a reasonable fir but not for non-western cultures it also set a very high standard for mental health as it would pretty much see everyone as abnormal  

Doesn’t consider different cultural practices which can effect peoples different interpretations of the realistic world

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Abnormality resources »