Definitions of Abnormality

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  • Created by: Moldred
  • Created on: 19-04-16 20:05

Statistical Infrequency

Statistics are used to represent the typical value in any set of data. Statistics inform us of what norms are, whats typical e.g typical age for women to have their first child. If we can define what is the most common, we can see what is abnormal.

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Failure to Function Adequately

Not being able to cope with everyday life such as eating regularly and washing ect. Not functioning adequately causes distress and suffering for the individual and/or others. People with schizophrenia generally lack awareness that aything is wrong but their behaviour may be distressing to others. 

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Deviation from Social Norms

There aremany norms created by a group of people- social norms in any society there are acceptable behaviours that are set by social groups. Anyone who deviates from these social nprms are considered abnormal. Some rules about what is not acceptable behaviour are implicit where as others are policed by laws. For example, Homosexuality was classed as abnormal and a mental illness.

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Deviation from Ideal Mental Health

Jahoda pointed out that we define physical illness by looking at the absense of signs of physical health and suggested we should do the same with mental illness. Jahoda concluded a review on what makes good mental health and found these are the characteristics that make us happy and competent. 

There are 6 catagories:                                                                   PRAISE

  • Personal Growth (self actualisation - to reach ypur full potential)
  • Reality perception (knows whats real)
  • Autonomy (being independent)
  • Integration (shoul fit in with society and cope with stressful situations)
  • Self attitudes (positivity: high self esteem)
  • Environment mastery (cope with your environment, function at work, in relationships and new situations).
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Statistical Infrequency Evaluations

1.There are many abnormalities that can be considered as desireable such as having a high IQ. Similarly, there are some abnormalities that are common but are less desirable such as depression. Therefore, using statistical infrequency to define abnormality means we are unable to distinguish between desirable and undesirable behaviours. 

2. Statistical infrequency is sometimes appropriate to defien abnormality. For example, intellectual disability is defiens in terms of the normal distribution using the concept of standard deviation to establish a cut off point for abnormality. IQ more than more than 2 standard deviations from the mean is judges as havng a mental disorder. 

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Deviation from social Norms Evaluations

1. The main difficulty of the concept of from social norms is that it varies as times change. What is socially acceptable now may not have always been, for example homosexuality was once considered a mental illness and was in the DSM undersexual and gender identity. If we define abnormality with deviation from social norms we open the doors to definitions based on prevailing social morals ans attitudes. 

2. Deviance may be related to the context of behaviour. In many cases there is not a clear line between what is abnormal deviation and simple eccentricity. This means that social deviants of abnormality, because it is inevitably related to both context and degree. 

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Failure to Function Adequately Evaluation

1. Someone needs to judge what is classed as not functioning adequately. The patient may be experiencing personal distress and may recodnise that this is undersirable. Or it may be other people that recognise the behaviour as undesirable and fell distressed. The weakness of this approach is that it depends on who is making the judgement. 

2. This definition of abnormality does recognise the subjective experience of the patient, allowing us to view mental disorders from the perspective of the peron effected most by it. Failure to function adequately is fairly easy to judge objectively because we can list behaviours and judge abnormaility objectively. 

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Deviation from Ideal Mental Health Evaluation

1. According to the criteria presentent the majority of people are abnormal. We also need to questio how many nedd o be lacking before a person is considered abnormal. The criteria is quite difficult to measure, this means the approach may be interesting bu not usable when it comes to identifying abnormalities. 

2. Physical illnesses have physical causes such as a virus or bacterial infection, which makes them relatively easy to detect and diagnose. Some mental disorders do have hysical causes, however some are must harder to identify. Other mental disorders may be the result of life experinces. Therefore it is unlikely hat we could diagnose mental abnormality in the same way as physial abnormality.

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