Definitions of abnormality

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Deviation from social norms

Norms are guidelines that teaches us how to behave in society, they are unspoken rules. people who break these rules are classed as abnormal. 

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Deviation from social norms (AO3)

Changes over time 

Society changes it`s norms. e.g. homosexuality 

Therefore, its difficult to see what a mental illness is. 

Vary from culture to culture 

e.g. in african culture is acceptable to talk to dead spirits. 

Therefore, this is ian issue because we dont actually know what a mental illness is, as it changes form culture to culture. 

Depends on context 

e.g. someone singing in the the park could be abnormal but not if there is a film crew. 

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Failure to function adequately

People are classed as abnormal, if they cannot function on a day to day basis. 

Rosenhan and Seligman came us with 7 key charateristics that people may display when they are failing to funtion adequatley.

1) Suffering (crying, cannot cope)

2) Maladaptiveness (cannot cope in a situation) 

3) Observer Discomfort - others feel uncomfortable with your behaviour 

4) Unconventional behaviour - behaviour thats different to others 

5) Unpredictable behaviour - can`t predict

6) Violation of moral standards - going against laws of norms 

7) Irrational behaviour - blow things out of proportion 


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Failure to function adequately (AO3)

Sometimes it`s normal to show these characteristics 

sometimes its aceptable to show these characteristics. e.g. Stress, berevement 

Therefore, these characteristics dont always equal mental illness,

Other reasons why we may display theses characteristics 

someone may have just lost their job/marriage etc and they function like this for a reason 

Therefore, we must look at the context and why they are behaving like they are 

more measurable than other definitions 

The GAF scales means we can measure abnormality and use this to compare it to others. the doctor can use scale to objectively to decide. 

Therefore, this makes diagnosis more reliable and the doctor will be able to make the same diagnosis on same patient. 

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Statistical Infrequency

The idea is that if our behaviour matches the same as the rest of the population- or near it, you arent classed as being abnormal. Abnormality occurs when you sit outisde the "normal" population.

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Statistical Infrequency (AO3)

Clear guideline for abnormality 

This has real-life application- we can se it objectively to measure illness.

Therefore, its useful in clinical asssessments. 

Some characteristics are seen as desirable 

some IQ scores over 130 are seen ad abnormal in this case, but it doesnt mean you have a mental illness. 

Therefore, this is a srious limitation as it means it cannot be used alone to make a diagnosis. 

Not everyone benefits from a label 

if someone is living a happy lifeeven though they are outside the "normal" category. e.g. IQ below 70- they dont need a diagnosis. 

Therefore, doesnt help with written diagnosis

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Deviation from ideal mental health

Everyone has an ideal mental health they shoud achieve. 

Jahoda- 6 characteristics 

Self- actualisation - people should strive for ultimate potential 

Accurate perception of reality - seeing you and pther realistically

Positive attitudes towards self - self respect and self confidence 

Personal anatomy - rely on yourself 

Adapting to enviroment - being compentant in all areas of life, and be flexible abd able to adjust to situations that arise

Resistant to stress- good coping stratagies 

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Deviation from ideal mental health (AO3)

Criteria is hard to achieve 

it`s hard for most of us to reach our ultimate potential. just because we dont, doesnt mean were abnormal. 

Therefore, the criteria is too strict 

Not all cultures will achieve these criterias 

only relevant to individualistic cultures such as UK + USA. collectivist culture wont strive for these things.

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