Definitions of abnormality

  • Created by: Katy
  • Created on: 14-04-14 18:12

Definitions of abnormality

Deviation from social norms (DSN)

  • those who depart from societies norms, from socially acceptable standards of behaviour are abnormal 


  • norms vary (time,place, age and culture) meaning that abnormality is not fixed eg riding a camel up the m62 is abnormal in england but riding a camel in the dessert is okay in the sahara 
  • going against social norms is not always due to abnormality it could be due to a dare
  • open to abuse, allows societies to be policed and those who voilate are legitimately removed 
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Definitions of abnormality

Failure to function adequately (FFA)

  • states of distress which interfere with day to day functioning
  • distrupting daily life, this is deemed as abnormal 


  • in most cases abnormality does cause you to not function adequately 
  • some who are abnormal can function adequately (psycopath)
  • FFA can be linked to the economic climate eg long term unemployment 
  • FFA may be normal in some cases eg prisoner on a hunger strike 
  • FFA = culture bound
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Definitions of abnormality

deviation from ideal mental health

  • six characteristics that define mental health, those who fail to meet 1 or more are deemed to be mentall ill 
  • the normal characteristics are: positive feeling towards self, self actualisation(high achievements), able to resist stress(good management techniques), able to function autonomously(decisions are made in your own interest) and finally adaptation to the environment(adjust to change) 


  • positive approach and emphasises abnormality 
  • most are labelled abnormal under this definition
  • works for physical health but not for mental health as the characteristics are too subjective 
  • DIMH is culture bound= self actualisation is not sought of in a collectivist environment
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