Definitions of Abnormality

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  • Created by: jessmitch
  • Created on: 06-05-14 14:34

Deviation from Social Norms

Social Norms are rules involveing our thoughts and behaviour that society expects us to adhere to.

Rules may be -

  • explicit - set down codes of conducts (e.g. dropping litter, being violent), breaking these rules may result in punishment.
  • implicit - understood rules but not stated formally (e.g. respecting personal space and how to act in social situations).

Abnormal Behaviour can be regarded as anything that deviates from these set rules, for example hugging a complete stranger. However, is defying these rules a sign of mental illness or someone who is prehaps odd and ecentric displaying what they think to be 'normal' behaviour?

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Failure to Function Adequatley

This definition is based on the idea that we can asssess someone's mental state bu judging how well they function in aspects of everyday life. 

Characteristics that define a persons inability to function can be - 

  • suffering or showing distress
  • being unable to adapt to situations e.g. satusfying work
  • vividness and unconventionality (standing out)
  • unpredictability and loss of control
  • irrationality (behaviour that makes no sense to others)
  • causing observer discomfort violating/social standards
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Deviation from Ideal Mental Health

Marie Jahoda created the deviation from ideal mental health definiton. Rather than focussing on signs of illness, she suggested looking at elements that make a positive state of mental health.

Johoda identiifed 6 criteria that if lacking, may make them vulnerable to mental illness - 

  • Positive Attitudes towards the self - having a positive outlook on yourself gives a sense of identity, qualities and self respect. Without this, negative concepts may be formed such as low self esteem.
  • Self Actualisation - Maslow suggested that we all have potentiol and we constantly strive to fulfil this, mental health problems may occur from not fulfiling it. 
  • Resistance to Stress - ability to tolerate stress using effective coping strategies is seen as healthy. However, the inablity to deal with these problems and thus causing a breakdown is conclusively abnormal.
  • Personal Autonomy - relying on ones inner resources and staying stable even in the face of setbacks and frustrations. 
  • Accurate Perception of the Reality - viewing oneself and the world in realistic terms, rather than in a distorted way.
  • Adapting to and mastering the Enviroment - being competent in all areas of life (work school, home, relationships) and being able to adapt to change easily. 
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