definitions of abnormality: deviation from social norms

the first definition of abnormality, deviation from social norms and evaluation points for this defintion

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deviation from social norms definition

  • society has certain expectations of how we should behave. if we behave differently to this then we are classed as abnormal
  • for example, a schizophrenic is abnormal as their behaviour is different to that of what society expects, such as talking to someone who isn't there
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problems with this definition: cultural relativism

  • different cultures have different ideas about what is socially acceptible, therefore behaviour in one country is normal but in another country it can be abnormal.
  • therefore we can't be certain a person is abnormal or if they are just non-conformist
  • for example, Afro-carribbeans are 7 times more likely to be diagnosed as schizophrenic in Britian because of there culture.
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problems with this definition: devience related to

  • making judgements on devience is related to the context of behaviour
  • a person wearing very little on a beach is considered normal but if that behaviour occured at a formal gathering it would be seen as abnormal
  • there isn't a clear line between abnormality and harmless eccentricity- being rude is abnormal but is not a symptom of mental illnesses
  • deviation from social norms on its own can't offer a complete definition of abnormality as its related to context and degree
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problems with this definition: susceptible to abus

  • vaires when times change, what is socially acceptible now may not have been 50 years ago.
  • today homosexuality is more socially acceptible but 50 years ago it was classed as a mental illness
  • if abnormality is defined by deviation from social norms, we aloow it to be based on social morals and attitudes, therefore mental health professionals can class people as mentally ill if they go against social norms
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good, but lacking in colour

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