PSYA2: Abnormality Revision (Defining Abnormality)

 Defining Abnormality, Applying Definitions of Abnormality, Models of Abnormality 


Defining Abnormality: deviation from social norms

Deviation from social norm can be defined as behaviors that are considered anti-social or undesirable by the majority of society members. E.g. a person who conistently disobeys laws, is disrespectful to those in authority and fails to conform in society might be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. 

Limitations of the deviation from social norms 

  • social norms change overtime e.g. in 1980 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the WHO but today is perfectly acceptible in society
1 of 3

Defining Abnormality: failure to function adequate

Failure to function adequately is achieved when an individual cannot cope with the task of day-to-day living. The individual is not capable of functioning, at work, school and socially. This definition focuses more on the well-being of the individual rather than imposing society's standards on them (deviation from social norms definition). 

Limitations of the failure to function adequately

  • who decides what an acceptible level of functioning is?
  • adaptive or maladaptive - sometimes 'abnormal' behavior may be helpful for the individual 
2 of 3

Defining Abnormality: deviation from ideal mental

Jahoda (1958), suggests and believes that.. 
Mental health and Physical health can be looked at in the same way. Mental illness is diagnosed by absence of signs of physical health. Someone is 'abnormal' if they fail to meet criteria for good mental health, including:

  • Healthy self attitudes
  • Personal growth 
  • Ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Accurate perception of reality     

Limitations of the deviation from ideal mental health

  •  nobody can achieve all the charachteristics suggested by Jahoda as achieving 'ideal mental health' all the time
3 of 3


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Abnormality resources »