Psychological abnormality

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Deviation from social norms

  • Socially conventional & acceptable ways to bahave
  • Obeying laws
  • Social/cultual values/expectation
  • Different behaviour = abnormal
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Limitations of deviation from social norms

Behaviour = act of choice

  • Lifestyle choice eg.vegans
  • Following a minority religion= may be an act of non-conformism (from rejection of usual social norms)
  • Labelled abnormal when its not

Social norms change regularly

  • Change over time
  • Always changing
  • eg. homosexuals= normal behaviour
  • not reliable way to identify abnormality
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Different culture = different norms

  • Cultural context = influences how it's interpreted
  • eg. Indian culture = normal to speak to dead relative
  • This would be seen as a sign of psychological abnormality for someone in the UK to behave like this
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Failure to function adequately

How people cope with every day activities

If someone is having diffuclty with day to day life then this can indicate abnormal behaviour

Rosenhan and seligman- certain characteristics:

  • Suffering
  • Others feeling unconfortable about an individ's behaviour
  • vivid & unconventional behaviour
  • Unpredictable/loosing control
  • Maladaptive behaviour (not helpful/useful)
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Limitations of failure to function

Normal to fail to functions (sometimes)

  • Depends on individ's circumstances
  • might have legitimate reason
  • Entirely normal sometimes

Cultural differences

  • Non-Western cultures=normal
  • Some cultural groups might cause discomfort (Arabics stand closer to people) 
  • Doesn't mean they are failing to function/abnormal 
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Deviation from ideal mental health

Psychological factors- make up a meantally healthy person

Marie Johoda: 6 main criteria

  • Good self esteem (+ attitude)
  • Fulfilment of one's potential
  • Resistance to stress
  • Independant behaviour
  • Accurate perceptions of reality
  • Adapting to & mastering environment
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Limitations of deviation from ideal mental health

Few people = ideally mentally healthy

  • Not many can say thay show all of the 6 characteristics
  • Most of us = abnormal 
  • Not useful definition

Cultural differences

  • Western cultural perspective 
  • Criteria not so important for non-Western cultures
  • Not good way for defining abnormality for all cultures
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Cultural relativism

  • Normal behaviour depends on the societies/cultures in which they live
  • Behaviour relative to their culture
  • Compare behaviour with people in their own culture (abnormal/normal?)
  • Definition limited to particular cultures (Western culture)
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