Abnormality - condensed.

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  • Created by: niakm96
  • Created on: 16-05-14 11:46

Definitions of abnormality

What is abnormality

  • Abnormal simply means something that is not usual or typical. But there are behaviours which are not typical but desirable, such as a genius & there are behaviours rhat are 'typical' but not desirable,such as divorce.
  • Therefore, when considering abnrmality in terms of mental disorder; we are interested in how we decide what behaviours prevent an individual rom leading a like free from distress. A person with a mental disorder is usually deeply troubled - though there are some disorders where the suffererisn't troubled at all but those around him/her are.

Defintion 1: Deviation from social norms 

  • Description: untypical and/or unacceptable behaviours - realted to social norms. For example, obsessive hand washing or laughing when someone is sad. Such rules may be implicity or explicit (legally defined).
  • Evaluation: Limitation-  culturally relative. Limitation- definition is open to abuse. Stregth- includes the issueof how desirable a behaviour is.

Definition 2: Failure to function adequately

  • Description: Not coping with everyday life. For example, taking care of yourself, being in control. Labelled as 'abnormal' only if lack of functioning is causing distress.
  • Evaluaton: Limitation - culturally relative. Limitation- subjective judgement are required. Strength- does attempt to include the subjective experience of the individual.

Defintion 3: Deviatio from ideal mental health.

  • Description: List of mental health, as a standard to judge mental ill-health. For example, positive self-attitude and capacity for personal growth. For example, accurate perception of reality and mastery of the environment.
  • Evaluation: Limitation- culturally relative. Limitation- list not really useable. Strength- positive approach.
  • Conclusion: No single definition is really sufficient because they all have problems, however the definitions can be combined toprovide a better diagnostic tool.

The biological approach to abnormality

  • Description: Called the medical model. Genes create vulnerability. Neurotransmitters,for example low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin have been associated with depression. Neuroanatomy,areas of brain damaged by disease or infection. Infection and disease may cause mental disorders, such as flu or brain tumours. Causes interliked,for example genes cause abnormal levels of neurotransmitters.
  • Evaluation: Strength- evidence to support the role of genetic factors. Strength- evidence to support the role of specific genes that may create a vulnerability. Limitation- not clear whether the biological factors are a cause - they may be an effect. Limitation- not appropriate for all mental disorders. Limitation-biological model assumes that mental illness is the same as physical illness.
  • Conclusion: despire the limitations, the biological approach is probably the dominant model is psychopathology. Nevertheless thee countinue to be quite a lot of people who feel it it an inappropriate approach to understanding mental disorder and may prevent the development of more appropriate ways of managing the distress some people experience. 

The psychodynamic approach to abnormality

  • Description: Frued recorgnised that psychological causes can explain physical symptoms. Stage of personality development affects later behaviour. For example, the 'oral agressive personality' dye to overindulgence in the oral stage. Conflicts between the id, ego and superego create anxiety. Childhood expereinces are important, for example repressed anxiety may lead to…


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