Definitions of Abnormality

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  • deviation refers to deviant behaviour - behaviour considered unacceptable by the majority.
  • There are social norms in any society - acceptable behaviour set up by social groups. 
  • Politeness is an idea of a norm because people may find interaction difficult otherwise.
  • Social standards adhere to more moral behaviour as well, sexual behaviour. Homosexuality was classified as deviant, but is not nowadays.


  • Susceptible to abuse 
  • It varies as time changes (homosexuality). In Russia, anyone disagreeing with the state ran a risk of being placed in a mental institution. 
  • If we use this definition we welcome definitions based on prevailing social morals and attitudes.
  • Deviance is related to context and degree
  • The context of the behaviour is important, wearing a bikini on a beach is acceptable whereas wearing this on the street is not, possibly an indication of a mental disorder. 
  • No clear line between an abnormal deviation and eccentricity. 
  • Social deviance on its own cannot offer a complete definition of abnormality.
  • Cultural Relitivism
  • Influenced by cultural factors. 
  • Disorders are diagnosed differently in different places. Diagnosis may be different for the same person in two different


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