Definitions of abnormality 2

  • AO1:
  • Failure to function adequately:
  • A person may cross the line between normal and abnormal at the point that they cannot deal with the demands of everyday life anymore - they fail to function adequately. For instance, not being able to hold down a job, maintain relationships or maintain basic standards of hygiene. 
  • Rosenhan and Seligman propsed signs of failure to cope. When someone isn't coping, they no longer conform to interpersonal rules (maintaining personal space), they experience personal distress, and they behave in a way that is irrational or dangerous to themselves or other people. 
  • An example of this would be intellectual disability disorder. Having very low IQ is a statistical infrequency but diagnosis wouldn't be made on the basis alone. There would have to be clear signs that, as a result of this, the person was unable to cope with the demands of everyday life. So intellectual disability disorder is an example of failure to function adequately. 
  • Deviation from ideal mental health:
  • A different way to look at normality and abnormality is to think about what makes someone 'normal' and psychologically healthy. Then identify anyone who deviates from this ideal. 
  • Jahoda suggested the following criteria in which people who have 'ideal mental health' will comply with. 
  • We have no symptoms of distress.
  • We are rational and percieve ourselves accurately
  • We self-actualise
  • We can cope with stress
  • We have a realistic view of the world
  • We have good self-esteem and lack guilt
  • We are independent of other people
  • We can successfully


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