Definitions of Abmormality

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What is abnormality?

  • A psychological condition or behavior that departs from the norm or is harmful and distressing to the individual ad others around them
  • Abnormal behaviours are usually those that violate society's ideas of what is an appropriate level of function.

Deviation from social norm.

  • Any behaviour that violates the norms of the group and what is considered acceptable in society.
  • There are explicit norms which are established laws.
  • There are also implicit norms which are suggested expectations of behaviour.

Evaluation points.

  • Susceptible to abuse - social norms may vary but the definition doesn't change, eg. homosexuality used to be considered abnormal but now it's an accepted aspect of society. The term may also become overused so that the definition suggests we're all abnormal.
  • Context and degree - some things may appear abnormal if they're not viewed in the correct context. The definition also doesn't tell us the degree, how far from normal do you have to b to be considered as abnormal?
  • Cultural relativism - the view that behaviour cannot be judged properly unless it is viewed in the context of the culture in which it originates.
  • It distinguishes between desirable and undesirable behaviour.
  • It takes into account the effect a persons behaviour has on others.
  • It takes into account the greater good of society. 

Failure to function adequately.

  • When an individual changes a pattern of behavious from where they are able to cope with every day life to a pattern of behaviour where they cannot cope.
  • The ability to cope involves 5 factors, if an individual is showing these factors, they may be unable to function adequately.
  • Dysfunctional behaviour: behaviour that interferes with a personal ability to lead a functional life.
  • Personal distress: people who are in conflict with themselves.
  • Observer discomfort: people who frequently cause upset or discomfort to others.
  • Unpredictable behaviour: unexplained or unexpected behaviour eg. mania
  • Irrational behaviour: behaviour that doesn't make sense to others, they often can't communicate with them in a reasonable way and are described as irrational.

Evaluation points.

  • Who judges? - the individual may be content with their


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