Definitions Of Abnormalities

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  • Created by: kira
  • Created on: 09-04-12 17:32

Deviation from Social Norms:

Every society has social standards of behaviour that are acceptable behaviours that most people have to carry out in order to be 'normal'. Some of these standards might be unwritten but are generally accepted by society or a group of people. One example of an unwritten law would be the habit of queuing in shops in Britain. Social norms will vary in different cultures, in some countries, queuing in shops is uncommon. One definition to abnormality is to think of deviation from the social norms or standards as being abnormal behaviour. In some situations this can be obvious, such as schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder.


  • Deviation from social norms is not always an accurate way of measuring abnormal behaviour. For example eccentricity might involve not stepping on the cracks of the pavement because this is a superstition, but this is not a sign of psychopathology.
  • There is also the context behind the behaviour, which is important. On the beach people might be wearing very little, but wearing the same outfit in the classroom or outfit is not considered as normal. Or if someone ran through the canteen or playground naked, we would consider this as eccentric but not abnormal, because if we new the context, this person could have been dared to do that.
  • Social norms can vary over time. One example is homosexuality; homosexuality was in the American classification system for psychiatric disorders up until the 1960s. Attitudes have change a lot since then.
  • The legal system suggests that people are responsible for their own actions, therefore, people who are convicted of crimes are not considered 'abnormal'. So committing crimes does not always involve some one with psychopathology. But in some cases, those who have been committed


Chloe Slatter


Fab notes, thanks x

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