Failure to function adequately

  • Created by: izzy
  • Created on: 13-06-13 17:16

Failure to function adequately (FFA)

This definition of abnormality focuses on the everyday behaviour of an individual. Conventionally we wake up in the morning, get dressed, go to work. As adults we may have a family to support and relationships to maintain. When someone deviates from this normal pattern pf behaviour we might argue we are failing to function adequately. Common examples would be severe depression, which leads to apathy and inertia, meaning that the depressed person may fail to even get up in the morning, let alone hold down a job. The condition may well affect their relationships and family life. Such a change from their normal pattern of behaviour would be a clear sign of psychopathology. We should note however that failing to function adequately is a sign of disorder, and not itself specific to any condition. The agoraphobic, afraid to leave their house, or the schizophrenic patient with paranoid delusions that make them avoid their family are both failing to function adequately.

Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) have suggested some characteristics of abnormal behaviour that are related to the FFA definition. Examples include the following:

  • Observer discomfort, where another's behaviour causes distress and discomfort to…


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