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AQA AS Psychology: Abnormality

Definitions of abnormality

Joseph Mills

on 4 March 2016

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Transcript of AQA AS Psychology: Abnormality

Definitions of Abnormality
Deviation from social norms
A behaviour which is considered to be antisocial or undesirable by the majority of societies members e.g. bizarre, violent, unpleasant or inappropriate

Psychotic symptoms like Schizophrenic delusions
Anti social personality types
Failure to function Adequately
This is focused on the individual and determined by their ability to cope.

Example: if you are feeling depressed but it does not get in the way of your daily routines like work, eating, washing, ability to socialise you probably dont think about your behaviour as being abnormal

As soon as your behaviour gets in the way of these things you may classify yourself as having a problem and being abnormal.

Deviance is often related to context e.g. wearing a bikini on the beach is normal but in a psychology lesson it is inappropriate

Sometimes deviance will be based on how harmless or excessive it is.

Harmless deviance like wearing odd clothing is seen to be eccentric.
Behaviour that goes against the moral values of society is seen as abnormal
Cultural relativism

Social norms are defined by the culture. This means that a person could have two completely seperate diagnosis when compared in two different societies
Varies as times change, therefore what is socially acceptable now may not be in the future

Some dysfunctional behaviour may have an adaptive quality and therefore be functional.

Example: Some disorders may lead to welcome extra attention for the individual

Transvestitism is classed as abnormal but cross dressers can make a living from this.
Cultural relativism

Definitions of adequate functioning are related to cultural ideas of how life should be lived.

This means it is likely to result in different diagnoses when applied to people from different cultures
Approved & expected ways of behaving in a particular society. Includes morals as well as expectations
DSM: Diagnostic and Statistic Manual
List of mental disorders which is used to diagnose mental disorders
For each disorder a list of clinical characteristics is given (symptoms)
John Slater
Is he eccentric or just plain mad??
Slavery and soviet dissidents

Slaves had a mental disorder which compelled them to seek freedom

Any societs that opposed the communist system were seen as being so bizarre and irrational it must have been caused by a mental disorder
Many aspects of the sun dance may not seem normal to you!!
Deviation from ideal mental health
Marie Jahoda (1958)

Reviewed the research of others in the field of mental health and identified 6 categories thought to be associated with optimal living
Positive view of SELF:
Self awareness, self acceptance, increased self esteem
Personal growth and Development:
Developing talents and abilities to the full e.g. college
Positive relationships:
Ability to form close, warm and fulfilling relationships
Ability to act independently, make own decisions & satisfaction from within themselves regulate own behaviour.
Acurate view of reality:
Seeing the world as it really is without distraction
Environment mastery:
Effectively meeting the demands of situations & being sufficiently flexible to adapt to changing circumstances e.g. love, work, solving problems
How normal are you?
Who has them all?

According to these criteria most of us are abnormal to some degree as this was designed to be an ideal criteria.

The question is how many do we need to be lacking before a person is judged abnormal?
Cultural relativism

Most of the criteria are culture bound. If this was applied to non-western or non-middle class groups there would be a higher incidence of abnormality

Reaching ones full potential is a quality required from members of individualist countries where as collectivist countries strive to reach the potential of the community
Who judges?

It maybe that the individual is experiencing personal distress such as not eating properly which maybe determined by the patient as undesirable behaviour.

However it maybe that the individual is content/unaware of their behaviour and lack of coping. Others maybe the ones who are judge and label the behviour as abnormal
In the film a beautiful mind Russell Crowe's characters bizarre behaviour was judged abnormal by his peers though he perceived himself to be functioning normally
Non traditional lifestyles may lead to a judgement of failing to function adequately
Mental health and physical health

Physical illness is relatively easy to diagnose as there are obvious symptoms and physical causes like bacteria.

Unlikely we can diagnose mental abnormality in the same way as physical abnormality as it is a result of life experience
Contains a glossary that describes patterns of behaviour and syndromes unique to that area (Cultural bound syndrome)
Would you class any of these grabbers as socially normal?
Statistical Infrequency
Human behaviour is abnormal if it falls outside the range that is typical for most people, in other words 'average' is normal.
if we define what normal is we can also know what abnormal is eg. having first baby over 40 or under 20
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