Definitions of Abnormality

Mind Map by ellie.johns, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by ellie.johns about 5 years ago


Mind Map on Definitions of Abnormality, created by ellie.johns on 26/02/2015.

Resource summary

Definitions of Abnormality
1 Failure to function adequately
1.1 Failure to function adequately: If any aspect of behaviour interferes with everyday life, then it is considered abnormal. This definition refers to the inability to cope with day-to-day living so that the person is causing distress or discomfort to themselves or to others. For example if someone does not want to eat and stops going to work then they would be failing to function adequately as they are causing distress to themselves by not eating and cannot cope with the day-to-day life of going to work.
1.1.1 Limitations: 1) There are times when maladaptive behaviour is not abnormal due to a specific circumstances. For example, some political prisoners go on hunger strikes as part of their protest e.g. Gandhi during his campaign for Indian independence, although this behvaiour could be seen as failing to function adequately this example is understandable considering the circumstance. 2) What is considered adequate in one culture is not necessarily adequate in another. This is ;ikely to lead to different diagnoses in different cultures, for example Arabs tend to stand closer to people when talking to them compared to Europeans, plus eye contact varies with culture. This could cause observer discomfort and may mean that the behaviour of people from these cultures is misinterpreted.
2 Deviation from Social Norms
2.1 Deviation from social norms: When people behave in a way that is different from what most of society do and they do not follow that standards set by society they are considered abnormal. For example a schizophrenic may experience hallucinations and claim to see things that are not there,, this behaviour goes against social norms in society.
2.1.1 Limitations: 1) Social norms change over time as moral attitudes change. This means that behaviour classified as deviant 0 years ago could be perfectly acceptable nowadays, for example: homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder in the DSM until the 1970s. This means that defining abnormal behaviour using current social norms may result in unfair treatment. 2) Culture - Norms are dependent on culture e.g. some ethnic groups will have auditory hallucinations during religious rituals e.g. hearing voices and this would be regarded as mental illness in the West. This could explain why a disproportionate number of black males are diagnosed with schizophrenia in the UK.
3 Deviation from Ideal Mental Health
3.1 Jahoda (1958) identified six positive characteristics which she believed promoted good psychological health. Anyone who deviates or lacks any of these qualities is said to be deviating from ideal mental health. These criteria are: PARPAS - 1) Positive attitude towards the self (having high self-esteem and a sense of identity); accurate perception of reality (being able to see oneself and the world in realistic terms - not overly optimistic or pessimistic approach); resistance to stress (having the necessary coping strategies for dealing with stressful situations); personal autonomy (being self-contained and independent, depending on own inner resources); adapting to and mastering the environment; self-actualisation of one's potential (focusing on the future and realising own potential). For example a schizophrenic having hallucinations does not have an accurate perception of reality.
3.1.1 Limitations: 1) It is difficult to meet all of the criteria and many people would struggle, therefore according to this definition most people are abnormal. For example few people achieve total self-actualisation and will not always have positive attitudes towards themselves. 2) The criteria is based on a Western ideal of psychological health including views of individuality e.g. personal autonomy is not appropriate for collectivist cultures who do not value autonomy.
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