Definition of abnormality essay

Topics: Psychology, Classical conditioning, Behaviorism Pages: 9 (2288 words) Published: April 22, 2013
Revision Notes- Abnormality
Definition of abnormality
* Failure to function adequately- An assessment of an individual whose disability prevents them from pursing normal goals and activities. Rosenhan and Seligman (89)-7 characteristics; Suffering- most abnormal individuals report that they are suffering Maladaptiveness- danger to self (usually occurs as a result of lacking relevant knowledge and skill) Vivid/unconventional behaviour- ways in which abnormal individuals tend to behave often differs substantially from most people. Unpredictability/loss of control- the behaviour of abnormal people is often very variable, uncontrolled and inappropriate. Irrationality/ incomprehensibility- others cannot understand why anyone would choose to behave in this way Observer discomfort- social behaviour is governed by a number of unwritten norms or rules of behaviour (e.g. not standing too close to someone while talking) Violation of moral/Ideal standards- behaviour may be judged ‘abnormal’ when it violates established more standard Evaluation

* Criticised as it depends heavily on subjective assessments- e.g. people who engage in behaviour that is maladaptive may not consider themselves to be abnormal (adrenaline sports). * Does not sufficiently differentiate abnormal behaviour from behaviour that is non-conformist.

* Deviation from social norms-Behaviour that violates implicit and explicit rules and moral standards of a given society. Evaluation
* Norms not fixed-change over time.
* Abnormal, eccentric or criminal?
* Role of context including culture
* Risk of abuse
* Deviation from mental ideal health- A deviation from the ideal characteristic that people should possess if they are to live optimally. –Marie Jahoda’s 6 characteristics; Small- Self actualisation

People-Personal growth
Poo-Perception of reality
Everywhere-Environment mastery
* Criticised for being subjective as it may differ from person to person and there may be no agreement between people as to what constitutes normal or ideal mental health. * Culture bound by Western ideals of self-fulfilment and individuality (culture relativism) * Most people may fail on some criteria

Biological Model
* Assumes that psychological and behavioural abnormalities have biological causes. * Biological causes include genes, infection, neuro-anatomy and biochemistry. * Genetic concept-supported by Kendler et al.(85)-relatives with schizophrenia and Gottesman (91)-Identical twins * Infection that gets into the brain can cause widespread damage and if the brain is damaged then a person may start to have abnormal experiences or to behave in abnormal ways. (Flu is linked with schizophrenia- (Barr et al. (90)). * Bio-chemistry- Brain relies on hundreds of different chemicals all being in the correct balance. These chemicals (neurotransmitters and hormones) are used to send messages round the brain and nervous system, too much or too little of them can cause the brain to function abnormally. Schizophrenia has been associated with an excess activity in the neurotransmitter dopamine. * Neuro-anatomy- illustrates that schizophrenia is cause by abnormality in the structure of the brain; these abnormality could be inherited. Concept supported by the case study of Phineas Gage. Evaluation

* Criticised for being reductionist as it simplifies complex behaviour to its simplest form. * Deterministic- As you have no choice over your behaviour or the development of a mental disorder. * Ethical issue –Labelling someone mentally ill as Szaz illustrates that apart from identified disease of the brain, most so-called mental disorders are really problems of living. * Objective- Based on mature biological science.

Biological treatments;
Drugs- for anxiety, depression and schizophrenia
ECT- for severe depression
Psychosurgery- for severe anxiety and...
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