Examine the concepts of normality and abnormality (22mks)
Abnormality may be defined as behavior that causes distress, loss of freedom, physical or emotional pain, and increased risk of death or injury to self or something that causes a disability of some sort. Abnormal behaviour is however difficult to diagnose because it is, to a large extent, based on the symptoms people exhibit. Psychiatrists and psychologists use a standardized system called a diagnostic manual to help them but this system isn’t without faults. Since there is no clear definition of normality or abnormality – and symptoms of the same psychological disorders may vary not only between individuals but also between social and cultural groups, it is clear that a psychiatric diagnosis may be biased or even wrong. Definitions of normality and abnormality can also change over time. Another way to define abnormality is to consider when behavior violates social norms or makes others anxious. This definition is also problematic. Cultural diversity affects how people view social norms: what is seen as normal in one culture maybe seen as abnormal in another. Rosenhan and Seligman (1984) suggested that there are seven criteria that could be used to decide whether a person or behaviour is normal or not. These criteria include suffering, maladaptiveness, irrationality, unpredictability, vividness and unconventionality, observer discomfort and violation of moral or ideal standards. These criteria demonstrate a fine line between defining abnormality in ways that focus distress to the individual and defining it in terms of what is or is not acceptable to society. Vividness and unconventionality represents a social judgment because it deals with what is seen as social convention or not. The danger of social judgments is that they often fail to consider how people live their lives. There is an increasing awareness of how psychiatric diagnosis of ethnic minorities has been misapplied because doctors do not...
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