Psychology Abnormality

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This essay explores what is abnormality with respect to the different ways by which it can be defined such as statistical infrequency, deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and deviating from ideal mental health and viewing their limitations and by using different models such as Psychodynamic, Cognitive, Behavioural and Medical model in identifying what is abnormal and their treatment. But the essay would focus more on the medical model and the different approaches used to define abnormality all have their focus point which is to distinguish between what is normal and abnormal. In order to understand abnormal psychology, it is essential to first understand what it meant by the term "abnormal." The meaning seems obvious; abnormal indicates something that is outside of the norm. But am talking about the norms of a particular group, gender or age and many human behaviours can follow what is known as the normal curve. Looking at this bell-shaped curve, the majority of individuals are clustered around the highest point of the curve, which is known as the average. People who fall very far at either end of the normal curve might be considered "abnormal."

One of the approaches used to define abnormality is statistical infrequency. This is when statistics is used to define the norm for any group of people. According to this approach abnormality is defined as deviating away from the mean which is represented on a normal distribution curve. Using statistical infrequency to define abnormality means that it is impossible to distinguish between desirable and undesirable behaviours. For example according to this definition left-handed people would be regarded as abnormal. However in context this being left-handed cannot be classified as being either normal or abnormal. In the case of depression, any symptoms experienced by around 80% of the population are thought to be normal but those experienced by 20% would be defined as abnormal. However there should be a cut-off point which should be used to decide what a normal or abnormal symptom is. The cut-off point is important as it would be used to determine what sort of treatment an individual receives. Due to the difficulty experienced in choosing the cut-off point in relation to abnormality or normality, the statistical infrequency cannot be seen as a successful means to classify or identify desirable and undesirable behaviours. This therefore highlights that this may be difficult to use in defining abnormality. Although the statistical infrequency is a very precise and scientific method; the great failure of this approach is that the decision that someone is abnormal is very objective rather than being very subjective. The deviation from social norms is another approach used to define abnormality. In all societies there are standards of acceptable behaviour that are set by social groups. These social norms include morals and expectations of how one should behave or act. These norms are usually set for good reasons. One such example is politeness. In Japan, when greeting someone it is custom (normal) to lower your head as a sign of respect, but if you were not to do this you would be labelled abnormal or in this case, disrespectful. In other words, not doing what everyone else is doing is seen as abnormal. Another form of example is in some part of the world homosexuality is seen as been abnormal because everyone believes in heterosexuality which is the normal thing. Davison, et al [2004] believes homosexuality is abnormal but at the same time still thinks it is normal for people to practise homosexuality. Abnormal behaviour is seen as deviation from implicit rules about how one ought to behave. This approach takes into account the effect behaviour has on others as well. This means that to a certain extent this approach has been successful in defining abnormality. In India it is deemed normal for girls as young as 9 years of age to marry much older men....
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