What is abnormality?

Page 1 of 7

What is abnormality?

By | December 2012
Page 1 of 7
What is Abnormality?

The definition of normal is that which conforms to a standard or a typical state or condition. Statistically the definition of normal behaviour is that which is shown by most individuals. The concept of abnormality is difficult to define, therefore, it is difficult to diagnose. When it comes to observing behaviour observers are influenced by their own interpretations and biases. The term ‘abnormal’ means deviating from the average. Therefore, if we were to adopt this approach to defining abnormality literally then we could conclude that any rare behaviours or abilities are abnormal. However, this literal way of defining abnormality does not take into account whether the behaviour or ability is desirable or not. The ways in which abnormality can be defined are; deviation from ideal mental health, violation of social norms, failure to function adequately and statistical infrequency, [Saul McLeod, 2008].

Under the statistical infrequency definition of abnormality an individual’s behaviour is classed as abnormal if it is statistically unusual or rare. However, this method of definition has its limitations. An example of this would be an IQ; if an individual has an above average IQ society would deem this as being abnormal. However, in reality it is the contrary that is true and they would be regarded highly for their intelligence. This is where the desirability of a certain behaviour or ability needs to be taken into account. Some characteristics have no bearing on either normality or abnormality yet they are regarded as abnormal even though they are quite frequent, being left handed is an example of this. Under the definition of deviation from ideal mental health rather than define abnormal it is what is classified as normal that is defined; anything which deviates from this would be classified as abnormal. However, in order to define if someone deviates from ideal mental health we have to classify what ideal mental...