Abnormality Essay Discuss Two or More Definitions of Abnormality

Topics: Sociology, Mental disorder, Definition Pages: 3 (924 words) Published: March 21, 2011
Question 10
“Abnormality is very difficult to define. It can be hard to decide where normal behaviour ends and abnormal behaviour begins” Discuss two or more definitions of abnormality
AO1 = 6 marks Knowledge and understanding of definitions of abnormality. AO2 = 6 marks Commentary on definitions of abnormality.

The term ‘abnormal’ means deviating from the average. Therefore, if we were to adopt a literal approach to defining abnormality, we would conclude that any rare behaviour or ability was abnormal. This, however, is not a useful way of defining abnormality as it doesn’t take into account whether or not the behaviour is desirable. There are three ways of defining abnormality; deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health. Deviation from Ideal Mental Health focuses on what is normal as opposed to what is abnormal by deciding what normality is, anything that doesn't satisfy this idea of 'normal' must therefore be abnormality. Jahoda 1958 spoke about 'normality' as being a positive state of mental health. According to Jahoda several conditions should be met in order to satisfy what she calls 'optimal living'. The conditions for optimal living are as follows; a positive view of self (meaning the person must have a feeling of self worth and a reasonable extent of self esteem), actualisation (meaning the person must become the best they can, autonomy (the person must show a level of independence), accurate view of reality (their view must not be distorted e.g. they must not think that everyone's untrustworthy and everyone is watching them), environmental adaptability (the person must be able to adapt their behaviour to different environments e.g. certain behaviour is appropriate for weddings but not for funerals) and finally resistance to stress (the person must be able to deal with the stresses of everyday life.) Strengths of this explanation include the fact that it is a...
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