Outline and Evaluate the Definitions of Abnormality

Topics: Sociology, Mental disorder, Psychiatry Pages: 2 (617 words) Published: April 15, 2013
There are three definitions of abnormality; the first is deviation from social norms. A person will be diagnosed with this when they have deviated from the unwritten rules and standards of society making them seem abnormal. Jahoda identified this abnormality and said there were 6 conditions associated with good mental health. A positive attitude, Self-actualisation, Resistance to stress, Personal autonomy, accurate perception of reality, and Adaption to the environment. However there are limitations to this definition; the first is that the ‘social norm’ changes all the time. As recently as 1974 homosexuality was seen as a mental disorder as well as being a single parent. Therefore who’s to say what the norm is? Another limitation is that social norms vary between cultures. For example in Cuba its normal to speak to the dead once they pass, this is also backed up by a Canadian tribe who undergo a stage called witiko where they say they’re possessed by a monster and actions such as cannibalism and starvation can occur. This proves that what is normal depends on cultures around the world, it can’t be generalised. The last limitation is that who says that the social norm is good? Rosa parks stood up against the norm for the right of racism and now everyone follows. The second definition of abnormality is failure to function adequately. If you are diagnosed with this you are said to be unable to cope with the demands of everyday life. There are 5 variations dysfunctional behaviour, observer discomfort, unpredictable behaviour, irrational behaviour and personal distress. If you show symptoms of 1 or more of the 5 variations then your behaviour is considered abnormal. A limitation of this is that everyone has done one of those things at least once in your life, does that mean that you’re failing to function adequately? Therefore the its inaccurate, there are no boundaries for diagnosis this is supported by Rosenhan 1973 who shows that psychiatric classification can...
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