Psychological Abnormality: Definition and Limitations

Pages: 2 (678 words) Published: June 24, 2013
Outline 2 or more attempts to define psychological abnormality and consider limitations with these attempts. (12 marks)

There are many ways of defining psychological abnormality; the two I will be discussing is deviation from social norms and failure to function adequately. Deviation form social norms is a person’s thinking or behavior being classified as abnormal if it violates the rules or norms about what is expected or acceptable behavior in a particular social group. An example of this can be anorexia, more common in females where the person sees themselves as overweight even when extremely thin and person is terrified of weight gain. The media create unrealistic, and for most people 'ideal' images, especially of women. Most models are well below normal weight for their age and height Sufferers desperately want to be accepted and valued and tend to feel that they are not. However self-starvation is seen as abnormal in terms of social norms. Strength of deviation from social norms is that this definition takes into consideration the effect that behavior has on others in which deviance is defined in terms of breaking social rules which are usually made in order to help people live together. There are many limitations with the definition of deviation from social norms, beliefs about abnormality and social norms or morally acceptplable behavior changes over time for example homosexuality was included in the American classification system for disorders up to the 1960s. Since then attitudes have changed and homosexuality it no longer seen as a disorder. Another limitation is that context is import as we distinguish between normal and abnormal according to social norms of the time. Much of our behavior is context specific and take out of context may seem bizarre for example if you saw a person suddenly jump up from a park bench and start talking to themselves you might think of them as being very strange on the other hand if you saw a camera...
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