Definitions of abnormality (Deviation from ideal mental health (EVALUATION…
Definitions of abnormality
Deviation From Social Norms
Its when a person acts differently from the norm in society. Behaviour may be deemed abnormal if not frequent. The norms should be specific to every culture and generation. Few behaviours considered universally abnormal. EX: Homosexuality in different ages.
EXAMPLE: ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER: We make social judgements that psychopaths are abnormal because they don't conform to our moral standards.
Cultural relativism- Social norms vary tremendously from different cultures, for example hearing voices may be normal in one culture but completely abnormal in another.
Leads to human right abuses- To much reliance on this can lead to systematic abuse of human rights. EX: black slaves and women. Social norms have changed, but radical psychologists suggest that some modern categories of mental disorder are really abuses of peoples rights.
Not a sole explanation- It has real life application which is good in diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. However it can't be a sole reason, it often leads to failure to function adequately
Social versus statistical norms- Includes the issue of desirability of behaviour. Wouldn't include a genius in the socially abnormal category as they shouldn't be discouraged.
To do with the number of times we observe it. Any usual behaviour can be thought of as normal, and any unusual behaviour abnormal. For example fears of buttons or zombies are by the minority so considered abnormal.
EXAMPLE: IQ- The average IQ is 100. 2% below 70. They'd be considered abnormal. Liable to receive diagnosis of an intellectual disability disorder.
Unusual can be good- Some people have abnormalities that are desirable traits. They don't always require treatment, meaning statistical deviation can never be used alone to make a diagnosis.
Not everyone benefits from a label- Being labelled statistically abnormal can ruin a happy healthy life. People with low IQ are capable of working, and to label them abnormal may have a negative view on the way they label themselves and also the way others label them.
Real-life application- Has real life application in the diagnosis of intellectual disability disorder. Place for it in considering abnormality. How severe a condition is is often compared to the statistical norm, so it does help.
Failure to Function Adequately
A person may be considered abnormal when they are unable to cope with the demands of everyday life. EX: maintaining nutrition and hygiene, or because they cannot hold a job.
David Rosenhan and Martin Seligmen proposed some signs of failing to cope:
When a person no longer conforms to standard interpersonal rules, for EX, maintaining eye contact and respecting personal space.
When a person experiences severe distress.
When a persons behaviour becomes irrational or dangerous to themselves or others.
EXAMPLE: Low IQ. An individual must be failing to function adequately before diagnosing an
intellectual disability disorder
Deviation from social norms?- It can be difficult to differentiate the two, for example no house may show as a deviation from the social norm. But what about people who choose not to have things, for example religious people, or those who practise unorthodox extreme sports. Don't want to accuse them of being failures as they act in a maladaptive way, as we risk limiting personal freedom.
Subjective judgements-Someone has to judge a patient and whether they are distressing. Patients may feel distressed but not be judged as suffering. There are attempts to make it as subjective as possible, and the principle is a psychiatrist has the right to make their own judgement.
Patients perspective- Attempts to use patients subjective experiences, which is good. Difficult to assess distress, but acknowledges the patients experience. Useful criterion for assessing abnormality.
Deviation from ideal mental health
Rather than looking at what makes someone abnormal, look at what makes them normal. Marie Jahoda proposed criteria:
Resistance to stress
: Having effective coping strategies and being able to cope with everyday anxiety provoking situations.
Growth, development or self-actualisation:
Experiencing personal growth and becoming everything one is capable of becoming.
High self-esteem and a strong sense of identity:
Having self-respect and a positive self-concept.
Being independent, self-reliant and being able to make personal decisions.
Accurate perception of reality:
Having an objective and realistic view of the world.
Some of the above can overlap with failure to function adequately.
Positive, holistic stance- Jahoda focuses on the positives of it, which can be helpful in people speaking out.
Cultural relativism- Some ideas are specific to Western Europe and North America (culture bound). EX: self-actualisation may be considered bad in paces, as there is too much focus on oneself. Also others see independence as a bad thing. Such traits are typical of individualist countries.
Comprehensive definition- Covers a broad range of criteria. Covers most reasons why someone would seek for help. Good tool for thinking about mental health.
Sets high standards- Not everyone will be able to achieve all of Dakotas criteria for the whole of their lives, meaning everyone would be abnormal. EX: grief of a lost loved one.
Can be good or bad, good as it makes it clear that people need help, negative as it provides no value of who might gain benefit from treatment.
Labelling- When someone is labelled as struggling to cope, it may add to problems. Can also attach permanent labels for employers for example.