• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences" - Consider how definitions of abnormality may be influenced by cultural differences.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences" * Consider how definitions of abnormality may be influenced by cultural differences (18m) All of the definitions of abnormality that we have studied, have been culturally specific, meaning that, what may possibly be classed as normal in one culture, could be classed as extremely abnormal to another. This problem of cultural relativism limits the definitions accuracy in being able to define abnormality as a whole. It is near impossible to make an absolute statement about what is normal, or abnormal in human behaviour, purely because of cultural factors. The four definitions we studied do not take cultural differences into account. The Statistical Infrequency definition groups people together, based on certain measured characteristics, and put this information into a distribution pattern to classify whether people fit into the 'average', or whether they fall outside the average, where they are then deemed to be abnormal. However, only certain characteristics can be measured, and this also put forth the question of - which characteristics show abnormality? ...read more.

Middle

Some cultures may affect people fitting these criteria, yet this doesn't mean that they are abnormal, or have a bad state of mental health. The last definition we studied was Failure To Function Adequately. This definition suggests that when people's behaviour interferes with their daily functioning, and they do not function adequately, then they are abnormal. This definition realises that there is a higher incidence of psychological problems among people from a minority group, however this may be due to their more stressful life experiences, and so even this definition doesn't bring culture as a whole into the equation. Cultural relativism is the ability to view the beliefs and customs of other people within the context of their culture rather than their own. Some people see those from other cultures, and see what they do or believe in as abnormal, purely because it is different to what they do and believe within their own culture. In that person's eyes, the other person would be deemed as abnormal, yet this is not true. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, this shows, that if someone didn't know where this person came from, they would be very quick to class him as abnormal, yet because of his environmental circumstances, this is a proven problem, and although it still wouldn't be classed as completely normal, it is still explainable, and there is a stable reason behind it. Another example of this is that schizophrenia is two to seven times more likely to be diagnosed in Afro-Caribbean men living in the UK than in white men. So this also tells us that not only do cultures need to be acknowledged, but also, subcultures. However, all cultured want to support any individuals who experience some kind of 'abnormal' behaviour, for example, not eating. Therefore suggesting that there are some universal indicators of abnormality. Despite this, if one of the four definitions had to be chosen, then the Deviation From Ideal Mental Health idea would probably be the best choice. This is because it treats people individually, instead of grouping them together, and so there is less chance of cultural differences being a problem. However, in conclusion, none of the definitions can successfully define abnormality successfully, because of culture. VickyG (c) 2003 vix886@hotmail.com - 1 - ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. "Outline and evaluate two definitions of abnormality: statistical infrequency and deviation from social norms."

    Again, there are limitations to this definition, particularly since the social rules we should supposedly abide by are culturally relative and era-dependent. What is considered as the norm changes over time, meaning that something considered as socially deviant 50 years or so ago, may be the norm now, an example of this could be couples cohabiting before marrying.

  2. Consider the Problems Faced by Psychologists in the Definition of Abnormality

    a severe depressive episode at least once during the course of their life. Further studies in 1994 by Kessler et al. discovered that 48% of people in their survey of 48 American states had already suffered from at least one psychological disorder in their lives.

  1. Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality

    In some cases it is difficult to prove that a person has even suffered a traumatic experience in childhood. Elizabeth Loftus carried out research into the theory of 'false memories', where it has been seen to be possible for a therapist to implant an idea into a vulnerable client's memory

  2. Describe and evaluate the concepts of abnormal behaviour When we talk about abnormal behaviour ...

    a graph of women's shoe sizes in china would have completely different results to that of the same graph for women in England. The other problem that arises from using only a graph to diagnose mental abnormality is; where do you draw the line between abnormal and normal.

  1. Outline and evaluate two or more attempts to define abnormality.

    Outline key features of the psychodynamic model of abnormality and consider its strengths and weaknesses The term 'psychodynamic' refers to a group of explanations that try to account for the dynamics of behaviour, or the forces that motivate it. Freud claimed that mental illness arises out of unresolved, unconscious conflicts that form in early childhood.

  2. Defining abnormality

    Like other definitions, this one is bound by culture and era-dependency. Also, since most people have behaved in ways society disapproves of, most would be defined as 'abnormal.' No one definition on its own is adequate. Behaviours that are classified as mental disorders do not necessarily reflect all of the various definitions.

  1. Cultural Relativism

    but we have access to an education system from a young age. Does this mean that people in Ethiopia who have an IQ dramatically lower than 100 are statistically infrequent? The answer has to be no, because they have less access to education than we do and therefore it can be expected that the IQ will be lower.

  2. Accurately describe the four definitions of abnormality we have covered, include two weaknesses and ...

    It also doesn?t consider those who are on the verge of needing support, so if someone was at the bottom end of the ?average? scale, they could be about to fall further, and the assistance or intervention earlier on could have prevented the decline of that person?s health or behaviour.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work