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

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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.

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