• 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...


"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.


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.


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. Peer reviewed

    "Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences" Consider how definitions ...

    5 star(s)

    as abnormal as we would experience discomfort from watching this behaviour, whilst Native Americans take great joy in this activity and it us used as part of their celebrations. Other attempts to define abnormality are also limited by cultural differences, for example the DSM refers only to disorders found in

  2. "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.

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

    The treatment option of talking therapy may not be suitable to people of all cultures either. The idea of talking as a cure may not be taken as seriously as traditional medicine. Therefore less people would opt to follow this course of treatment.

  2. Psychological Abnormality

    An example is some mental disorders like substance-related disorders who are defined in terms of how the (ab)use of the substance (eg. Alcohol) produces social and occupational difficulties, such as marital problems and poor work performance. Davison and Neale (1994)

  1. Summary table of definitions of psychological abnormality.

    Deviation from social norms Definition: According to this definition, any behaviour, which differs from the behaviour which society normally expects, is defined as abnormal. Society has certain established "social norms" which are expectations about how "normal" people behave.

  2. ''Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences'' Outline and consider how ...

    Therefore it doesn't look like many Asians get depressed when they do, so this is the 1st major problem. This was said by Rack 1982. Another example would be 'Copsey 1997' who was a psychologist. He spent two years studying church's and minority religions.

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

    The main reason for this being, it is a very easy, cheap and quick way to see if someone is mentally abnormal. All you need is a couple of graphs. Of course this also raises the problem of whether the data being used is fair representation of the population, dose it take cultural differences into account e.g.

  2. One of the attempts to define abnormality is through the use of statistical infrequency. ...

    Therefore it is hard to work out if the symptoms experienced by 20% should be regarded as abnormal or should it be at a rate of 15%. The cut-off point needs to be decided upon and it is important to determine who should obtain treatment.

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