• 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'' Outline and consider how definition of abnormality may be influenced by cultural differences.

Extracts from this document...


''Attempts to define abnormality are always limited by cultural differences'' Outline and consider how definition of abnormality may be influenced by cultural differences. (18marks) The four ways of trying to define abnormality all have their limitations. One of these limitations comes under Cultural Relativism. Culture is the learned and shared behaviours of members of a society. It includes social norms, values, attitudes and beliefs. These are all shared by that culture. This makes it difficult to define psychological abnormality in terms that can be universally applied. It is difficult to define abnormality in different cultures because each culture has its own ideas about what is normal and what is abnormal. People can only be classed as having a mental disorder only if it is classed as being a disorder in all cultures. Although me may think these people are abnormal, in their culture things like these are perfectly normal therefore we cannot call it abnormal behaviour. Homosexuality used to be classed as a mental disorder but ceased to be categorised as abnormal until 1980 with the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). So we can see that with time and different cultures specifications of abnormalities can change. The first method is defining abnormality is statistical in frequency. ...read more.


Ideas of mental health range between different cultures. In Sambia of New Guinea male youths are taught that females are poison and the males engage in prescribed unlimited fellatio. Also on the Island of Java, football is played with a ball, then socked in petrol and set alight. Deviation from social norms is based upon society's rules for behaviour, which are also known as moral standards. Abnormality can be seen as breaking society's standards or norms. In Russia people have been imprisoned if they did not follow a particular political belief. So we can see that abnormality has been used for social control. To our Western culture this doesn't happen very often if not, not at all. In Malinowski's (1929) culture bones of the dead relatives are cleaned and worn as ornaments, and this is social norm for Trobriand islanders but not for our Western culture, as we would see this as being very strange as we do not do it. On the plains of North America 'The Sun Dance' is held every summer for a period of four days and four nights. During this period the North Americans go without food and water, and dance throughout. The purpose was to secure support from the super natural, and if you hear voices from the Gods you are seen to be special (although as we see this is being on of the symptoms of schizophrenia in our Western Culture, people in North America sees this as being perfectly normal). ...read more.


Bizarreness: this example would also be seen as being bizarre to our Western Culture. The Trobriand people have two of the characteristics that define abnormality, but to them, they are perfectly sane to do that sort of thing. However psychological problems happen among minority groups, as the conditions they live in can be stressful. Fernado points this out alongside Cochrane. Cochrane points out that racism and prejudice can have an impact on their psychological well-being. Migration causes psychological problems for the minority groups as conditions are extremely horrendous, and the change they have to go through is also great. There is also much discrimination from racist people and all these cause mental health implications for new migrants, but their problems are mistaken as attributed to ethnicity. As well as there being cultures, there are also subcultures. Cochrane 1977 found out that Afro Caribbean's are 2 and 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than whites, but now we know this is because it's normal to hear these voices in their culture. This may be because of discrimination and stereotyping i.e. that black people are more violent. In conclusion, we can see that it is hard to define abnormality within different cultures as abnormality is seen differently in different cultures throughout all the definitions of abnormality. Also the white population set the social norms and so deviations are considered abnormal, so there is a Euro centric bias. Julie Sutton ...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)

    westerners, it does not mention culture bound syndromes, for example Koro which is found solely in South East Asia and Pibloqtoq which occurs mainly in cold climates e.g. Greenland Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. Many disorders in the DSM are specific only to western society; anorexia nervosa is extremely rare

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

    The concept of social deviancy also relies heavily on moral standards. However, the context in which these standards have been set is particularly important to consider. Morality changes with time and especially culture, as what may be deemed to acceptable/normal in one culture, may not be in another.

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

    likely prefer to believe that it cannot be caused by the way a child is raised. The biological model would be more satisfactory as science can be blamed rather than upbringing traditions. In these cultures it would be highly unlikely for a person to seek help from a psychiatrist.

  2. Psychological Abnormality

    But in other cases it can be a curse, example, when a father expresses distress over his son's homosexuality whereas the son feels perfectly comfortable with it. Another criterion is maladaptive ness. When ones behaviour prevents one from efficiently satisfying social and occupational roles, it is seen as being maladaptive.

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

    Just like having six toes is physically abnormal but is not a physical disability and physical abnormalities are in no way linked to physical disabilities. Another problem with this definition is what happens when the majority are abnormal. In America 52% of people have suffered/are suffering from depression but depression is still seen as a mental abnormality.

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

    IN addition, it further needs to be determined where to separate normality from abnormality. In the case of depression, any symptoms experienced by around 80% of the population are thought to be normal but those experienced by 20% would be defined as abnormal.

  1. The contents of this essay will explain different psychological approaches to health and social ...

    (Gross, 1991) Despite the fact that we do inherit certain components of our lives biologically, our behaviouristic style of life can dictate to our biology and the manner in which we respond (Gross, 1991). How? Well? if a male had a desire to become a female centred on his ideals

  2. Outline and evaluate attempts to define abnormality (12 marks)

    Much of our behaviour is context specific, and when it is placed out of context it may seem bizarre. For example, if you were walking through the park and someone sitting on a bench suddenly jumped up and started singing and dancing you would think it's odd.

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