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'Clinical assessment must also take a person's cultural background into account'- to what extent have definitions of abnormality been limited by cultural diversity?

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Amy Stuart-Cook 'Clinical assessment must also take a person's cultural background into account'- to what extent have definitions of abnormality been limited by cultural diversity? All ways of defining of abnormality are limited to a certain extent by cultural variations. This makes it difficult for psychologists to be sure that their definition technique would be effective and accurate in diagnosing all cases of abnormality. The main issue for psychologists regarding cultural diversity is that what may be considered normal in one place may be abnormal in another and therefore psychologist must consider this fact before making a diagnosis. Although the deviation from statistical norm and deviation from ideal mental health definitions are affected by cultural differences as I will discuss briefly later, it is the other two definitions which are affected on a larger scale. ...read more.


This problem was evident in the case of a number of African men who were often diagnosed with Schizophrenia in the Western world until it was found that their behaviour was completely acceptable in relation to the cultural rules they were used to living by. This definition is especially vulnerable to the limits of cultural of differences as it relies totally on social norms to judge normality and therefore it is most likely to be affected by cultural variations. The second definition which is strongly affected by cultural differences is the failure to function adequately approach. This approach by Rosenhan et al. suggests 7 standards which can be used to judge if a person is abnormal. These elements include suffering, unpredictability and irrationality. However, it is the observer discomfort and violation of moral and ideal standards that are most problematic to judge due to cultural differences. ...read more.


The deviation from statistical norm approach is also affected but just in that a person may be out the bounds of normality as some things are more common in certain cultures. The deviation from ideal mental health may also give an abnormal outcome simply because factors included in this definition are not goals strived by all cultures for a person to be normal. For example a collectivist society would not strive for total autonomy like people in Western society. In conclusion, therefore, all the definitions of abnormality are limited by cultural problems but to different extents. This cultural division problem means that experimentation is limited to one culture and therefore conclusions of investigations cannot be generalised effectively to incorporate many different cultures. Therefore it is difficult and possibly very inaccurate to judge people from other cultures by our standards and to class them as abnormal because of this. ...read more.

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