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Defining Abnormality - Towards a definition

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Defining Abnormality 4 TYPES Statistical Infrequency The statistical approach is based on the idea that certain behaviours are statistically rare in the population. If you measure any type of human behaviour you should find that people with varying degrees of the behaviour are normally distributed around the mean. For example there are a lot of people who are of average height but few people who are very small. If we plot a graph of for example IQ scores, It is bell shaped. The majority of individuals are clustered around the mean (the curves highest point). The further you go away from the mean, the fewer people there are. Problems Desirability-some statistically infrequent behaviours, e.g. ...read more.


Sub Cultures-for example in the Mormon religion it is acceptable to have several wives. In England that is a crime called bigamy Good/Bad-in some certain circumstances being socially deviant is a good thing for example in Nazi Germany people who were opposed to Nazism were socially deviant. Failure to Function adequately Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) suggested seven features of abnormality. Each of which on their own may not be sufficient to cause problem, but when several are present then they are symptomatic of abnormality. * Suffering- most abnormal individuals report that they are suffering. * Maladaptiveness- behaviour that prevents an individual from achieving major life goals such as enjoying good relationships. * Vividness and unconventionality of behaviour- behaviour that is relatively unusual. ...read more.


Can be assessed as the ability to cope with stressful situations * Autonomy-the degree to which an individual is independent * Perception of reality-how the person perceives their surroundings and themselves and how true this is. * Environmental mastery-The extent to which an individual is successful and well adapted. This includes the ability to love, work and play. Problems Collectivistic cultures-cultures which emphasise the greater good of the community rather than focusing on individual achievement would not find the first three characteristics relevant. Difficult-most people would have difficulty fitting all these criteria at most times in their lives. Cultural relativism A limitation to all ways of defining abnormality is that no definition is relevant to all cultures. Also cultures definitions change over time. For example Homosexuality was considered to be a mental disease till the 80's ...read more.

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