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Outline and evaluate attempts to define abnormality

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Outline and evaluate attempts to define abnormality Before psychologists can address an issue they have to name it, characterize it or be clear on what exactly it is that they?re dealing with. When it comes to ?abnormalities?, psychologists have been quite indecisive throughout history, as it is subjective to judgement, however it seems that a combination of characteristics and taking into consideration differences of situations, brings it a step closer to forming a true definition of the term ?abnormality?. One of the attempts to define and thereby recognize and treat abnormality is looking for ?deviation from social norms?, meaning someone who doesn?t follow the set standard behaviour that is socially and morally acceptable by society. ...read more.


However, this approach to defining abnormality has also been criticised as it depends on subjective assessments, is effected by cultural relativism and it doesn?t really differentiate abnormal behaviour from behaviour that is non-conformist, unconventional or just plain eccentric. Marie Jahoda (1958) suggested another definition which is that by looking for a lack of or a deviation from ideal mental health, which will highlight those who need treatment. According to Jahoda, there are six criteria that characterize an ideal mental health: 1. Positive self esteem and a strong sense of identity 2. Personal growth and development 3. ...read more.


Also, Jahoda came up with this definition by comparing mental health with physical health, looking at them as similar issues. However this may not be entirely effective, as mental illnesses can be as a result of life experiences rather than physical deficits and this would have to be dealt with differently. As all attempts to define abnormality are only successful to an extent and with rather strong weaknesses, a combination of methods is usually used and even if mistakes are made, they are helpful in making sure that in future it doesn?t happen again and knowledge is broadened thereby. ...read more.

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