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Outline and evaluate two or more attempts to define abnormality.

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Abnormality Outline and evaluate two or more attempts to define abnormality Being 'abnormal' is defined as' deviating from what is normal or usual'. 'Normal', is conforming to a standard of some sort. There are several approaches to establish the standard. First, a standard can be defined in statistical terms - what most people are doing. Second, the standard can be defined in social terms - what is considered socially acceptable and, therefore, what is socially deviant. Third, we might use the standard of 'adequate functioning' - being able to cope with day-to-day living. Finally, there is the concept of ideal mental health - a state of contentment that we all strive to achieve. Statistical infrequency is based on the idea that certain behaviours are statistically rare in the population. This idea can be easily measured, for example, a person's IQ's. Statistics are easy to pick up and can also be grouped and evaluated easily. They also make no value judgements. Homosexuality is not judged as wrong or unacceptable, just less statistically frequent. On the other hand, there are many negative points to the statistical approach. It doesn't include any assessment of whether the statistically infrequent behaviour is desirable or not. The approach doesn't show how far away from the norm you need to be to be classed as abnormal. ...read more.


The model also has too much weight attached to sexual features. The psychodynamic model was the first systematic model of abnormality that focused specifically on psychological factors as the cause of mental disorder and on psychological forms of treatment. Before Freud, all explanations of mental illness were in terms of physical causes or ideas such as possession by evil spirits. Consider how attempts to define abnormality might be influenced by cultural differences Cultural relativism means that value judgements are relative to individual cultural contexts and we cannot make absolute statements about what is normal or abnormal in human behaviour. Notations of abnormality may vary from one culture to another, and within the same culture at different periods in history. We cannot judge behaviour properly unless it is viewed in the context of the culture in which it originates. The importance of cultural context can be seen in the seven features of abnormality proposed by Rosenhan and Seligman. Many of the features (for example, vividness and unconventional behaviour, irrationality incomprehensibility, observer discomfort) refer to behaviour that is defined by the social norms or expectations of the culture. On the other hand Rosenhan and Seligman identified some features that were universal indicators of undesirable behaviour - both for the individual concerned and those around them. ...read more.


Operant conditioning also comes in to play with the behavioural approach, as food avoidance can be rewarding or reinforcing, because it's a good way of gaining attention. It can also be rewarding or reinforcing in that those who are slim are more likely to be admired by other people, for example supermodels. This approach helps to provide some of the reasons why anorexics maintain their disorders. The cognitive approach argues that people with eating disorders typically have distorted views about body shape and weight, these are known as cognitive biases. Garfinkel and Garner (1982) found that anorexic patients typically over-estimate their body size. Distorted beliefs about body size and shape are even found in those who are not suffering from an eating disorder. Fallon and Rozin (1985) asked males and females to indicate their ideal body size and the body size that would be most attractive to the opposite sex. Females rated their ideal body weight as significantly lower than the weight males thought the most attractive, whereas males rated their ideal body weight as lower that the weight mist women found attractive. These differences place extra pressure on women to be slim. Females with anorexia overestimate their body size due to faulty thinking, but then again the faulty thinking is due to the anorexia. There are many factors which do cause anorexia nervosa, but it is impossible to pinpoint just one factor relating to a specific approach ...read more.

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