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Examine/ discuss the concepts of normality and abnormality

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´╗┐ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY Examine/ discuss the concepts of normality and abnormality First of all, it is difficult to define ?abnormal behaviour?, therefore difficult to diagnose as well Various definitions of abnormality Deviation from social norms One way to define abnormality is to consider when behaviour violates social norms or makes others anxious. However there is a flaw in this definition, depending what culture you are in will affect how people view social norms, what is seen as normal in one culture may be abnormal in another. Failure to function adequately Rosenhan and Seligman (1984): seven criteria that could be used to decide whether a person or a behaviour is normal or not. Maladaptiveness Observer discomfort Unpredictability Suffering Irrationality Vividness and unconventionality Violation of moral or ideal standards Deviation from ideal mental health Jahoda (1958): Very vague Efficient self-perception Realistic self-esteem and acceptance Voluntary control of behaviour True perception of the world Sustaining relationships and giving affection Self-direction and productivity Deviation from statistical norms Behavioural measures like intelligence and short-term memory tend to be normally distributed (distribution from a sample of people tends to fall within a bell-shaped curve) ...read more.


Frude (1998): few psychological disorders that can be associated to physiological reasons Pilowsky (2006) Neuropsychologists today have revealed possible chemical abnormality in the brain (temporal cortex) of people with Schizophrenia. However, brain scans haven?t yet provided an ultimate answer to the questions raised by Szasz What must happen for the classification system to be considered valid? Which symptoms would you look for when diagnosing someone with MHD? ROSENHAN (1973) Aim: To investigate whether psychiatrists were able to distinguish the difference between people who were genuinely mentally ill (insane) and those who weren?t (sane). To investigate the reliability of psychiatric diagnosis and the impact of labeling. Method Field experiment 8 healthy researchers (5 males, 3 females) including Rosenhan Attempted to gain admission to 12 different psychiatric hospitals All but one got in by saying they could hear voices Seven were diagnosed as having schizophrenia The only way to get out of the hospital was to convince the staff that they were sane (said they were fine, no longer experiencing the symptoms) Pseudo patients spent their time talking to other patients, making observations and notes of patients and staff Finding Each participant was ...read more.


pseudo patients would have gone into the study with a biased view about how the insane are treated and this could affect their views of how the real patients were treated. Subjective Ethical considerations- this experience of being treated with a label may have mentally hurt them Reductionist- reduces schizophrenia to an explanation of how labeling affects the patients negatively and how they conform to the label Cultural bias- this was done in the US, can?t generalize to other countries and also ethnocentric Small number of pseudo patients went into the hospitals, participated in the study Hawthorne affect- real patients could have changed their behaviour, as they may have known researchers of some kind were observing them Other studies He was not content with the findings of this study so he decided to investigate if abnormal individuals could be classified as normal. He told the staff at a psychiatric hospital that pseudo-patients would try to gain admittance. However no pseudo-patients appeared, but 41 real patients were judged with great confidence to be pseudo patients by at least one member of staff. Some of these genuine patients were suspected of being frauds. ...read more.

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