“Abnormality is very difficult to define. It can be hard to decide where normal behaviour ends and abnormal behaviour begins”
Discuss two or more definitions of abnormality
AO1 = 6 marks Knowledge and understanding of definitions of abnormality.
AO2 = 6 marks Commentary on definitions of abnormality.
The term ‘abnormal’ means deviating from the average. Therefore, if we were to adopt a literal approach to defining abnormality, we would conclude that any rare behaviour or ability was abnormal. This, however, is not a useful way of defining abnormality as it doesn’t take into account whether or not the behaviour is desirable. There are three ways of defining abnormality; deviation from …show more content…
They are learnt through socialisation, that is, we pick them up from others around us during childhood.
Deviation from social norms can be a useful way to identify mental problems. We learn what to expect from individuals, and if their behaviour drastically deviates from this we become concerned on their behalf. For example, people with clinical depression are oft4en unable to motivate themselves to seek assistance and therefore depend on others to summon help.
The strengths of this explanation are that the model distinguishes between desirable and undesirable behaviour. The social deviancy model also takes into account the effect behaviour has on others. Deviances is defined in transgression of social rules and ideally social rules are established in order to help people live together. Behaviour that is deviant is socially unacceptable for the rest of us. This way of defining the abnormality takes account of the greater good of society. According to this definition abnormal behaviour is behaviour that damages others.
On the other hand, the weaknesses are that societies change over time and so therefore do their norms; because of this we cannot use opinions held in the past to judge a behaviour as deviant. It must be based on present day thinking. For example; in the 1970s homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder in the diagnostic and statistical manual (the DSM is the main classification and diagnosis system for mental illness used