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Abnormal Psychology The Study of Psychopathology Abnormal Psychology The Study of Psychopathology.

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Presentation on theme: "Abnormal Psychology The Study of Psychopathology Abnormal Psychology The Study of Psychopathology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Abnormal Psychology The Study of Psychopathology Abnormal Psychology The Study of Psychopathology

2  The study of abnormal thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.  “Psycho” refers to “mind.”  Derives from the Greek “Psyche” for “soul.”  “Pathology” refers to “disease.”

3 The study of abnormal  Thoughts  Hearing voices  Behaviours  Starting to undress in public  Feelings  Overwhelming sense of sadness

4 Definitions of Abnormality

5 Behaviour that is seen as a deviation from social norms. Deviation from the rules regulating how one should behave are seen as undesirable by the majority of societies members.

6  Standards of acceptable behaviour  Expectations of behaviour  Set by a social group  Carried out by a social group

7 What is a ‘Norm’?  Politeness [Desirable ‘norm’]  Aggressiveness [Undesirable ‘norm’]  Refers to deviant behaviour, anti social behaviour or undesirable behaviour  Behaviour is considered to be abnormal if ‘Society’ or the majority considers it unacceptable or undesirable

8 Social ‘norms’ change over time  Acceptable to not acceptable  Drinking and driving  Smoking  Not acceptable to acceptable  Homosexuality  Having children out of wedlock

9 The context and the degree of the behaviour have to be considered  No clear distinction between what is an abnormal deviation from a social norm  Context of behaviour:  Wearing a bathing suit on a beach would be considered normal  Wearing a bathing suit to do your weekly shopping would be considered abnormal [simplistic and odd conduct]  Degree of behaviour:  Being rude would be considered deviant  But how rude does one have to become before such behaviour is considered pathological?

10 Social norms are influence and defined by culture  For instance Margaret Mead [1935] studied a number of tribes who lived in New Guinea  The Arapesh were described as being gentle, loving and cooperative. Boys and girls were reared to attain both masculine and feminine characteristics. Both parents were said to bear a child and males took to their beds when their child was born Babes were looked after by males and females and treated gently.  The Mundugumor were described as ex-cannibals and as assertive, fierce and aggressive. Both genders disliked matters related to childbearing and child rearing. Babies were often hung in scratchy baskets in dark places and were ignored when they cried.  What might happen if a family from any one of the tribes went to live in another tribe and how might their behaviour be described by the dominant culture?

11  Mental Illness is culturally relative  Behaviour only makes sense when viewed within the originating culture  Abnormality cannot be judged without reference to the standards of the culture where the behaivour arose  A diagnosis of mental illness may be different for the same person in two different cultures:  Cochrane [1977] found that Afro- Caribbean immigrants in the UK were more likely to be diagnosed as schizophrenics than whites. This high diagnosis for Afro-Caribbean’s is only found in the UK and not other countries

12  Social deviance cannot offer a complete definition of abnormality because social norms change over time  Mental health professional would be able to classify anyone who transgressed a social norm as being mentally ill  Mental illness would be defined in terms of the social moral and attitudes of the time and may be subject to abuse  Social deviance cannot offer a complete definition of abnormality as both context and the degree of behaviour has to be considered  If context is considered behaviour may be nothing more than harmless eccentricity  When the degree of a behaviour is considered there is no clear line between what is an abnormal deviation

13  Social norms are influenced and defined by a culture and therefore behaviour only makes sense when viewed within the originating culture  Abnormality cannot be judged without reference to the standards of the culture where the behaivour arose  Therefore abnormal behaviour is culturally relative


15 Abnormal behaviour is judged in terms of being able to function adequately. Healthy people are judged as being able to operate within certain acceptable limits. If abnormal behaviour interferes with adequate functioning then one is considered abnormal.

16  Individuals who cannot look after themselves or who are perceived to be irrational or out of control, are oft viewed as dysfunctional

17  Rosenhan and Seligman [1989] propose seven major features that appear in abnormal behaviour as opposed to normal behaviour:  SUFFERING: Most abnormal individuals report that they are suffering  MALADPTIVENESS: Maladaptive behaviour that prevents an individual from achieving, from having fulfilling relationships, working effectively  UNCONVENTIONALITY: Demonstrating unconventional behaviour which is unusual and differs from the way in which you would expect people to behave in similar situations  LOSS OF CONTROL: You can usually predict what most people would do in a situation. Dysfunctional behaviour is unpredictable  IRRATIONAL: There is no reason why a person is behaving in a specific way  OBSERVER DISCOMFORT: Behaviour is governed by unspoken rules about how we should behave. When others break these we experience discomfort  VIOLATION OF MORAL STANDARDS: When moral standards are violated this behaviour may be judged as abnormal or dysfunctional

18  Who decides what is meant by ‘failure to function adequately’? [The individual or others?]  Some dysfunctional behaviours maybe seen as adaptive and functional for the individual [Eating disorders and depression may lead to extra attention]  Unusual behaviour may be a coping strategy for those who are experiencing a difficult period in their lives  Ideas relating to ‘functioning adequately’ are culturally relative. You cannot use the standard of one culture to judge or measure the behaviour of another


20 Abnormality is seen as deviating from an ideal positive mental health. Ideal mental health would be seen as having a positive attitude towards the self, resistance to stress and, an accurate perception of reality.

21  Abnormality can be diagnosed the same as physical ill health  Reviewed what others had written about mental health and proposes that the absence of the following criteria indicates abnormality or a mental disorder  Self attitude : having high self-esteem and a strong sense of identity  Personal growth and self-actualisation: the extent to which a person develops their full capabilities  Integration, such as being able to cope with stressful situations  Autonomy : being independent and self regulating  Having an accurate perception or reality  Master of the environment : Including the ability to love, function at work and interpersonal relations, adjust to new situations and solve problems

22  Who can achieve all this criteria?  How many do we need to be lacking before one is judged as abnormal?  Is mental health the same as physical health?  Can it be diagnosed the same?  This model is culturally relative, for instance the idea of self actualisation is relevant to individualistic cultures


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