Chapter I-A Primer on Abnormality
A. What is Abnormal Psychology?
It is a branch of psychology which deals with psychopathology (mental disorders) and abnormal behavior.
B. Why study abnormal psychology?
Abnormal behavior is part of our common experience
Lots of unanswered questions and complexities
Preparation for future careers
C. Why clarify the definition of mental disorder?
Influences what is seen as pathological
Influences explanation, classification and treatment
Clarifies the role of professionals
D. Ways of Defining Abnormality
a. Mental disorder as statistical deviance
A person has a mental disorder when their behavior, ability, or experience is significantly different from average.
Positive” deviations are not distinguished from “negative” deviations We do not want to call all “negative deviations a disorder.
b. Mental disorder as personal discomfort
A person has a mental disorder if they experience personal distress such as feelings of anxiety, depression, or emotional distress.
People we would consider definitely abnormal may not feel subjective discomfort.
c. Mental disorder as norm violation or social non-conformity
A person has a mental disorder if they exhibit behaviors that are inconsistent with the norms or values of society.
Many criminals are psychologically normal despite the fact that they are nonconformists. What may be normal for one culture may not be normal in another culture. There is a false belief that the society is always right and the nonconformist is always at fault.
E. Some Criteria for Abnormality
Maladaptive Behavior: Behavior that makes it difficult to function, to adapt to the environment, and to meet everyday demands
Significant impairment in psychological functioning: Those with mental illness lose the ability to control thoughts, behaviors, or feelings adequately.
Atypical behavior: behavior that is not typical of...
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