Free «What is abnormality?» Essay Sample


In many ways, abnormality may sound quite simple to define. However, the fact is that there are a number of techniques used in classifying it by psychologists. In all these techniques, there are strengths as well as weaknesses. Consequently, there is no exact way that can be used in describing the condition. Though it can be simply defined as a deviation from the norm, its application to the concept of psychology creates a difficult situation.

Statistical Deviation

One of the simple ways in which abnormality can be defined is statistical deviation. In this regard, a behavior that appears not to occur in a given context can be defined as abnormal. This is because when the IQ is used for measuring intelligence, numbers can be used to obtain the means (Nairme, 2009). It means that a majority of individuals are able get an average number, with few individuals scoring extremes. As a result, an abnormal behavior is usually attributed to mental illnesses. However, it ought to be noted that not all statistically intermittent behaviors can be considered to be mental ineptitude (Nairme, 2009).



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Deviation from Social Norm

By and large, the aspect of a social norm is largely the unrecorded regulation that governs behavior is a particular social context. One of the key strengths of using this technique to define abnormality is because of the fact that it takes into account the social dimension. Additionally, for cultural relativism, which is the way societal norms change over a period of time between cultures, the particular consideration is given (Nairme, 2009). The definition also steers clear of ethnocentrism, which is the tendency to regard one’s culture as “normal” and therefore see dissimilar cultures as being not normal.

The problem with this kind of technique is that is does not particularly present an objective definition of abnormality. Additionally, it can lead to prejudice or discrimination against people who do not conform to this idea. This is possible especially when people are labeled as mentally ill if they do not abide by a widespread political belief (Nairme, 2009).

Medical Disorder

Abnormality can also be the result of physical disease. It can be a symptom of medical disorder. For instance, in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, one can be termed as abnormal since it is a disease that mainly affects the brain, thus leaving an individual to suffer from difficulties in concentration (Flanagan, 2008). This leads to absent-mindedness, delusion and irritability. With the deterioration of memory, death is likely to occur between 10 and 12 years after the onset of symptoms.

Deviation from Ideals

According to this approach, one needs to specify what an “ideal” personality actually is. As a result, in case an individual falls short of the specified ideal conditions, then one can be termed as abnormal. This specification is not easy for psychological use since an individual may be seen as “abnormal” even though they may function well (Flanagan, 2008).

Problems Regarding the Definitions of Abnormality

In most cases, there are usually some exceptions with each approach, or with the “counter- examples”. Therefore, it is vital to identify the counter examples, because it goes a long way in uncovering the logical flaws regarding the definitions (Nairme, 2009). The first one concerns the statistical deviation. In this case, a genius can be easily termed as abnormal.

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In this regard, relying on means and deviations unreservedly sets up the identity of an average individual. So, does it mean that average is the ideal? Does it also mean that deviation from the average is a sign of abnormality? In many ways, most of the wonderful discoveries made in the history of mankind were done by 6people who were able to take chances and attempted to do new things. By and large, deviations are able to lead to flexibility as well as progress.

Social Norm Violations

Regarding social norm violations, the society would definitely label all the social reformers as abnormal. For instance, somebody who rejects all the norms of the society would be termed as abnormal. Additionally, in a single society as wide as the United States, there are usually a multitude of cultures (Flanagan, 2008).

It is also worth mentioning that norms are likely to revolutionize over an interlude of time. It means that cultures that could be considered normal in one generation may be seen as abnormal in another. Again, in a single society where there are no clear norms that cut across everyone, definitional positions that imply that normality is the same as conformity to the mainstream is complex since there are several mainstream.

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Maladaptive Behavior

The position taken by maladaptive behavior actually does not consider the likelihood that there may be abnormal situations. For instance, when a woman is not able to cope up with a husband who abuses her, there is a risk of her being blamed the victim and being called abnormal (Nairme, 2009).

Personal Distress

When someone is said to have the abnormal behavior that causes him or her to be in a distress or discomfort, it logically follows that a mass murder, for example, is normal. It happens due to the fact that most of these people do not feel any guilt about the violent actions they are performing. It should also be noted that distress may not always be an awful thing. Conceivably, people who are able to express their depression, or other forms of distress may end up dealing with their challenges in a much better way.

Relevant Treatments and Therapies of Abnormality

There are drugs which have been found to be effective in the treatment of mental illnesses. In most cases, they function by altering the quantity of a neurotransmitter which is obtainable at a synapse. When such drugs are used in a right way, they may prevent certain behaviors (Flanagan, 2008). One of the neurotransmitters that are involved in depression is serotonin. On other hand, stress, high blood pressure, as well as anxiety can be treated using benzodiazepine.

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Psychodynamic Treatments

Also known as psychotherapy, psychodynamic treatments are based on three main treatments namely; dream analysis, free association and transference. When it comes to dream analysis, a patient ought to inform a therapist about their dreams. In this way, the therapist will be in a position of reading between the lines, the meanings of the dreams. The only challenge with this kind of therapy is that one may not interpret the meanings of the dreams, in addition to the fact that the patient may forget the dreams (Flanagan, 2008).

On the issue of free association, a patient is always allowed to “let their mind wander”. In this regard, the therapist has to seek for patterns of association and read between the lines. However, the treatment by means of free associations has a weakness of lying or giving inaccurate information from their memories. As for the transference method, a therapist stands in for a vital person in the life of a patient. In this regard, the patient is able to project their feelings about this individual onto the therapist without necessarily harming the real individual.

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By and large, the issue of abnormality is still a philosophical debate in spite of the ambiguity of the definitions. This is due to the mere fact that intrinsic nonscientific uncertainties are likely to arise. In conclusion, the definitions used in this paper are largely multifaceted, in spite of having individual shortcomings as well as mutual incompatibilities. 


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