Defining Abnormality Essays

Defining Abnormality Essays

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Defining Abnormality


All of the definitions of abnormality that we have studied, have been
culturally specific, meaning that, what may possibly be classed as
normal in one culture, could be classed as extremely abnormal to
another. This problem of cultural relativism limits the definitions
accuracy in being able to define abnormality as a whole. It is near
impossible to make an absolute statement about what is normal, or
abnormal in human behaviour, purely because of cultural factors.

The four definitions we studied do not take cultural differences into
account. The Statistical Infrequency definition groups people
together, based on certain measured characteristics, and put this
information into a distribution pattern to classify whether people fit
into the 'average', or whether they fall outside the average, where
they are then deemed to be abnormal.

However, only certain characteristics can be measured, and this also
put forth the question of - which characteristics show abnormality?
This definition groups people together, and deals with statistics,
making the results broad and inconclusive. There is also the problem
of desirability in some of the factors, where something that could
possibly be seen as abnormal, is admired, and so people don't look
upon is as abnormal because they aspire to it.

The second definition, Deviation From Social Norms, explains that
society sets up its own moral standards, and rules for behaviour, and
people should abide by these, and if they don't, then they become
regarded as 'deviant' or abnormal. Yet different societies have
different standards, and different expectations to what they rega...


... middle of paper ...


... to seven times
more likely to be diagnosed in Afro-Caribbean men living in the UK
than in white men. So this also tells us that not only do cultures
need to be acknowledged, but also, subcultures.

However, all cultured want to support any individuals who experience
some kind of 'abnormal' behaviour, for example, not eating. Therefore
suggesting that there are some universal indicators of abnormality.

Despite this, if one of the four definitions had to be chosen, then
the Deviation From Ideal Mental Health idea would probably be the best
choice. This is because it treats people individually, instead of
grouping them together, and so there is less chance of cultural
differences being a problem.

However, in conclusion, none of the definitions can successfully
define abnormality successfully, because of culture.

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