The Four Main Approaches to Defining Abnormality Essay

The Four Main Approaches to Defining Abnormality Essay

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The Four Main Approaches to Defining Abnormality

The statistical approach to defining abnormality analyses data
collected from a population of people, and highlights rare and
un-typical behaviour, which is then labelled abnormal.

For a certain behaviour to be labelled ‘normal’ in a statistical point
of view, it needs to be an average behaviour performed by the
population in question. This is why labelling behaviours from culture
to culture and place-to-place is very hard, as different places have
different standards and morals to which you are expected to abide by.

To statistically define a behaviour as ‘abnormal’, the percentage of
people in a population exhibiting this particular behaviour must be
10% or less.

Evaluating The Statistical Approach.

One criticism of the statistical approach is that it overlooks the
opposite behaviours to abnormal behaviours. E.g. being very unhappy or
severely depressed is seen as being abnormal, but is being very happy
all the time normal? According to the statistical approach, being
happy all the time is seen as the desired and normal behaviour. In
other words, it ignores desired levels of the behaviour, or a median
value in the scale of normality and abnormality.

Due to high levels of some disorders and behaviours in some
populations, things like chicken pox, anxiety and depression are
statistically ‘normal’, but is this right, or just a fault in the
method of the statistical approach?

There are also problems with taking averages of behaviours from whole
populations and then trying to relate them to specific groups (E.g.
ages or genders, or even different countries) because in d...

... middle of paper ...


4) Autonomy – how much a person is independent of social influences

5) Perception of reality – distortion in perception of reality?

6) Environmental mastery – success and adaptiveness? Including the
ability to love, work and play.

Evaluating The Deviation From Ideal Mental Health Approach

This approach is a positive approach, looking at mentally healthy, not
mentally ill people. Results are bound to culture and the historic

One criticism is that the criteria are hard to define, and the ideals
are only related to our particular culture, and how can we rate a
perception of reality? Finally, an interesting fact shown: if few
people statistically ever achieve ideal mental health, are they the
abnormal ones, or are the rest of us?

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