Saul McLeod published 2008, updated 2014
Abnormal psychology is a division of psychology that studies people who are "abnormal" or "atypical" compared to the members of a given society.
There is evidence that some psychological disorders are more common than was previously thought.
Depending on how data are gathered and how diagnoses are made, as many as 27% of some population groups may be suffering from depression at any one time (NIMH, 2001; data for older adults).
The definition of the word abnormal is simple enough but applying this to psychology poses a complex problem: what is normal? Whose norm? For what age? For what culture?
The concept of abnormality is imprecise and difficult to define. Examples of abnormality can take many different forms and involve different features, so that, what at first sight seem quite reasonable definitions, turns out to be quite problematical.
There are several different ways in which it is possible to define ‘abnormal’ as opposed to our ideas of what is ‘normal’.
Under this definition of abnormality, a person's trait, thinking or behavior is classified as abnormal if it is rare or statistically unusual. With this definition it is necessary to be clear about how rare a trait or behavior needs to be before we class it as abnormal
For instance one may say that an individual who has an IQ below or above the average level of IQ in society is abnormal.
However this definition obviously has limitations, it fails to recognize the desirability of the particular behavior.
Going back to the example, someone who has an IQ level above the normal average wouldn't necessarily be seen as abnormal, rather on the contrary they would be highly regarded for their intelligence.
This definition also implies that the presence of abnormal behavior in people should be rare or statistically unusual, which is not the case. Instead, any specific abnormal behavior may be unusual, but it is not unusual for people to exhibit some form of prolonged abnormal behavior at some point in their lives.
Strength: The statistical approach helps to address what is meant by normal in a statistical context. It helps us make cut – off points in terms of diagnosis.
Limitations: However, this definition fails to distinguish between desirable and undesirable behavior. For example, obesity is a statistically normal but not associated with healthy or desirable. Conversely high IQ is statistically abnormal, but may well be regarded as highly desirable.
Many rare behaviors or characteristics (e.g. left handedness) have no bearing on normality or abnormality. Some characteristics are regarded as abnormal even though they are quite frequent. Depression may affect 27% of elderly people (NIMH, 2001). This would make it common but that does not mean it isn’t a problem
The decision of where to start the "abnormal" classification is arbitrary. Who decides what is statistically rare and how do they decide? For example, if an IQ of 70 is the cut-off point, how can we justify saying someone with 69 is abnormal, and someone with 70 normal ?
Violation of Social Norms
Every culture has certain standards for acceptable behavior, or socially acceptable norms. Norms are expected ways of behaving in a society according to the majority and those members of a society who do not think and behave like everyone else break these norms so are often defined as abnormal.
Under this definition, a person's thinking or behavior is classified as abnormal if it violates the (unwritten) rules about what is expected or acceptable behavior in a particular social group. Their behavior may be incomprehensible to others or make others feel threatened or uncomfortable.
Social behavior varies markedly when different cultures are compared. For example, it is common in Southern Europe to stand much closer to strangers than in the UK. Voice pitch and volume, touching, direction of gaze and acceptable subjects for discussion have all been found to vary between cultures.
With this definition, it is necessary to consider: (i) The degree to which a norm is violated, the importance of that norm and the value attached by the social group to different sorts of violation. (ii) E.g. is the violation rude, eccentric, abnormal or criminal?
Limitations: The most obvious problem with defining abnormality using social norms is that there is no universal agreement over social norms. Social norms are culturally specific - they can differ significantly from one generation to the next and between different ethnic, regional and socio-economic groups. In some societies, such as the Zulu for example, hallucinations and screaming in the street are regarded as normal behavior.
Social norms also exist within a time frame, and therefore change over time. Behavior that was once seen as abnormal may, given time, become acceptable and vice versa. For example drink driving was once considered acceptable but is now seen as socially unacceptable whereas homosexuality has gone the other way. Until 1980 homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO) but today is considered acceptable.
Social norms can also depend on the situation or context we find ourselves in. Is it normal to eat parts of a dead body? In 1972 a rugby team who survived a plane crash in the snow-capped Andes of South America found themselves without food and in sub-freezing temperatures for 72 days. In order to survive they ate the bodies of those who had died in the crash.
Failure to Function Adequately
Under this definition, a person is considered abnormal if they are unable to cope with the demands of everyday life. They may be unable to perform the behaviors necessary for day-to-day living e.g. self-care, hold down a job, interact meaningfully with others, make themselves understood etc.
Rosenhan & Seligman (1989) suggest the following characteristics that define failure to function adequately:
o Maladaptiveness (danger to self)
o Vividness & unconventionality (stands out)
o Unpredictably & loss of control
o Causes observer discomfort
o Violates moral/social standards
One limitation of this definition is that apparently abnormal behavior may actually be helpful, function and adaptive for the individual. For example, a person who has the obsessive-compulsive disorder of hand-washing may find that the behavior makes him cheerful, happy and better able to cope with his day.
Many people engage in behavior that is maladaptive/harmful or threatening to self, but we don’t class them as abnormal
Smoking, drinking alcohol
Deviation from Ideal Mental Health
Under this definition, rather than defining what is abnormal, we define what is normal/ideal and anything that deviates from this is regarded as abnormal. This requires us to decide on the characteristics we consider necessary to mental health.
Jahoda (1958) defined six criteria by which mental health could be measured:
o Positive view of the self
o Capability for growth and development
o Autonomy and independence
o Accurate perception of reality
o Positive friendships and relationships
o Environmental mastery able to meet the varying demands of day-to-day situations
According to this approach, the more of these criteria are satisfied, the healthier the individual is.
Limitation: It is practically impossible for any individual to achieve all of the ideal characteristics all of the time. For example, a person might not be the ‘master of his environment’ but be happy with his situation. The absence of this criterion of ideal mental health hardly indicates he is suffering from a mental disorder.
Ethnocentric: Most definitions of psychological abnormality are devised by white, middle class men. It has been suggested that this may lead to disproportionate numbers of people from certain groups being diagnosed as "abnormal."
For example, in the UK, depression is more commonly identified in women, and black people are more likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Similarly, working class people are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than those from non manual backgrounds.
Perspectives in Abnormal Psychology
Behaviorists believe that our actions are determined largely by the experiences we have in life, rather than by underlying pathology of unconscious forces. Abnormality is therefore seen as the development of behavior patterns that are considered maladaptive (i.e. harmful) for the individual.
Behaviorism states that all behavior (including abnormal) is learned from the environment (nurture), and that all behavior that has been learnt can also be ‘unlearnt’ (which is how abnormal behavior is treated).
The emphasis of the behavioral approach is on the environment and how abnormal behavior is acquired, through classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning.
Classical conditioning has been said to account for the development of phobias. The feared object (e.g. spider or rat) is associated with a fear or anxiety sometime in the past. The conditioned stimulus subsequently evokes a powerful fear response characterized by avoidance of the feared object and the emotion of fear whenever the object is encountered.
Learning environments can reinforce (re: operant conditioning) problematic behaviors. E.g. an individual may be rewarded for being having panic attacks by receiving attention from family and friends – this would lead to the behavior being reinforced and increasing in later life.
Our society can also provide deviant maladaptive models that children identify with and imitate (re: social learning theory).
The cognitive approach assumes that a person’s thoughts are responsible for their behavior. The model deals with how information is processed in the brain and the impact of this on behavior.
The basic assumptions are:
Maladaptive behavior is caused by faulty and irrational cognitions.
It is the way you think about a problem, rather than the problem itself that causes mental disorders.
Individuals can overcome mental disorders by learning to use more appropriate cognitions.
The individual is an active processor of information. How a person, perceives, anticipates and evaluates events rather than the events themselves, which will have an impact on behavior. This is generally believed to be an automatic process, in other words we do not really think about it.
In people with psychological problems these thought processes tend to be negative and the cognitions (i.e. attributions, cognitive errors) made will be inaccurate:
These cognitions cause distortions in the way we see things; Ellis suggested it is through irrational thinking, while Beck proposed the cognitive triad.
Medical / Biological
The medical model of psychopathology believes that disorders have an organic or physical cause. The focus of this approach is on genetics, neurotransmitters, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, biochemistry etc.
For example, in terms of biochemistry – the dopamine hypothesis argues that elevated levels of dopamine are related to symptoms of schizophrenia.
The approach argues that mental disorders are related to the physical structure and functioning of the brain.
For example, differences in brain structure (abnormalities in the frontal and pre-frontal cortex, enlarged ventricles) have been identified in people with schizophrenia.
The main assumptions include Freud’s belief that abnormality came from the psychological causes rather than the physical causes, that unresolved conflicts between the id, ego and superego can all contribute to abnormality, for example:
- Weak ego: Well- adjusted people have a strong ego that is able to cope with the demands of both the id and the superego by allowing each to express itself at appropriate times. If, however, the ego is weakened, then either the id or the superego, whichever is stronger, may dominate the personality.
- Unchecked id impulses: If id impulses are unchecked they may be expressed in self-destructive and immoral behavior. This may lead to disorders such as conduct disorders in childhood and psychopathic [dangerously abnormal] behavior in adulthood.
- Too powerful superego: A superego that is too powerful, and therefore too harsh and inflexible in its moral values, will restrict the id to such an extent that the person will be deprived of even socially acceptable pleasures. According to Freud this would create neurosis, which could be expressed in the symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias and obsessions.
Freud also believed that early childhood experiences and unconscious motivation were responsible for disorders.
An Alternative View: Mental illness is a Social Construction
Since the 1960’s it has been argued by anti-psychiatrists that the entire notion of abnormality or mental disorder is merely a social construction used by society. Notable anti-psychiatrists were Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz and Franco Basaglia. Some observations made are;
- Mental illness is a social construct created by doctors. An illness must be an objectively demonstrable biological pathology, but psychiatric disorders are not.
- The criteria for mental illness is vague, subjective and open to misinterpretation criteria.
- The medical profession uses various labels eg. depressed, schizophrenic to exclude those whose behavior fails to conform to society’s norms.
- Labels and consequently treatment can be used as a form of social control and represent an abuse of power.
- Diagnosis raises issues of medical and ethical integrity because of financial and professional links with pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies.
Jahoda, M. (1958). Current concepts of positive mental health.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2001). Depression research at the National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml.
Rosenhan, D. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1989). Abnormal Psychology Second Edition. New York: W.W. Norton.
How to reference this article:
McLeod, S. A. (2014). Abnormal psychology. Retrieved www.simplypsychology.org/abnormal-psychology.html
Listen to a MIT undergraduate lecture on Defining Mental Illness.
Listen to a MIT undergraduate lecture on Causing Mental Illness.
BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on why some people have schizophrenia and others don't.
BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on David Rosenhan's Pseudo-Patient Study.
Clinical Assessment Procedures
DSM-IV Classification of Mental Disorders
Culture and Abnormality
Abnormal Psychology Models Summary
What has neuroscience ever done for us?
Abnormal Psychology Introduction
Abnormal Psychology Therapies
Outiline and Evaluate the Behavioural Model of Abnormality
...OUTLINE and EVALUATE the BEHAVIOURAL MODEL (explanation) of ABNORMALITY The basic assumption of the Behavioural Model is that all behaviour is learnt. This can happen in 3 ways: - Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning and Social Learning. Classical Conditioning is ‘learning through association’ e.g. a phobia of small spaces may develop when someone has been frightened having been trapped in a lift. They associate fear with small spaces. As demonstrated by the study on little albert by Watson and Rayners 1920. Before conditioning the loud noise was the unconditioned stimulus and led to fear and crying as an unconditioned response. The white rate was a neutral stimulus and there was no response. During conditioning the loud noise paired with the white rat let to fear and crying as such, after conditioning the white rat led to fear and crying. Operant Conditioning is ‘learning through the consequences of behaviour’. If behaviour is rewarded it will be reinforced. E.g. If a child’s tantrum is rewarded by sweets it will be maintained or increased but if it is punished it will decrease. This is known as direct reinforcement. Social Learning is when behaviour is observed and copied. E.g. a child might develop a fear of spiders by watching a parent being frightened by them. This is shown through the Bobo Doll studies by Bandura and Ross. In the study 3 groups of children watched a video in which they witnessed and adult aggressive towards a Bobo doll but......
Words: 525 - Pages: 3
Outline and Evaluate Research Into the Biological Approach to Abnormality
...biological approach to abnormality assumes that psychopathology is largely down to the four main physiological factors: infection, neuroanotmy, neurochemistry and genetics. Infection is the result of pathogens entering the blood stream and entering the blood brain barrier or the nervous system. These pathogens cause diseases of the brain. For example in 1900's 3rd stage syphilis caused dementia and finally death. However this part of the biological approach is a very small explanation of abnormality, and with large advancements modern medicine is becoming decreasingly unseen. Another issue is multi-finality. For example schizophrenia has been associated with the flu during pregnancy, however not every expectant mother with flu has a schizophrenic child. A lot of other factors are involved in the disease, and simply labelling flu as the only cause is going to cause issues in the understanding of multiple factors. Neuroanatomy refers to the different activities and structures of the brain regions and tissue. This is often tested through MRI scans of normal people and comparing to those mentally ill. One example is schizophrenia where the ventricles appear enlarged and the amount of grey matter in the brain is reduced. It is however hard to differentiate between causation and effect, as not knowing which proceeds which can only lead to guess work in terms of causation. Another issue is not every mentally ill person has the same structural abnormalities, and where one......
Words: 399 - Pages: 2
Outline and Evaluate Biological Approach to Stress
...Outline and evaluate the Biological approach to abnormality The biological approach suggests that psychological disorders should be treated medically, as this model puts forward the idea that any psychological abnormality is causes by genetic factors and body malfunctions. The model as 4 different elements that may be the cause of psychological abnormalities; viral infections, biochemistry, brain damage, genetic factors. Several studies have been carried out by different researchers to investigate the theories of the model. Biochemical elements, is one of the highly researched parts of this model, where Weinberger in 2002 carried out research that suggested the 22nd chromosome doubled the risk of developing schizophrenia, another study carried out by Zubieta in 2000, where PET scans helped figured out that 30% higher levels of dopamine, serotin and norepinephrine were i9n people with bipolar disorder. On the other hand Janowsky carried out a study to show how biochemical imbalances lead to manic depression. While souse carried out a study in 2010 where genomes of 1000 autistics and 1200 non autistic participants, results showed that autistic participants carry 20% more copy number variation which suggests that this may be caused due to genetics. The viral infections elements were also researched by brown in 2000 where findings suggested that there’s a link between respiratory infections and the second trimester of pregnancy, which may results in the foetus developing......
Words: 448 - Pages: 2
Outline and Evaluate Two or More Definitions of Abnormality
...One definition of abnormality is deviation from social norms. This refers to behaviour that deviates from the societal expectations of the culture the subject is part of. Examples of British social norms include behaviours like politeness and reserve. The main difficulty with this concept is that social norms change rapidly, so something that seems socially acceptable now may not have been socially acceptable a few years past. A second issue is how deviance is judges by context and degree. For instance someone who wears unusual clothing during their leisure time is unlikely to be considered psychologically abnormal also much as socially eccentric. A second definition is failure to function adequately. This refers to how a person’s alleged abnormality affects their ability to go about day-to-day existence. For example, someone with an eating disorder could be considered psychologically abnormal because it impedes their natural survival instinct to eat. One of the biggest problems with this definition is the question of who judges what does and does not affect a person’s ability to ‘function adequately’. Secondly there is the issue of how the definition of ‘functioning adequately’ can be applied cross-culturally. For instance someone from another culture may exhibit a behaviour which is consistent with this definition of abnormality in western culture, but would be perfectly normal in their own culture. The final definition is that of deviation from ideal mental health. Marie...
Words: 396 - Pages: 2
Outline and Evaluate the Behavioural Approach to Abnormality
...Outline and evaluate the behavioural approach to abnormality. The behavioural approach to abnormality focuses on observable behaviour not what is in the mind. This approach says that behaviour is learned through a process called conditioning. There are three types of conditioning these are; classical, operant and social learning. The first type of conditioning is classical. Classical conditioning says that behaviours are learnt through a stimulus-response association. This means when someone has an experience (stimulus) and it causes a reaction (response) then that person might associate that stimulus and response every time. For example if someone saw a snake (stimulus) and someone screamed (Response) then a child could associate snakes with screaming and become scared. Classical conditioning is believed to be the cause of phobias. This was shown in the study of Little Albert. The next type of conditioning is operant. Operant conditioning is the child being conditioned by reinforcement and reward/punishment. Operant conditioning is based on two types of reinforcement, positive and negative. Positive reinforcement is behaving in a particular way because it brings a rewarding feeling, whereas negative reinforcement is behaving in a particular way to avoid a punishing feeling. This was looked at by Skinner and was tested in experiments like Skinner’s rats and Pavlov’s dogs. This theory can be also used to explain conditions like OCD. This is because being tidy as...
Words: 556 - Pages: 3
Describe and Evaluate Two Definitions of Abnormality. in Your Answer You Must Refer to How Dr Padawl Might Explain Definitions of Abnormality to the Volunteers
...Dr Padawl wishes to explain to a group of hospital volunteers how psychologists try to make decisions about abnormality. Dr Padawl decides to start by explaining how abnormality is defined. Describe and evaluate two definitions of abnormality. In your answer you must refer to how Dr Padawl might explain definitions of abnormality to the volunteers. (12) Dr Padawl may start explaining that abnormality is defined as ‘deviation from a norm or a standard’, and that by labeling a person or behaviour as ‘abnormal’ implies something undesirable and requires change. One definition of abnormality that Dr Padawl could use is social norms. He could ask the volunteers to come up with some examples of what they think social norms are. Then provide them with the correct definition that every society sets up rules for behaviours based on moral standards. They can be explicit (i.e. breaking the law), or implicit (unwritten rules i.e. table manners), and breaking these laws would be considered as abnormal as they are seen as rare in the population. After doing so, Dr Padawl could consolidate by asking the volunteers to label their examples whether they are explicit or implicit. Dr Padawl may also wish to evaluate social norms as a definition of abnormality. One weakness is that cross-cultural misunderstandings are common, as a behaviour that is considered as normal in one society may be seen as abnormal in another, due to cultures and time. i.e. homosexuality was considered as...
Words: 531 - Pages: 3
Outline and Evaluate the Behavioural Approach to Psychopathology
...Outline and evaluate the behavioural approach to psychopathology (12 marks) One assumption of the behavioural approach is that only behaviour is important and that this behaviour is learned through experience. The processes of this learning include classical conditioning where associations are made between one thing and the other. Operant conditioning where abnormal behaviour is reinforced or the social learning theory (SLT) where abnormal behaviours are learnt vicariously. For example, a child may observe its mother obsessively cleaning the house and being praised by the father for doing so. This consequence (e.g. praise) may be enough to initiate the same abnormal behaviour (e.g. OCD) in the child. The behaviourist approach assumes that abnormal behaviours that have been learnt can be unlearnt using the same processes (operant conditioning, classical conditioning and SLT). So, undesirable or abnormal behaviour e.g. a phobia, can be replaced with more desirable or normal behavior using therapies such as systematic desensitisation. One strength of the behavioural approach is that therapy can focus directly on the client's maladaptive behaviour. For example, if a patient suffers from arachnophobia then the treatment can be directed solely towards getting rid of the fear of spiders instead of referring to the client's previous or medical history. This shows that changing the behaviour from maladaptive to adaptive is sufficient for a......
Words: 413 - Pages: 2
Outline and Evaluate Definitions of Abnormality
...Outline and evaluate definitions of abnormality The first definition of abnormality is deviation from the social norm. This means that the person is not conforming to the expected and accepted patterns of behaviour in society. There are two types of social norms which can be broken by ‘not normal’ patterns of behaviour, Implicit and Explicit. Implicit rules are those which are implied, for example using cutlery to eat a roast dinner. Whilst there is no law stating that this must be done, it would be deemed unusual by other members of society. The other rule, explicit, refers to stated rules, for example the law. One example of an individual breaking an explicit rule would be committing Murder. There are however several issues with using deviation from social norm to determine abnormality. The first being cultural relativism, meaning social norms vary between cultures. For example in many African-American tribes, hearing the voices of the recently deceased is seen as a blessing. In the west, it is diagnosed as schizophrenia. Further to this, the definition does not allow for eccentric behaviour, which does not necessarily mean a person is mentally ill, ie. A rugby streaker may not be abnormal, but may just seek attention. A final drawback to this approach is that it does not define the difference between a criminal and a person with a mental health issue. A burglar, for example, may simply have a criminal mind but not be abnormal. The second definition of abnormality is...
Words: 631 - Pages: 3
Outline and Evaluate the Behavioural Approach to Psychopathology
...Outline and Evaluate the Behavioural Approach to Psychopathology The behaviourist approach assumes that all behaviours are learnt. It suggests that there are three ways in which this learning can happen, these are classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning. The first method is classical conditioning this is when behaviour is learnt through association; via a stimulus and a response. This is an explanation for phobias, an abnormal behaviour can be learned by associating an environmental stimulus; a dog, with a biological response; fear and pain when bitten by the dog. Therefore, every time a person previously bitten by a dog sees a dog, they experience the same fear they felt when being bitten. Thus, the person would develop a phobia of dogs. Another example is, the fear of small spaces, this may develop if fear is felt in a situation involving a small space – an elevator for example. Therefore a past distressing event in the elevator may lead to associating fear with small spaces. The second way is operant conditioning, this is when behaviour is learnt through positive reinforcement; rewarded by a pleasant outcome or a negative reinforcement; rewarded by the removal of the unpleasant condition. This can be associated to abnormalities like anorexia for example. If a person is dieting and they then begin to gain compliments from the weight loss, these compliments act as a positive reinforcement and they will carry on behaving the same way. If this were......
Words: 602 - Pages: 3
Describe and Evaluate One or More Definitions of Abnormality
...Describe and Evaluate one or more definitions of Abnormality One definition of Abnormality is deviation of Social Norms. Social norms are accepted ways of behaving within a society. They are the unwritten rules that members of a society regard as being normal and acceptable, and any deviation from them can be regarded as abnormal behaviour. Examples include ways of dressing, such as women wearing feminine clothing and men wearing masculine clothing, not appearing naked in public, saying 'please' and 'thank you', opening doors for women and elderly people etc. Social norms may, however, vary between cultures - clothing is an example of this as some African tribes wear very little clothing whereas Western cultures keep certain areas of the body covered at all times. The problem with defining abnormality as deviation from social norms is that probably the majority of behaviour that deviates from social norms is unlikely to represent mental illness. Eccentric behaviours, for example the case of John Slater (Weekes & James, 1995) who lived in a cave that was often flooded by seawater because the open space helped him think more clearly, are not necessarily abnormal to the extent that health is harmed. A limitation of deviation from social norms is that different cultures behave in different ways in the same situation. Western cultures may experience a different social display of grief for a bereavement when compared with Indian or African cultures. Another would be that......
Words: 617 - Pages: 3
Outline and Evaluate Two or More Definitions of Abnormality
...Outline and evaluate two or more definitions of abnormality? (12 Marks) Deviation from social norms is a definition of abnormality. The word ‘deviation’ in this definition is referring to deviant behaviour (behaviour which is considered anti-social or undesirable by the majority of society members). In society there are social norms (standards of acceptable behaviour that are set by the social group). These standards are often in place for good reason. An example of a social norm is politeness as this is the start of interpersonal relations. People who are being rude or are behaving in an anti-social way because others find it difficult to interact with them. Social standards are not restricted to rules of etiquette but also more serious issues, such as what is acceptable in sexual behaviour. Our culture permits sex between consenting adults of any gender but regards some other behaviours as sexually deviant. For example in the past homosexuality was classified as deviant behaviour in the UK but nowadays it isn’t so things change with time. The main difficulty with the deviation from social norms is that it varies as times change. So what is socially acceptable now may not have been acceptable 50 years ago. In our time now homosexuality is acceptable but in the past it was included under sexual and gender identity disorders. Its something like in Russia 50 years ago, anyone who disagreed with state ran the risk of being regarded as insane and placed in a mental institution...
Words: 487 - Pages: 2
Outline and Evaluate Two Definitions of Social Class
...One definition of social class is the Marxist perspective which states that social class is an economic concept which relates to the way in which society organises its production. Marx said that there are two social classes the upper/ ruling class and the working/subject class, also know as the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariats. The upper class owns means of production such as facotires, machinery and land and also maintain a power due to this, over the working class because the working class only own their labour power. The working class have such thing called a false class consciousness which is where they have a false awareness of the fact that they are being exploited by the ruling class, this exploitation is in the manner of money. Children who are born within a working class family develop their sense of Another definition of social class is in the Neo Marxist view .Bourdieu stated that there are different capitals which could indicate your positon in a social class. The economic capital depends on your weath, financial income and inheritace. Economic capital is usually higher among the upper class because of higher paid jobs. Cultural capital is the cultural awareness one maintains and is also to do with education and is harder to achieve due to defing and quantifiable information. Culutral capital is usually passed on through the generationweiofj • Social capital –relationships and networks with others along with contacts. • More dependant on social......
Words: 288 - Pages: 2
Three Definitions of Abnormality
...Three Definitions of Abnormality 1. Deviation from social norms Abnormality can be defined as a deviation from social norms This means that we label people as abnormal if their behaviour is different from what we accept as the norms of society. Some social norms are explicit, which means they are legal written laws. While other social norms are implicit and are unwritten, or unspoken rules in society. If people break these rules, then they are deviating away from social norms and therefore, could be labeled as abnormal. This definition of abnormality can be applied to certain behaviours. For example, a type of behaviour that breaks implicit rules could be standing too close to another person in a face to face conversation, or dressing to a particular dress code. While explicit rule breaking can also include criminal behaviour. According to this definition anyone who break a social norm is abnormal. Limitations • Behaviour might deviate from social norms due to ‘eccentricity’ rather than abnormality. Therefore according to this definition people who break implicit social norms may be wrongly labelled abnormal. • Behaviour may appear to deviate from social norms because it has been taken out of context, rather than being due to abnormality. This is a problem because it may lead to individuals being wrongly identified as abnormal. • Social norms change over time and therefore it is problematic to determine abnormality as a deviation from......
Words: 860 - Pages: 4
Critically Consider Definitions of Abnormality
...‘Critically consider definitions of abnormality’ Abnormal psychology (or psychopathology) deals with sets of behaviors or symptoms that produce a functional impairment in people’s lives. There are many definitions to consider in Abnormality, and below i have stated them. Statistical Infrequency.In this definition of abnormality, behaviors which are seen as statistically rare, are said to be abnormal. However this definition obviously has limitations, it fails to recognize the desirability of the particular behavior. This definition also implies that the presence of abnormal behavior in people should be rare or statistically unusual, which is not the case. Instead, any specific abnormal behavior may be unusual, but it is not unusual for people to experience some form of prolonged abnormal behavior at some point in their lives. Deviation from Social Norms defines the departure or deviation of an individual, from society's norms. For example if some was to witness a man running around nude on the streets, the man would be perceived as abnormal, as he has broken society's norms about wearing clothing. There are also a number of factors to be examined before reaching a judgment as to whether someone has deviated from society's norms. The first of these factors being culture. What may be seen as normal in one culture, may be seen as abnormal in another. The second factor being the situation & context the person is placed in. For example going to the toilet is a......
Words: 448 - Pages: 2
Evaluate the Psychodynamic Approach to Abnormality.
...Evaluate the psychodynamic approach to abnormality. (6) The psychodynamic model was created by Freud (1856-1939). The core assumption of this approach is that the roots of mental disorders are psychological. They lie in the unconscious mind and are the result the failure of defence mechanisms to protect the self (or ego) from anxiety. If the superego, ego and id are out of balance then the individual is considered to be abnormal. For example, a patient who has symptoms of anxiety would be encouraged to explore his past in order to discover problems occurring during one of the psychosexual stages (oral, anal, phallic and genital). In order to deal with this problem the patient has used ego-defence mechanisms, such as repression or denial. The psychodynamic model has a number of strengths. One of these strengths are that many people with psychological disturbances do recollect childhood traumas which therefore can be resolved by this method. Also, by developing a method of treatment, Freud encouraged a more optimistic view regarding psychological distress. Mental illness could, in some cases at least, be treated. Also, this is the only approach to focus on the underlying causes of the disorders rather than the symptoms they create. This approach believes abnormality is the result of hidden things in the unconscious, and tries to uncover what is hidden. By attempting to deal with the cause, longer-lasting recovery is more possible. The weaknesses of the psychoanalytic......
Words: 325 - Pages: 2