The Psychology Of Abnormal Behavior

normal behavior definition psychology

In terms of psychology, distress would be when there are thoughts feelings or behavior that cause functional impairment. In other words, at some level the distress gets in the way of everyday life. Perhaps the person with the facial piercings is quite comfortable with themselves and thus the behavior does not cause stress just because it is different. There really is no way to get around arson as not being a behavior that is distressful. Medical models point to distorted brain chemistry, illness, or hormonal imbalances as potential causes of abnormal psychology. For example, schizophrenia seems to have a genetic root, and schizophrenic behavior could be characterized as being caused by abnormal genes.

What we are manipulating is what treatment the groups get – no treatment, the older treatment, and the newer treatment. The first two groups serve as controls since we already know what to expect from their results. There should be no change in bipolar disorder symptoms in the no-treatment group, a general reduction in symptoms for the older treatment group, and the same or better performance for the newer treatment group. As long as patients in the newer treatment group do not perform worse than their older treatment counterparts, we can say the new drug is a success. You might wonder why we would get excited about the performance of the new drug being the same as the old drug. In terms of a reduction of symptoms, maybe not, but it could cost less money than the older drug and that would be of value to patients.

normal behavior definition psychology

Psychology worked with the disease model for over 60 years, from about the late 1800s into the middle part of the 20th century. The focus was simple – curing mental disorders – and included such pioneers as Freud, Adler, Klein, Jung, and Erickson. These names are synonymous with the psychoanalytical school of thought. Simply, human behavior could be modified if the correct combination of reinforcements and punishments were used. This viewpoint espoused the dominant worldview of the time – mechanism – which presented the world as a great machine explained through the principles of physics and chemistry.

Chemotherapy is also regarded as effective and the main treatment of mental illnesses because of the assumption that chemical balance is the main cause of the problem. However, some psychologists have disagreed, and assume that the chemical imbalance to be the effect, rather than the cause of mental problems. For the Psychodynamic model, Freud developed a method of treatment called psychoanalysis, which is a type of therapy that seeks to uncover the underlying causes of abnormal behavior. The belief was that unresolved emotional conflicts from early childhood could be withdrawn. Therefore, by talking to bring out and work through unconscious conflicts would bring it out to the conscious level and be dealt with accordingly. It is also believed within the psychodynamic theory, that the unconscious can be revealed in dreams, so analysis of dreams is one of the techniques used in the treatment of mental disorders in psychodynamic theory. Though not part of the DSM 5’s conceptualization of what abnormal behavior is, many clinicians add a 4th D – dangerousness to this list.

Statistical Normality

Abnormality is the significant deviation from commonly accepted patterns of behavior, emotion or thought, while normality is the absence of illness and the presence of state of well being otherwise called normalcy. Some people cope with these feelings by engaging in behaviors that some people would consider odd. For example, a person who feels anxious about germs might wash their hands over and over again. It has been alleged that the way the categories of the DSM are structured and the substantial expansion of the number of categories are representative of an increasing medicalization of human nature. This has been attributed by many to the expanding power and influence of pharmaceutical companies over the last several decades. Of the authors who selected and defined the DSM-IV psychiatric disorders, roughly half have had financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry at one time, raising the prospect of a direct conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination can add to their suffering and disability. This has led various social movements to work to increase societal awareness and understanding of mental illness and challenge social exclusion. By better understanding what is “abnormal,” researchers and therapists can come up with new ways to help people live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Appointed as superintendent of the Utica State Hospital in New York, Grey asserted that insanity always had a physical cause. As such, the mentally ill should be seen as physically ill and treated with rest, proper room temperature and ventilation, and a nutritive diet. Stigma is when negative stereotyping, labeling, rejection, and loss of status occur and take the form of public or self-stigma, and label avoidance. Social cognition is the process through which we collect information from the world around us and then interpret it. The collection process occurs through what we know as sensation – or detecting physical energy emitted or reflected by physical objects.

Analyse The Difficulties Involved In Diagnosing Mental Illness And

Here he was tested by a pediatric neurologist, a psychologist, and a child psychiatrist. The reformers Philippe Pinel, Benjamin Rush, and Dorothea Dix fought the often brutal treatment of the mentally ill and were instrumental in changing perceptions and treatment of them. Mental health professionals take on many different forms with different degree requirements, training, and the ability to prescribe mediations. A systematic explanation of a phenomenon is a theory and our specific, testable prediction is the hypothesis. The scientific method is a systematic method for gathering knowledge about the world around us. Outline and describe the steps of the scientific method, defining all key terms. The 18th to 19th centuries saw the rise of the moral treatment movement followed by the mental hygiene movement.

normal behavior definition psychology

Abnormal psychology focuses on the patterns of emotion, thought, and behavior that can be signs of a mental health condition. Rather than the distinction between normal and abnormal, psychologists in this field focus on the level of distress that behaviors, thoughts, or emotions might cause. In any given behavior or trait, normality is being average or close to average. Scores falling within one standard deviation above or below the mean, the most average 68.3% of the population, is considered normal. Normality may extend up to two standard deviations away above or below the average for a total of 95.7% of the population. Meanwhile, abnormality is the statistical rarity, falling in between two and three standard deviations away above or below the average, which is 4.3% of the population.

Normality Behavior

As the DSM evolved into its current version (DSM-V) in late 2013, there have been numerous conflicts in proposed classification between mental illness and normal mentality. In his book Saving Normal, Dr. Allen Frances, who chaired the task force for content in the DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR, wrote a scathing indictment of the pressures incumbent on the definition of “normal” relative to psychological constructs and mental illness. Statistical normality is important in determining demographic pathologies. When a variable rate, such as virus spread within a human population, exceeds its normal infection rate, then preventative or emergency measures can be introduced.

normal behavior definition psychology

The use of terms such as typical or acceptable, however, has been criticized because they are ambiguous, involve value judgments, and vary from one culture to another. The world health organization considers normality to be a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. The American Psychiatric Association developed a system to diagnose abnormal behavior using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is referred to today as the DSM V . Distress This is a negative response to stressful circumstances that involves negative physiological reactions.


A man who works two full-time jobs, for instance, is not likely to be at home when his family is. If he is away from the important people in his life most of the time, to some extent, inevitably, he will be emotionally deprived. And there are groups—religious, perhaps, or social—with whose members he feels an identity. Such a person often finds himself committed to other people, or even to an idea, to a degree where he loses himself in a larger purpose. Consequently when he has children, he becomes part of them and continues on in their lives, so that personal death becomes less real and less frightening. Some researchers speculate that the slow oscillation cycles of animal sleep constitute an essential ‘re-normalization’ phase. The re-normalization occurs from cortical large amplitude brain rhythm, in the low delta range (0.5–2Hz), synaptically downscaling the associations from the wakeful learning state.

  • For example, eating spiders is normal in some cultures, and in western culture, it might be deemed an unhealthy compulsion.
  • Think about it – the loss of a loved one causes even the most “normally” functioning individual pain and suffering.
  • This can affect how we think or feel about the person and behave toward them.
  • For example, the field of psychology has recently moved toward using deliberate person-centered language—referring to people as individuals with mental illness rather than mentally ill individuals.
  • It is practically impossible for any individual to achieve all of the ideal characteristics all of the time.

People are not really expected to strictly obey the law, any more than they are expected to work a full day or to keep every promise they make. A medical student assigned to a psychiatric ward evaluated his first patient, an 18-year-old girl who had been admitted to the hospital because her mother had complained that there was something the matter with her. Following an argument with a teacher, the girl had become withdrawn and preoccupied with religion. She began eating poorly and leaving her room in a mess, which was out of character, for she was usually very neat.

Behavioral Perspective Of Mental Health Behavior

Second, there are inferential statistics that allow for the analysis of two or more sets of numerical data to determine the statistical significance of the results. Significance is an indication of how confident we are that our results are due to our manipulation or design and not chance.5Draw conclusions carefully.We need to interpret our results accurately and not overstate our findings. To do this, we need to be aware of our biases and avoid emotional reasoning so that they do not cloud our judgment. Sharing also allows for replication or repeating the study to confirm its results. Communication occurs via scientific journals, conferences, or newsletters released by many of the organizations mentioned in Module 1.6. Dysfunction – Includes “clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning” (pg. 20). Abnormal behavior, therefore, has the capacity to make well-being difficult to obtain and can be assessed by looking at an individual’s current performance and comparing it to what is expected in general or how the person has performed in the past.

Something that lies outside of the range of the majority can be considered abnormal. In psychology, personal distress is an normal behavior definition psychology aversive, self-focused emotional reaction to the apprehension or comprehension of another’s emotional state or condition.

The Library of Congress uses classification to organize and arrange their book collections and includes such categories as B – Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion; H – Social Sciences; N – Fine Arts; Q – Science; R – Medicine; and T – Technology. Known as Deep Brain Therapy, we have two types of disorders that can be treated by stimulation of the brain Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Major Depression Disease.

Apart from the above criticism, the model is identified as the origin of modern day cures. Current diagnostic guidelines have been criticized as having a fundamentally Euro-American outlook. Common criticisms include both disappointment over the large number of documented non-Western mental disorders still left out and frustration that even those included are often misinterpreted or misrepresented. The DSM is often considered a “necessary evil”—it has many flaws, but it is also the only widely accepted method of diagnosing mental disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the standard classification manual used by mental health professionals in the United States. The psychoanalytic approach suggests that many abnormal behaviors stem from unconscious thoughts, desires, and memories.

Essentials Of Abnormal Psychology

Simply Psychology’s content is for informational and educational purposes only. The criteria for mental illness are vague, subjective and open to misinterpretation criteria. Freud also believed that early childhood experiences and unconscious motivationwere responsible for disorders. According to this approach, the more of these criteria are satisfied, the healthier the individual is. Age and GenderDifferent people can behave in the same way and for some will be normal and others abnormal, depending on age and gender .

As such, a good employee who suddenly demonstrates poor performance may be experiencing an environmental demand leading to stress and ineffective coping mechanisms. Once the demand resolves itself, the person’s performance should return to normal according to this principle. Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought, which may or may not be understood as precipitating a mental disorder. Although many behaviors could be considered as abnormal, this branch of psychology typically deals with behavior in a clinical context. A psychological disorder is a condition characterized by abnormal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Psychopathology is the study of psychological disorders, including their symptoms, etiology (i.e., their causes), and treatment.

Psychologically speaking abnormal behavior is not easy to classify and requires careful scrutinization of the minutest aspects of an individual’s actions. Also, it is important to note that what might be considered normal in one culture, may be completely foolish or bizarre in another one. Thus, defining abnormal behavior and what constitutes abnormal behavior becomes extensively dependent on culture . For the common man, the difference between normal and abnormal behavior is often termed as the sane and insane types of actions. It is important to note that abnormal behavior causes severe distress to both the person and the people around them as well. Additionally, it hinders their normal functioning in all phases of life.

Psychologists do have an overall assumption of how mental health, gender and culture issues are referred to statistically. In terms of gender, some psychologists have argued that males are less likely to consult their doctors when suffering from mental disorders, which makes the females score highly in statistical data. Bennett believed that this would be due to matters of socialization especially in industrialized societies. In regards to culture, Cohen gave a description of how Indian mental patients are highly discriminated, so this would leave many patients without seeking any clinically help for their mental disorders so this would lead to wrong statistical measures. Since abnormal psychology disorders can greatly affect the quality of life of those who face them daily, it is important that they are diagnosed correctly. Diagnoses often get a negative reaction, but they are actually a positive tool as they allow mental health professionals to provide individuals with the help they need.

Bipolar disorder causes mood swings that move from depression and sadness to mania, extreme happiness, or even irritability. Depressive disorders are characterized by extended periods of sadness without reasonable explanations. Too much “normality” can be boring, but boredom is a kind of suffering, which can be considered “not normal”.

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