Today I have been revising the age old question of abnormality for my Clinical Psychology exam. What is normal and abnormal behaviour? I’ve had to learn two definitions and I thought I’d share them 🙂
1.) Abnormality is deviation from Statistical Norms
-This means abnormality is behaviour which falls outside the range of what is considered to be usual behaviour, exhibited by the majority of the population.
-Disorders are usually categories of behaviour, e.g. you are either schizophrenic or not schizophrenic (according to my psychology book) Therefore abnormality is displaying behaviours which belong to these categories, which not many people belong to.
So i guess according to this one I’m probably abnormal, not many people at my college are writing blog posts about their revision. Infact I’m pretty sure the majority don’t even own one, I know i didn’t until about 3 days ago 😛 . According to this definition people with high empathy and high intelligence are also abnormal, a label which comes with a lot of stigma… hmm.
2.) Abnormality is the Failure to Function Adequately
-This means that somebody is abnormal when they are unable to lead a normal life, or engage in normal behaviour eg. they are unable to work or live by themselves.
-They engage in maladaptive behaviour which is detramental to their health, or the health of others.
-They may experience personal distress
And according to this one I would say I am thoroughly normal; this blog post certainly hasn’t caused me much personal distress, and writing all this information out again has probably been helpful, not maladaptive. Also, as my worksheet so delightfully put it “what about happy, fulfilled tramps?”.
My personal opinion is that the real definition of abnormality is probably a bit more subjective than my A-level course allows. It’s probably a mixture of these definitions and a few others; that is the one thing that really grates me about A-level Psychology, everything is split up exactly to fit into the curriculum (great for revising) but not very realistic 🙁
Perhaps the real question is; why are so many psychologists desperate to find out what’s abnormal… is that normal?! hehe 😉