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- To KNOW and UNDERSTAND what the four definitions of abnormality are.
- To APPLY these definition to real life scenarios and mental illnesses.
- To ANALYSE the usefulness of these in order to EVALUATE who effective they are at improving the quality of people’s lives.
- We created an A3 poster with four mini-mind-maps of each definition.
- By the end of this lesson we had each definition outlined and an example of a psychological disorder or behaviour which would class as abnormal according to that definition.
- We added the common strength of all these definitions, that it has practical applications, helping to identify those who might need psychological help.
- We added the common weakness of all these definitions, that is cultural relativism, what is normal depends largely on your culture.
Statistical Infrequency: This definition is utilised mainly by mathematicians, in businesses and science. Anyone who falls outside of the statistical average is considered ‘abnormal’. Essentially, you are abnormal if your behaviour is rare in the population. For example obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is rare; only 1.2% of the population suffers from it, with only 0.6% being seriously effected.
Hints: This is a simple definition but it gets confused with Deviation From Social Norms. Keep focused on the numbers of people.
Deviation From Social Norms: This definition is utilised mainly by sociologists and common people. Anyone who breaks the ‘norms’ of society, is abnormal. These norms are the unwritten rules passed on through socialisation by families and other agents about what behaviour is accepted and expected by members of any given society. For example Tourette’s can make people “tic”; blurting out swear words which society sees as unacceptable behaviour.
Hints: This is a simple definition that gets confused with Statistical Infrequency. Keep focused on what ‘normal’ behaviour would be.
Failure To Function Adequately: This definition is utilised mainly by psychologists and doctors. Anyone who cannot cope with the demands of everyday life is considered abnormal. Someone’s ability to cope is measured on the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) from a scale of 1-100, where 100 is superior functioning. At the top end of the scale it considers if the behaviour is causing either distress in the patient or anxiety in others (observer discomfort). As functioning decreases it begins to consider the impact on the patients ability to go to work or school and keep social relationships going. At it progresses further it takes into account if the patient can maintain levels of personal hygiene and safety until the point they become a danger to themselves or others. For example, Alzheimer’s in its early stages can be upsetting to forget things and uncomfortable for family to watch. As the disease progresses patients become unable to work and eventually unable to remember to wash or eat.
Hints: It is not enough to remember to ‘everyday life’ you need to remember the 6 indicators of adequate functioning.
Deviation From Ideal Mental Health: This definition is utilised by positive Psychologists focusing on mental health. Anyone who does not meet the criteria for ideal psychological health is considered abnormal. These ideals are based on the work of Marie Jahoda who claimed that there were six criteria to accomplish mental health. A positive attitude to self, personal autonomy (control over own life), resistance to stress, environmental mastery (or ability to adapt to environment), an accurate perception of reality, and self actualisation (personal growth). For example someone with Anorexia may feel out of control, see something different in the mirror and dislike themselves.
Hints: It is not enough to remember to ‘ideal health’ you need to remember the 6 indicators of ideal functioning listed above.
A* Contextual Background: In the 1960s and 1970s (as you saw in the YouTube clip) there was a move in many social sciences towards a more positive outlook. This brought with it Humanism (see approaches section) and Positive Psychology.
Practical Application: Point: All of these definitions have practical applications, Because: (give an example of the disorder they would identify), So What: The enables them to seek psychological help and therefore improve the quality of lives.
Cultural Relativism: Point: All of these definitions are culturally relative, Because: (give an example of how behaviour identified by this definition might differ across cultures or countries), So What: This limits then ability to make universal judgements about what in ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’.
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Study Notes (TBC):
TEXTBOOKS OR EXTRA READING:
I would suggest that you have a copy of one of the textbooks which will allow you to read around the subject matter, pre-read ahead of lessons or even take extra notes/practise questions afterwards. I would recommend the following (you do not need to replicate books, one of each type is plenty!)
- Complete Companion Series:
- Psychology for A Level:
Extra Reading – Please click the link to take you to amazon (affiliates links mean it costs you the same but I may get a small commission)