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Abnormal Psychology Essay

2640 words - 11 pages

The field of abnormal psychology engages with the obscure line between normal and abnormal behaviour. This blur is as a result of the dissonance that occurs when the two terms are defined for example, when cultural perspectives are taken into consideration-where behaviour (for example sake, experiencing hallucinations) considered deviant in one population is normalcy in another. In attempt to make the field comprehensive a middle ground was determined by drawing on the common elements or patterns of “peculiar” conditions, and converging them to ascertain this definition of abnormality: behavioural, psychological, or biological dysfunctions that are atypical and unexpected in their cultural context and associated with personal distress and impairment in functioning, or increased risk of suffering, death, or pain (Barlow & Durand, 2012). In brief, this is an applied field, interested in identifying and treating individuals whose symptoms trouble them and in many cases those around them, leading to difficulties in everyday functioning. This essay aims to discuss and apply the knowledge base of abnormal psychology to the plight of Regina; her case offers a template for which to problematize the aforementioned statement about the definition of abnormality, concomitantly determine the factors that have brought about her ailment and, finally, deduce the course of action to take in an attempt to alleviate her symptoms to retain and maintain stability.

Keeping in mind the real-life problems faced by Regina, one shall critically interrogate each criterion for abnormal behaviour-psychological dysfunction, personal distress and impairment in functioning that is not typical or culturally expected-and map these on to the surface characteristics of Regina’s behaviour. Psychological dysfunction refers to a breakdown in cognitive, emotional, or behavioural functioning (Swartz, de la Rey, Duncan, & Townsend, 2008). The problem with this explanation is that a psychological dysfunction is not necessarily a psychological disorder. Psychological dysfunction is on a continuum, making it impossible to draw the line between normal and abnormal. It is possible to have a psychological dysfunction as minor as feeling faint when getting a flu shot, or as major as fainting five or ten times a week just at the thought of blood. This means that having a dysfunction does not automatically qualify as having a disorder.
Distress is usually experienced, but once again, to be distressed does not mean you have a psychological disorder. It is normal to be distressed, and it is possible to have a psychological disorder without being distressed (i.e. manic episodes), but distress is a large part of defining the term "psychological disorder". Impairment is another factor, but like distress, you can easily be impaired without having a disorder. It is considered a part of a disorder when, for example, you are so shy that you avoid any interactions with other people (Swartz, et al.,...

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