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Abnormal Psychology Essay

2635 words - 11 pages

'Abnormal behaviour' can be defined as behaviour which is unusual, socially unacceptable, dangerous to themselves or others, or whether a person is in a significant amount of personal distress. However, each of these must be defined individually and the cultural background must always be taken into account. Although there is a continuum along which everyone will at some point suffer depressed moods, several different criteria must be taken into account before deciding whether the depressed mood a person may be suffering from is abnormal or not. The cause of the depressed mood also varies due to the many different paradigms which have branched out from psychology over the last few decades and even centuries. The psychoanalytic and biological paradigms are two paradigms which address the cause of depressed moods very differently.There are many different criteria which have been developed in today's societies which together, determine what is considered 'normal' behaviour and what is considered 'abnormal' behaviour. However, these criteria vary enormously across different societies and cultures. Therefore we have to consider many different cultural and social aspects before we can define any behaviour as being abnormal. There is a definite continuum along which people's behaviour will run. Therefore, it is very hard to draw a solid line to determine when behaviour may be deemed more abnormal than normal. Firstly, when behaviour is 'unusual', it may be defined as abnormal but what one person in one culture may deem unusual may be considered perfectly acceptable behaviour in another culture. Unusual behaviour can be considered behaviour which is an uncommon occurrence in a culture, for example hallucinations, panic attacks or hearing voices in western cultures is considered unusual and so a person who experiences one or more of these behaviours could be considered abnormal. However, if the person is from an American Indian background, then to hear voices or have other hallucinations is perfectly acceptable and the person may even be given status in a tribe.We can also define behaviour as abnormal when behaviour is socially unacceptable. Every society has a set of 'social norms', standards which have been developed through religious beliefs and cultural practises. These social norms define what is generally considered and accepted as a normal and proper way to behave in a particular society. If a person violates these social norms, then they are likely to exhibit behaviour which can be obtrusive and offensive to the average person in a society. Therefore, behaviour which is socially unacceptable can also be considered abnormal. However, it must be remembered that because every society has a different set of social norms, again cultural background must first be taken into account before defining any socially unacceptable behaviour as abnormal.Behaviour may also be defined as abnormal if a person is in a significant amount of personal distress. However,...

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