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Abnormality (or dysfunctional behavior) is a behavioral characteristic assigned to those with conditions regarded as rare or dysfunctional.[1] Behavior is considered abnormal when it is atypical or out of the ordinary, consists of undesirable behavior, and results in impairment in the individual's functioning.[2] Abnormality is that which is considered deviant from specific societal, cultural and ethical expectations. These expectations are broadly dependent on age, gender, traditional and societal categorizations. The definition of abnormal behavior is an often debated issue in abnormal psychology[3] because of these subjective variables.

Abnormal behavior should not be confused with unusual behavior. Behavior that is out of the ordinary is not necessarily indicative of a mental or psychological disorder. Abnormal behavior, on the other hand, while not a mental disorder in itself, is often indicative of mental and psychological disorders.[4] A psychological disorder is defined as an "ongoing dysfunctional pattern of thought, emotion, and behavior that causes significant distress, and is considered deviant in that person's culture or society".[5] Important to note is that abnormal behavior, as it relates to psychological disorders, would be "ongoing" and a cause of "significant distress". A mental disorder describes a patient who has a medical condition whereby the medical practitioner makes a judgement that the patient is exhibiting abnormal behavior based on the DSM-5 criteria.[6] Thus, simply because a behavior is unusual does not make it abnormal; it is only considered abnormal if it meets these criteria.

Several conventional criteria

There are five main criteria of abnormality. They are:

  1. Statistical Criterion
  2. Social Criterion
  3. Personal Discomfort
  4. Maladaptive Behaviour
  5. Deviation from Ideal

Abnormal behaviors are "actions that are unexpected and often evaluated negatively because they differ from typical or usual behavior".[7]

The following Criteria are subjective:

The standard criteria in psychology and psychiatry is that of mental illness or mental disorder. Determination of abnormality is based upon medical diagnosis.

Other Criteria

A common approach to defining abnormality is a Multi-Criteria approach, where all definitions of abnormality are used to determine whether an individual's behavior is abnormal. For example, psychologists would be prepared to define an individual's behavior as "abnormal" if the following criteria are met.

A good example of an abnormal behavior assessed by a multi-criteria approach is depression: it is commonly seen as a deviation from ideal mental stability, it often stops the individual from 'functioning' a normal life, and, though it is a relatively common mental disorder, it is still statistically infrequent. Most people do not experience significant major depressive disorder in their lifetime.[14] Thus, depression and its associated behaviors would be considered abnormal.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Psychology: Core Concepts, n.d.
  2. ^ A Cross-sectional Study in Iranian Population, n.d.
  3. ^ "Classification and Assessment of Abnormal Behavior" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  4. ^ Marty, Meghan A.; Segal, Daniel L. (2015). "DSM-5". The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology. American Cancer Society. pp. 1–6. doi:10.1002/9781118625392.wbecp308. ISBN 9781118625392.
  5. ^ Butcher, James; Mineka, Susan; Hooley, Jill (2007). Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life (13th ed). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  6. ^ McLeod, Saul (2014). "The Medical Model". Simply Psychology. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  7. ^ Durand, V., & Barlow, D. (2016). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  8. ^ Mills, Daniel S. (2003-05-02). "Medical paradigms for the study of problem behaviour: a critical review". Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 81 (3): 265–277. doi:10.1016/S0168-1591(02)00286-1. ISSN 0168-1591.
  9. ^ "Normal vs. Abnormal Behavior: A Continuum". First Responder's Guide to Abnormal Psychology. Springer, Boston, MA. 2007. pp. 13–18. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-35465-1_2. ISBN 9780387351391.
  10. ^ David Rosenhan & Martin Seligman (1984) Abnormal Psychology
  11. ^ "Mental Illness in America". Archived from the original on 1999-10-09.
  12. ^ "Abnormal Psychology | Simply Psychology". Retrieved 2018-04-07.
  13. ^ "Complicated Grief Needs Specific Treatment".
  14. ^ "How prevalent is mental illness in the USA".