Psychology: Is it possible to define ‘abnormality’? Discuss with reference to schizophrenia (07.08.11) Introduction Abnormality can be defined in terms of unusual behavior that is not in keeping with the prevailing norms or does not comply with societal demands and expectations…
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Deviation from social norms is suggestive of the practices that are created by society in labeling people that do not comply with societal norms For instance, till recently, homosexuals were said to be suffering from mental disorders. Social norms mostly relate to cultures, such as when people from a particular group may not share the same values and ways of doing things with other culturally different groups. The complexities arising from such patterns have often been used to explain the presence of schizophrenia amongst immigrant groups in the USA and UK. This paper will examine whether it is possible to define abnormality and the discussions in this regard will be made with reference to schizophrenia. Main Body The behavioral model of abnormality focuses upon the impact of environmental forces on explicit behavior of people. The term mental illness cannot be used in this context because mental structure has no relevance to this model. Abnormality is considered as being learned through the process of emotional and classical habituation. For example, phobias can be developed through processes of classical conditioning. Abnormal behaviors also occur because of emotional conditioning such as the pleasures received from using drugs, which can act as a positive support in leading to addiction. Depression is seen as resulting from inadequate reinforcement or excessive punishment that mostly occurs because of life changes such as losing a job and being rendered unemployed. It is believed from the psychological perspective that no single model can explain the causes of psychological abnormality. For over 200 years, the dominating model in this context has been the biological method that uses medical terminology such as treatment, illness, symptoms and patient, whereby psychiatric systems classify the disorder through the given symptoms. In recent times, research in genetics and biochemistry has enabled a better understanding of abnormality and treatments have been introduced that have achieved success. However, drug treatment is known to have side effects and creates dependence by treating symptoms instead of taking care of the cause. It is also possible that biochemical imbalance could be the result and not the source of psychological problems (Porter, 2002). There is strong evidence of genetic effects relative to schizophrenia along with bipolar depression, although preventive measures for these situations have not yet been found. Researchers have proved that genes are not the main cause of psychological problems but can enhance the chances of their development. Therefore, the biological perspectives in the medical models are not considered adequate to explain the complexities relating to mental and emotional processes. According to the diathesis stress model, association of environmental influence and biological conditions can lead to abnormalities. Such findings have enabled different models to explain abnormality. For instance, in the case of phobias people can be biologically inclined to have fear of certain entities and situations because of the working of selective evolutionary processes (Seligman et al, 1997). The fact remains that it is very difficult to define the concept of abnormality because it can take different forms with different characteristics whereby what initially appears to be simple could become quite complex subsequently. Deviating from statistical norms is a
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Wexler et al (2009) conducted a study to analyze the deviation in cognition from normal levels. The deviation from normal in schizophrenics was found to be more than one standard deviation. These patients were called neuropsychological impaired (NPI). 20 to 25 % of schizophrenics were however found to have levels of cognition close to normal, this group of patients was named as neuropsychological near normal (NPNN) .
The term schizophrenia is of Greek origin and means split mind. Schizophrenia is caused by a combination of factors including genetics, brain chemistry, and environment. It is a chronic disease which cannot be cured although proper treatment can help keep it under control.
“Abnormality is conceived of as a cluster of behaviours” and role cultural social factors remain a significant issue in defining abnormality (Essau, & Petermann, 1997, p.448). Studies have underlined that abnormality or madness has some historical backdrops and it may be as old as mankind.
In most instances, the disorders have no cure. Due to this, medical practitioners focus on treatment which eases and lessens the effects of these disorders. In other instances, there are mild cases of brain disorders symptoms. In this scenario, the conditions are reversible.
The disorder interferes with the way an individual expresses their emotions and their perception of reality is distorted. The degree of distortion varies and depends on the severity of the condition. Individuals with this condition have difficulty in social interactions including relationships.
After the introduction, the author starts the analysis with the need to see beyond the "terms" and "definitions" offered by clinical psychology and psychopathology that categorize a person into "me" and "others" which (as the author further argues) is skeptical in terms of relevancy since without a person, there is no "other" i.e.
Apart from the serous signs and symptoms, this psychiatric disorder also has an immense impact on the close environment and relatives of the patients, due to its severe nature. The earliest description of schizophrenia is given by a French psychiatrist as a form of dementia
ection in its uptake by Special Agents of the FBI in the mid-1970s and the boundless advancement of their administrations through the narrative compositions of Thomas Harris and others is noted.
The advancement past the early requisition to serial executioner examinations, and
The book highlights some treatments that have been applied successfully to manage the condition as well as an exploration of living with schizophrenia from the patient and the family’s perspective. The
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