A level PsychologyWatch
There are four definitions of abnormality. The first is the statistical infrequency model, the second is the deviation from social norms, the third is failure to function adequately and the last one is deviation from ideal mental health.
According to the first definition, statistical infrequency model, people are judged to be abnormal because they do not statistically behave in the same way as others. Most people behave one way but a few people behave differently and therefore are judged abnormal. One problem with this definition is that same desirable traits can be judged as abnormal.
The second definition is also deviation this time not statistical but from social norms. This means that a person might be judged as abnormal because they behave differently from the group. For example, the group might think that people should not murder other people so anyone who does this is judged as abnormal. A problem with this definition is the social norms change and therefore it isn’t a fixed way to judge abnormality. It is also subjective and can lead to human rights abuse.
A third definition is failure to function adequately. What this means is that some people can’t do normal everyday things like get up and go to bed at usual times, feed themselves, keep down a job and so on. So they aren’t really coping adequately with life and this is a way to judge them as abnormal. This too requires subjective judgement but on the positive side it is more about the person’s experience than the other definitions, which is a good thing.
The final definition is deviation from ideal mental health. Jahoda suggested a list of things that could be used to judge mental health. For example, she said having a good self-esteem, a job, having no distress, a realistic view of the world, coping with stress, being independent and so on – all of these things are what mentally healthy people have. The trouble with this definition is that very few people actually have all of these things and therefore it isn’t a very good definition.