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Abnormality booklet 1 2013 students

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  • 1. Name: ___________________ AS Psychology: Unit 2 PSYA2 (January Exam) Individual Differences Booklet 1 (of 3 ): - Defining and Explaining Psychological Abnormality Specification: • Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health, and limitations associated with these definitions of psychological abnormality Exam – Booklet 1 (of 7) 1
  • 2. Definitions of Psychological Abnormality A01 “Abnormality” is a surprisingly difficult phenomenon to define. Many psychologists have tried and three of those attempts appear in this booklet. None have managed to provide a comprehensive definition and each has several limitations. Here is a general overview of each definition: Deviation from Social Norms: “Normal” people abide by societies rules and expectations (i.e. norms) therefore… Those who break the “rules” are therefore classed as “abnormal”. Definitions of Abnormality Deviation from Ideal Mental Health: Having social relationships and an accurate view of the world is “normal”… Therefore, the absence of these things is seen as abnormal Failure to Function adequately: “Normal” people do normal things, e.g. get out of bed, go to work, etc Those who can’t cope with daily life are viewed as abnormal. 2
  • 3. A01 Definition 1: Deviation from Social Norms (DSN) Norms are commonly expected standards of behaving in a society according to the majority. Sometimes these are written (explicit) and form laws that govern behaviour. Sometimes though, these norms of behaviour are unwritten (implicit) but generally accepted (e.g. not standing too close to people at a cash machine). Whether explicit or implicit, social norms allow for the regulation of normal social behaviour. All societies have standards, or norms, for appropriate behaviours and beliefs (expectations about how people should behave and what they should think). This definition therefore, suggests that abnormality can be seen as someone who breaks these ‘rules of society’ (i.e. someone who doesn’t think or behave in a way that is accepted by that society). Give an example of a social norm that would suggest that you are “normal”: __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Give an example of a behaviour that would break “social norms” and therefore indicate that the behaviour may be “abnormal”: ____________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ Whenever behaviour breaks a “social norm” this is an indication that there may be some form of abnormality or may be a sign of a mental disorder. Can you think of any disorders that would link to this definition? Explain why.. 3
  • 4. Limitations of the Deviation from Social Norms definition: Limitations refer to how restricted the definition is i.e. whether it can explain all abnormalities - Social norms change over time e.g., _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ - Social norms differ between cultures e.g., ___________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ - Doesn’t distinguish between socially deviant behaviour and mental abnormality e.g., ________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ - Deviation from social norms may be a positive thing and may not be considered abnormal e.g., _________ ____________________________ ____________________________ AO2 POINT: The Social norms definition can be questioned, as social norms change over time and therefore a behaviour that broke social norms and was considered abnormal in 1950 may not be viewed as abnormal today. EVIDENCE: Being an unmarried mother in the 1940’s and 1950’s would be breaking social norms and therefore this behaviour was classed as abnormal. Many of these women were sectioned as ‘moral imbeciles’ and society demanded that they “give up” their babies. EVALUATION: This is a limitation because as this example shows, it is not the individual who has changed but the classification of the behaviour by society. This brings into question the validity of using this definition alone to define abnormality. 4
  • 5. AO2 Limitations of the Deviation from Social Norms definition POINT: Social norms differ between cultures and this may be problematic. EVIDENCE: in British culture it is considered to be polite to finish the food on your plate at mealtimes. However, in India, to finish all food from you plate is a sign that you are still hungry. EVALUATION: This is a limitation because shows that what is considered ‘normal’ in one culture may actually be ‘abnormal’ in another. So, _____________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ Extension activity: Research the Schizophrenia rates in the UK amongst Afro-Caribbean males. Then, comment on this relating to the “social norms” definition. POINT: The “deviation from Social norms” definition of abnormality is limited because it suggests that all behaviour which breaks social norms is “abnormal” and it doesn’t distinguish between socially deviant behaviour and mental abnormality. EVIDENCE: For example, someone found guilty of being a drink-driver may have broken a social norm, but they are not considered to have a mental abnormality. EVALUATION: This is a limitation because it shows that the deviation from social norms definition is inadequate in identifying abnormality as there are many behaviours that are clearly socially deviant but not psychological abnormalities. . Further AO2: 1. Abnormality must always be related to social context in which it occurs as behaviour seen as normal in one situation may be seen as abnormal in another. An example: _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 2. A positive! At least the DSN definition does include some consideration of the effect of the deviant behaviour on other people. 5
  • 6. A01 Definition 2: Failure to Function Adequately (FFA) “Failing to function” is generally taken to mean that a person is unable to cope with everyday life. Their behaviour is seen as maladaptive (not good for survival), disrupting their ability to work and conduct satisfying relationships and causes personal distress, as well as distress to others. Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) have suggested some key characteristics of ‘failing to function adequately’: 1. Personal Distress – Most people who seek psychiatric help of any kind are suffering from a sense of psychological distress or discomfort (Sue et al, 1994) and a recognition that they are failing to function adequately. 2. Observer Distress (or Discomfort) - Where someone’s behaviour causes discomfort and distress to others observing the behaviour. 3. Maladaptive Behaviour- Where someone’s behaviour interferes with their ability to lead a normal life (e.g. agoraphobia) 4. Unpredictable Behaviour- If behaviour is unpredictable if it does not fit the situation or if it is unexpected and uncontrolled (e.g. sobbing for no reason or laughing at bad news). 5. Irrational Behaviour- If a person’s behaviour doesn’t make sense to other people (difficult to understand) Can you think of a mnemonic to help you remember the key characteristics? P- O - M - U - I - Can you think of any disorders that would link to this definition? Explain why.. Limitations of the ‘FFA’ definition: A02 - A behaviour which seems to indicate a “failure to function” does not always indicate abnormality e.g.______________ - The presence of an abnormality doesn’t always result in a “failure to function“ e.g., _____________ __________________________ - Behaviour that looks as if it is a “failure to function” to some people, may be seen differently by others, e.g. _____________ 6
  • 7. Limitations of the ‘FFA’ definition: A02 POINT: Failing to function does not always indicate the presence of a psychological abnormality. EVIDENCE: For example, ________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ EVALUATION: This is a limitation as environmental factors may cause a failure to function rather than any psychological abnormality and this therefore questions the validity of using this definition to identify abnormality. POINT: However, the presence of an abnormality doesn’t always result in a “failure to function” EVIDENCE: An individual with depression may still be able to hold a job and run a family successfully. There are many examples of celebrities who have suffered from psychological disorders who have had successful careers and who would not be considered as “failing to function adequately” e.g.,____________________ EVALUATION: This is a limitation because it shows that this definition is inadequate in truly identifying behaviours that may be considered abnormal. POINT: Behaviour that looks as if it is a “failure to function” may actually be behaviour that is admired by some in society. EVIDENCE: Some political prisoners who go on a hunger strike as part of their political protest will often be respected. EVALUATION: This is a weakness because although starving yourself may be seen as irrational, maladaptive and unpredictable, it is understandable in a particular social context and therefore would not be classed as a mental abnormality. Extension materials ~ Further AO2: 1. A further limitation ~ some people may be unaware that they are “failing to function”, that is, they lack “insight” (e.g., those with Hebephrenic Schizophrenia). 2. Not all mental disorders are accompanied by a state of distress.   Strengths: • This definition allows us to work in degrees of abnormality rather than making a judgement about whether someone is abnormal or not. • This definition does take into account the subjective experience of the individual. 7  
  • 8. A01 Definition 3: Deviation from Ideal Mental Health (DIMH) This definition stands out by not defining abnormality directly. Instead, it attempts to define a state of ideal mental health (i.e., factors necessary for ‘optimal living’). Marie Jahoda (1958) defined ideal mental health through a list of characteristics indicating psychological health and therefore the absence of the characteristics (rather than presence; as with the FFA definition) suggests abnormality. Characteristics for ‘Optimal Living’: 1. Strong sense of self-Identity - A psychologically healthy individual should be in touch with their own identity and feelings. 2. Resistant to stress - Someone with ideal mental health should be resistant to stress and its negative effects. 3. Self-actualisation - The mentally healthy individual should also be focused on the future and on fulfilling their potential (developing their talents and abilities). 4. Autonomy - They should function as autonomous individuals, recognising their own needs and with an accurate perception of reality (i.e., to have the ability to act independently, to make their own decisions and to find satisfaction from within themselves). 5. Empathy – The individual should show understanding towards others. The fewer of these qualities you have, the more abnormal you are seen to be. Can you think of a mnemonic to help you remember the characteristics? S – R – S – A – E – Can you identify a disorder that would link to this definition? Explain why... Limitations of the ‘DIMH’ definition: A02 - The characteristics for ‘Optimal Living’ are _______________________ ________________________________________________________ - The definition relies upon a _____________ judgment about what “normal” is. - The criteria are based on _____________________ culture and therefore the definition is ethnocentric. 8
  • 9. Limitations of the ‘DIMH’ definition: A02 POINT: The definition is problematic, as the characteristics of Ideal Mental Health are seen as far too idealistic. EVIDENCE: Evidence to support this comes from Maslow (1968) who argued that only a few people ever achieve ‘self-actualisation’ and so the criteria is set too high. EVALUATION: This is a limitation because if this is true, ______________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ POINT: The definition requires a subjective judgement on how many criteria need to be lacking in order to define someone as ‘abnormal’ EVIDENCE: For example, one individual might consider a lack of 2 criteria to be abnormal, whereas another would consider lacking 4 criteria to be abnormal. EVALUATION: This is a weakness because using subjective judgements in this way, decreases both the reliability (i.e., consistency) and the validity (i.e., accuracy) of this method of defining abnormality. POINT: The criteria used in the “Ideal Mental Health” definition, are based on Western culture and therefore the definition is ethnocentric. Individualistic: Cultures that place their emphasis on personal achievement Collectivist: Cultures that strive for the greater good of the community. Which culture would be seen as abnormal according to Jahoda’s criteria? EVIDENCE: For example, her emphasis on personal growth and individual autonomy reflects Western, ________________ culture (e.g. North-American) and not _______________ cultures. EVALUATION: This is a limitation because it means that the definition is subjective and should only be used in the culture in which it has been developed, is not value-free and therefore may be biased. 9
  • 10. Definition of abnormality BUZZ WORDS Deviation from Social Norms: Failure to Function Adequately: Deviation from Ideal mental health: Exam-Style Questions: (1) Outline any one definition of abnormality. (3 marks) ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………...……………………………………………………................................ (b) Identify any two definitions of abnormality and explain one limitation of each definition. (2 + 2 marks) ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..……………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………................................................ Timed activity Complete the following question (without your booklet) under timed conditions... Outline and Evaluate definitions of abnormality (12 marks) 10
  • 11. Extension Material The Case Study of ‘Robert’ Robert was an underweight 8-year-old who had always been very reluctant to go to school. Every school night he ate very little, and even that was brought up later. He became increasingly anxious as the evening wore on. When he couldn’t get to sleep he would cry, and his mother would come and sit with him and tell him stores. In the morning Robert got up early and paced up and down or sat in a corner, occasionally rushing to the toilet to be sick. When it was time to go to school he had to be pushed out of the house, though often his tears and complaints of feeling unwell led his mother to relent and allow him to stay home. If Robert did go to school, there was some comfort in the fact that his mother would visit at playtime, bringing milk and biscuits. She came because that was part of the ‘deal’ about going to school, but also because she would otherwise worry about Robert. Robert surprisingly got on quite well with the other children and was well liked, despite crying on the way to school and often acting like a baby. He was good at athletics and quite bright. He did not like being away from home for anything – he did not go to play at friends’ houses. But it wasn’t just being away from home that caused the problem – Robert was simply terrified of school. Try and apply the three definitions of abnormality to Robert’s case… DSN: ______________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ FFA: ________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ DIMH: ______________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 11
  • 12. Would you class any of these people as abnormal?? Write Yes or No in the first column if you could define any of the cases as abnormal according to one or more of the definitions we have looked at and then identify which definition you used to define them as abnormal. Yes / No DSN Peter likes to sit next to people on the bus even when plenty of other seats are available Sara is a child genius who took her maths Alevel at the age of 5 Sammy talks to his pets Pamela is so stressed at work that she takes 6 months off Paula believes that someone is watching her every move Frank is a cannibal Neville is afraid to leave the house Tommy finds it impossible to form relationships with other people 12 F2F DMH