Life Span Perspective

Essay by sandraandcjUniversity, Bachelor'sA, July 2010

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 26 times

Psychology � PAGE \* MERGEFORMAT �5�


Normal and Abnormal Psychology

Sandra Lattin

Angela Hamp

University of Phoenix

Normal and Abnormal Psychology

In asking the question of what normal and abnormal psychology is, we must first consider the definitions of the terms "normal" and "abnormal". By all rights, "abnormal" is an exceptionally confusing word dependent on what is called "normality". Both terms may understandably change radically from one era to another and one culture to another. How then do we decide upon what is normal and what is abnormal? Indeed, this is much more of a philosophical problem than a psychological one. For understandable reasons of practicability, it is necessary to create a roughly uniform definition of abnormal psychology that we can more or less agree upon as a group. This definition would naturally be general in its nature, but the common definition of the discipline of abnormal psychology often looks something like this:

Abnormal psychology is the study of behavior patterns that diverge widely from generally accepted norms, especially those of a pathological nature.

The common definition of normal behavior often looks something like this:

Normal behavior is what is prescribed by the constraints of society.

One simple way of parsing the difference between abnormality and normality is to use a simply statistical set of criteria. In such an instance, one simply maps out the frequency of such a behavior among the population and plots it on a graph. Then, one could measure a specific person's behavior in comparison to the graph: The defining characteristic is uncommon behavior, a significant deviation from the average/majority. Many human characteristics are normally distributed . . . . Basically, we're talking about a nice symmetrical bell-shaped curve along which we can rank people: more people fall around the...