Abnormal psychology

Essay by lcobb001University, Bachelor'sA+, August 2006

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'Abnormal behaviour' can be defined as behaviour which is unusual, socially unacceptable, dangerous to themselves or others, or whether a person is in a significant amount of personal distress. However, each of these must be defined individually and the cultural background must always be taken into account. Although there is a continuum along which everyone will at some point suffer depressed moods, several different criteria must be taken into account before deciding whether the depressed mood a person may be suffering from is abnormal or not. The cause of the depressed mood also varies due to the many different paradigms which have branched out from psychology over the last few decades and even centuries. The psychoanalytic and biological paradigms are two paradigms which address the cause of depressed moods very differently.

There are many different criteria which have been developed in today's societies which together, determine what is considered 'normal' behaviour and what is considered 'abnormal' behaviour.

However, these criteria vary enormously across different societies and cultures. Therefore we have to consider many different cultural and social aspects before we can define any behaviour as being abnormal. There is a definite continuum along which people's behaviour will run. Therefore, it is very hard to draw a solid line to determine when behaviour may be deemed more abnormal than normal. Firstly, when behaviour is 'unusual', it may be defined as abnormal but what one person in one culture may deem unusual may be considered perfectly acceptable behaviour in another culture. Unusual behaviour can be considered behaviour which is an uncommon occurrence in a culture, for example hallucinations, panic attacks or hearing voices in western cultures is considered unusual and so a person who experiences one or more of these behaviours could be considered abnormal. However, if the person...