Abnormal Psychology: a 2100 word essay on psychological disorders and dysfunctions, atypical behaviors, psychological testing and behavioral assesment

Essay by Toy_321College, UndergraduateA, January 2003

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Abnormal Psychology

The definition of "psychological disorder" is as follows: A psychological dysfunction within an individual that is associated with distress or impairment in functioning and a response that is not typical or culturally expected. There are three main components to this definition. They can be designated as a) psychological dysfunction, b) distress or impairment and c) atypical response.

Psychological dysfunction is when you fail to function as would be considered normal, whether cognitively, behaviorally or emotionally. The problem with this explanation is that a psychological dysfunction is not necessarily a psychological disorder. Psychological dysfunction is on a continuum, making it impossible to draw the line between normal and abnormal. It is possible to have a psychological dysfunction as minor as feeling faint when getting a flu shot, or as major as fainting five or ten times a week just at the thought of blood. This means that having a dysfunction does not automatically qualify as having a disorder.

Important factors associated with a psychological disorder are distress and impairment. Distress is usually experienced, but once again, to be distressed does not mean you have a psychological disorder. It is normal to be distressed, and it is possible to have a psychological disorder without being distressed (i.e. manic episodes), but distress is a large part of defining the term "psychological disorder". Impairment is another factor, but like distress, you can easily be impaired without having a disorder. It is considered a part of a disorder when, for example, you are so shy that you avoid any interactions with other people.

Atypical responses or behaviors are a large part of psychological disorders, but are very hard to define. What may be considered normal in one culture could be cause for death in another. Abnormality can also be seen as positive in...