Normality/Abnormality Mental Health Criteria Learning Outcome: Examine the concepts of normality and abnormality. Discuss validity and reliability in diagnosis. Success Criteria: Use of DSM and other avenues to define normality and identify mental disorders.
Lets look at the ib handout • Abnormal Psychology
What does normal mean? • In groups of 2-3, come up with your best definition for the word “normal.” • Use this definition to discuss what “abnormality” could mean.
Statistical Abnormality • Assumes average behavior. • Statistically unusual behavior is attributed to mental illness, perhaps because assuming that people are suffering from some sort of psychiatric condition helps us understand the strangeness of their behavior.
Deviation from Social Norms • Social norms are not necessarily related to statistical norms. • The expected behavior is that which the rules of society and culture dictate is appropriate for that context. • When people violate such rules, we have a tendency to assume there is something wrong with them, and it is easy to attribute this to some kind of madness. However, there are three key problems with this approach. Can you think of what they might be?
3 problems with Social Norms Approach: • Social norms vary enormously across cultures and social institutions. • Historical variation. Past models of madness would now be acceptable. • What is considered to be sociably acceptable or unacceptable has been established by groups with social power. (In your groups discuss who in your society/culture, makes the rules.)
Think about behavior you have seen in another culture that you found strange. Then think about behavior that is normal in your culture that might be considered strange in another culture. • Why is it important to understand the influence of culture and history on the way we view behavior?
Maladaptiveness & Adequate Functioning • Another way to decide what is abnormal is to assume that all humans perform behaviors that are good for them in their particular environment context. • Behaviors that threaten one’s ability to function well within the social context can be considered maladaptive. • This approach works well when we consider such conditions such as alcoholism and anorexia, where it is clear that a persons health is in danger. • What else falls into this category? Discuss.
Practice • Read pages 144-148 in your textbook.