A subfield of psychology called “abnormal psychology” examines psychopathology and aberrant behaviour, frequently in the setting of clinical practise. The word encompasses a wide spectrum of diseases, including depression, OCD, and personality disorders.
Work in this area is frequently done by clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and counsellors.
The definition of “abnormal” is hotly contested. Who decides what constitutes “normal” behaviour, exactly? The social norms that are frequently used to distinguish between what is normal and what is abnormal can change throughout time, therefore it is difficult to come up with a universal definition.
The definition of abnormal psychology and the various issues it examines are covered in this page. It also discusses the definition of abnormality and some of the objections to abnormal psychology.
What Is a Psychological Disorder?
A mental health problem may be indicated by certain emotional,behavioral, and cognitive, and patterns, which are the main focus of abnormal psychology. Psychologists in this area are more concerned with the degree of pain that behaviours, concepts, or emotions may cause than with the difference between normal and pathological.
If a behaviour disrupts the person’s life or causes conflict with others, it is deemed “abnormal.” Such situations can necessitate some sort of mental health intervention due to the behaviour.
What Is Abnormality?
Although there are many ways to define abnormality, they often include the following characteristics:
Rarely does abnormal conduct occurs rarely. A definition that is purely based on data, though, is insufficient. Some beneficial and desirable healthy habits are also sporadic. The way a person behaves or works is unaffected by other unusual traits or behaviours. As a result, something shouldn’t be labelled abnormal just because it’s peculiar or unusual.
Unusual behaviour upsets others. These behaviours could irritate the person or irk and upset other people.
A person’s capacity to function is impacted by abnormal behaviour. People who exhibit these behaviours may find it difficult to go about their everyday lives normally, which can have an impact on their relationships, jobs, studies, and personal lives.
Social disruption is a result of abnormal behaviour. It could violate social norms and make it difficult for people to communicate with one another and maintain social bonds.
Various Viewpoints on Abnormal Psychology
Different points of view are used in abnormal psychology. In order to better understand and treat psychological diseases, many mental health professionals draw from a variety of disciplines, but some psychologists or psychiatrists may concentrate on a specific perspective.
This perspective is grounded in the theories of Sigmund Freud. According to the psychoanalytic perspective, many deviant behaviours are the result of unconscious wants, memories, and thoughts.
Although these emotions are unconscious, it is nonetheless thought that they have an impact on conscious behaviour.
This school of thought in therapy holds that people can discover and address some of the feelings that have been motivating suffering and maladaptive actions by examining their memories, behaviours, thoughts, and even dreams.
This method of studying abnormal psychology is centred on observable actions.
The goal of behavioural therapy is to reinforce healthy conduct rather than to reinforce unhealthy behaviour.
The behavioural approach doesn’t address the root reasons of the behaviour; it merely tackles the behaviour. A behavioural therapist may use techniques like classical conditioning and operant conditioning to help stop undesirable behaviours and teach new ones when dealing with abnormal behaviour.
This approach to abnormal psychology places a strong emphasis on understanding the underlying causes of diseases, which may include studying the biological roots of mental illness.
The biological underpinnings of mental illness are the main focus of this approach to abnormal psychology, which emphasises studying the underlying causes of disorders, which may include genetic inheritance, associated physical ailments, infections, and chemical imbalances. Despite the fact that medicine is sometimes combined with some form of psychotherapy, medical treatments are frequently pharmacological in origin.
The cognitive perspective to abnormal psychology examines how one’s own thoughts, perceptions, and logic contribute to psychological disorders. Cognitive therapies usually aim to help patients change their perceptions or reactions.
In a process called as cognitive behavioural therapy, cognitive therapy may also be combined with behavioural techniques (CBT).
Arguments against Abnormal Psychology
The discipline of aberrant psychology has its detractors. Some argue that there are a number of issues in this field, in addition to disagreements about the definition of the word “abnormal” itself.
Some people believe that this area stigmatises marginalised and oppressed people in particular. Others argue that abnormal psychology has a propensity to pathologize common variances in human behaviour.
Others contend that rather than taking a more comprehensive approach, the medical approach to mental illness frequently solely considers the biological and hereditary causes of distress. Additionally, it ignores the significant cultural variations in what is considered normal and deviant.
Research has also shown that increasing knowledge about abnormal psychology doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on the stigma associated with mental illness. According to one study, teaching students about abnormal psychology did not help students become more help-seeking or less stigmatised about mental illness or mental health.