Challenges in Defining and Classifying Normal and Abnormal Behavior with Regards to Age

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Challenges in defining and classifying normal & abnormal behavior with regards to age In the study of abnormal psychology, one of the contentions often debated upon is the determination of abnormal behavior in terms of specific demographics, such as age, gender, and race. However, determining abnormal behavior in terms of age (for example) is a problematic endeavor in that the concept of 'abnormal behavior' itself is subject to different social (cultural) interpretations. One of the challenges encountered in determining normal and abnormal behavior in general (which includes age) is social norms. Because social norms vary across societies and cultures, an acceptable behavior in one culture might be considered abnormal in another. Another challenge to determining normal/abnormal behavior is "historical variation" in terms of acceptable and unacceptable behavior. An example would be the hyperactivity of children: before, this behavior is considered normal as children are considered playful and have short attention span as a result. However, over time, psychologists have identified this kind of behavior as not normal for children, and individuals who demonstrate hyperactivity and very short attention span as having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Butcher, 2010:146). At best, objective determination of normal/abnormal behavior is through diagnostic systems, one of which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also called DSM. Published

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