Examine the Concepts of Normality and Abnormality

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Examine the concepts of normality and abnormality (22mks) Abnormality may be defined as behavior that causes distress, loss of freedom, physical or emotional pain, and increased risk of death or injury to self or something that causes a disability of some sort. Abnormal behaviour is however difficult to diagnose because it is, to a large extent, based on the symptoms people exhibit. Psychiatrists and psychologists use a standardized system called a diagnostic manual to help them but this system isn’t without faults. Since there is no clear definition of normality or abnormality – and symptoms of the same psychological disorders may vary not only between individuals but also between social and cultural groups, it is clear that a…show more content…
Deviation from these criteria would mean that the health of an individual is “abnormal”. The criteria includes absence of mental illness, realistic self perception and contact with reality, a strong sense of identity and positive self esteem, autonomy and independence, ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships, ability to cope with stressful situations and capacity for personal growth and self actualization. However, majority of people would be categorized as “abnormal” if the criteria were applied to them. It is somewhat easy to establish criteria for what constitutes “physical health” but it is impossible to establish and agree on what constitutes “psychological health”. These criteria were criticized by Szasz. According to him, psychological normality and abnormality are culturally defined concepts which are not based on objective criteria. Furthermore, the criteria in the model are culturally biased value judgments i.e, they reflect an idealized rather than realistic perception of what it means to be normal in a Western culture. Michael Foucalt argued that the idea of “madness” being an illness to be treated by medical professionals was an idea that developed in order to “silence” and control people who did not live up to the standards of reason that were introduced in the enlightenment. Szasz, Foucalt and Rosenhan wanted a

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