• There are 3 main definitions that you will need to know for the exam, make sure you know them off by heart!
  • You should also make sure that you can give 2 weaknesses of each definition.

Deviation from Social Norms

Social norms are implicit rules about how one ought to behave and anything that violates these rules is considered abnormal.

  • Weakness- The context of the behaviour matters. E.g. if you saw someone walking down the street dressed as a banana you may think this behaviour was abnormal, however if you knew they were going to a fancy dress party then you would consider this normal.
  • Weakness- Just because someone does not conform to societies’ rules this does not necessarily make them mad, they may just be a rebellious teenager.

Deviation From Ideal Mental Health

This definition states that mentally healthy people possess certain characteristics and anyone who deviates from the ideal picture is abnormal. Such characteristics include: self actualisation (reaching your potential), autonomy (the ability to function alone) and self esteem.

  • Weakness- Nobody knows what your potential is, so you cannot know when you’ve reached it.
  • Weakness- It is too ideal. E.g. just because you have low self esteem it does not make you abnormal.

Failure to Function Adequately

Society has expectations and obligations about how one should live their lives and contribute to society and if people do not meet the obligations they are considered abnormal.

  • Weakness- It is very judgemental. E.g- you may not have a job because you are lazy, this does not mean you are abnormal.
  • Weakness- At some times in our lives (after the death of a loved one) it would be abnormal to function adequately.

A weakness of all the definitions is that because they are linked to culture and social norms these will change over time, place and culture. Therefore there will never be any consistency in diagnosis of abnormality across cultures.