What is abnormal or normal? Abnormal literally means ‘away from the normal’. Although it does not state what normal is. What is meant by normal differs over time and across cultures; it depends, to a certain extent on circumstances. Is something normal because the majority are doing it? During the Second World War thousands of innocent people were murdered in the name of Adolf Hitler. The Nazi’s became the majority; however this does not make their behaviour normal. One way to decide what behaviour is normal is to consider how usual it is. In that case then, behaviour that is less common is abnormal.
Society has standards to which they expect people to conform, this reflects on how people behave. These standards are classed as normal. Anyone who violates society standards is then abnormal. All societies are different and they expect different behaviour, because of this it is impossible to give a universal meaning of the word abnormal. It is difficult to class a person as abnormal or indeed normal, because of the differences in people to begin with. “A statistical norm is to do with a way of being, a quality or representation that is expressed or understood by many individuals.
In other words, it is called average. High intelligence is as abnormal as low intelligence. ” J Cullberg (2006:09) Not all abnormal behaviours are undesirable, for example if a person is abnormally intelligent this is seen as desirable. Failure to function adequately could be classed as abnormal behaviour. Normal behaviour such as brushing teeth and getting dressed are judged as what a ‘healthy’ person is capable of doing. Abnormal behaviour in this case is when a person is unable to function properly. If abnormal behaviour interferes with adequate functioning then that person is considered abnormal.
This however, does have limitations such as, what is classed as adequate. Everyone’s views are different. What one person might see as acceptable another may class as unacceptable. But which could be classed as normal or abnormal? Abnormality may be seen as a deviation from an ideal mental health. Ideal mental health would there for be seen as having a positive mental attitude towards the self. An accurate perception of reality and resistance to stress. The psychodynamic approach to abnormality is explained by Freud in the systems of the mind, the id, ego and superego.
According to Freud abnormal behaviour is a product of the unconscious. The mind causes conflicts between the id, ego and superego yet these conflicts are outside our awareness. Unresolved conflicts and or early experiences cause mental abnormality. In the approach of the psychodynamic model of abnormality healthy psychological functioning would mean serious psychological conflict would be absent. No trauma in terms of psychosexual development and ego structure would be in balance. The biological approach to abnormality argues that abnormality is a product of malfunction or genetics.
It suggests that abnormal behaviour is inherited and certain genes lead to abnormal biochemistry and or abnormal neuroanatomy. Behavioural approach to abnormality suggests that abnormal behaviours are learned through conditioning. Behaviour whether it be normal or abnormal is learned and it can also be unlearned. What causes abnormality? Genetics, learned behaviour or unresolved conflicts? Do all of them contribute to a person becoming abnormal? There are several types of depression, unipolar also known as major depression, biopolar also known as manic depression, seasonal affected syndrome (SAD) or postnatal depression.
All types of depression can become serious to the sufferer if it is left undiagnosed. Symptoms of depression can vary from each person. A doctor may conduct a questionnaire asking the patient several questions about the way they think and feel. Depressive people usually suffer with low self esteem, loss of sex drive, lack of concentration and ability to think and possible suicidal thoughts. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, loss of interest in personal care and disruptive sleep patterns, irritability, sadness, weight loss or gain, menstrual changes and loss of energy.
According to studies by BBC Health as many as 35% of the population will experience an episode of depression at some point in their lives. “While most people occasionally feel down, severe depression makes coping with everyday life difficult. ” ww. bbc. co. uk What causes depression? Genetics? Chemical imbalances? Or psychological problems? There is some evidence to suggest that depression is genetic, it runs in families, but at the same time evidence also suggests otherwise. Studies conducted on identical and non identical twins can provide the most evidence for this argument.
Harrington et al in 1993 estimated that as many as 29% of those affected with depression already have a family member also with depression. With reference to The NHS Direct web site on depression, studies have shown that different versions of a gene can be inherited which can have an effect on the serotonin level in a person’s brain. Serotonin is a mood changing chemical. This however could also be described as a biochemical cause for depression. Studies on twins by Bierut et al in 1999 Australia, reported an inherited factor of around 40%, yet it also claimed that the environment also plays a big part in depression.
The same study found that gender differences can have an influence on depression, it is more likely for a female to develop depression then it is for a male. “Though we all suffer low moods, from 7% to 12% of men will suffer diagnosable depression in their lifetime. The figure is from 20% to 25% for women. ” www. fightingdepression. co. uk In 1996 McGuffin et al found that 46% concordance in identical twins compared to 20% in non identical twins, this showed no evidence however, as to the affect of a shared environment.
Chemical imbalances or biochemical factors have also been blamed as a cause of depression. It has been claimed that depression is linked and perhaps caused by a disturbance in brain chemistry. There are three main neurotransmitters that are believed to be involved. Noradrenaline – A neurotransmitter associated with eating and alertness. Too little has been associated with depression and too much has been associated with schizophrenia. Dopamine -A neurotransmitter associated with movement, attention and learning and the brain’s pleasure and reward system.