Normality V/S Abnormality

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PART ON E Normality, Abnormality, and Adjustment Disorder CHAPTER 1 Defining and Classifying Psychopathology IRVING B. WEINER 3 D efining and Classifying Psychopathology 5 L earning about psychopathology through case studies begins with identifying the nature of abnormal psychological functioning and determining how it differs from normal behavior. This is not a simple matter because normality has traditionally been defined in various ways and from different perspectives. Experts have also disagreed about whether psychologically normal and abnormal conditions are continuous phenomena involving similar dimensions of personality or whether they constitute distinctive states of mind that require separate sets of concepts if they are to be described adequately. The first two sections of this chapter discuss alternative ways of defining psychological normality and some implications of considering it continuous or discontinuous with abnormal functioning. The third section of the chapter addresses the utility of a classification system in grouping and distinguishing among different types of psychological disorders, and the fourth section indicates the basis for choosing the topics of the case studies presented in Chapters 2 through 19. Identifying Psychological Normality Psychological normality has most often been defined either as an average, an ideal, or a level of adjustment. Normality as an average is a statistical definition that identifies the typical or most common behaviors among a group of people as being normal for that group. This average perspective on what it means to be normal is what someone means when he or she says to another person, “Why can’t you be like everyone else?” or “Get with the program!” Identifying some large middle percentage of a group of persons as showing normal behavior has the benefit of
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