Outline And Evaluate Attempts To Define Abnormality

564 Words3 Pages
One definition of abnormality is Failure to function adequately. People with psychological disorders often experience considerable suffering and distress and a general inability to cope with their everyday activities, such as being unable to go to work or take part in social activities. So common is this failure to function among those with mental disorders, doctors are required to take this into account when diagnosing an individual with psychological problems. Common examples would be severe depression which leads to empathy and inertia, meaning that a depressed person may fail even to get up in the morning, let alone hold down a job. However, failure to function adequately is a general sign of a disorder and not itself specific to any condition. Rosenhan and Seligman (1989) have suggested some characteristics of abnormal behaviour that are related to the FFA definition include: observer discomfort, unpredictability, irrationality and maladaptiveness. One limitation of Failure to Function Adequately is Cultural issues. Patterns of behaviour vary from culture to culture, so failing to function adequately may look different depending upon which culture you are in. The FFA criterion is likely to result in different diagnosis when applied to people from different cultures, because the standard of one culture being used to measure another. Individual Differences is another limitation. Another difficulty with applying this definition is that some psychological disorders may not prevent a person from functioning adequately. People can maintain adequate function in the face of clinical depression or anxiety. Conversely, those who cannot hold down a job and support a family may not have a psychological disorder but may suffer due to difficult economic conditions. Therefore, individual differences must be taken into account when applying this definition.
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