Abnormal Behaviour

10th of March 2011
Access Essay Assignment:
Describe and evaluate the concepts of abnormal behaviour applying the models of statistical infrequency, deviation from social norms, failure to function adequately and ideal mental health.

When we talk about abnormal behaviour it is not always clear what we mean, as the definition of abnormality seems to change every 20 years or so. Not to mention the fact that different cultures have their own ever changing ideals on the subject. Is mental illness to do with gods and demons, is it simply chemical imbalances in the brain or is it, as Thomas Szasz puts it; just eccentricities, with the term mental illness being thought up by the state, as a way of controlling the masses?
    As both the elements and definitions of abnormality are ever changing, it would be an impossible task to talk about all the different theories and explanations for mental illness. So in this essay I will be focusing on the 7 elements of abnormality as described by Rosenhan and Seligman and the 4 definitions of mental abnormality fond in the “New Webster’s English Dictionary”. I will also have a brief look at Thomas Szasz’s claim that, “there is no such thing as abnormal behaviour; it is societies way of controlling people.”
      The 4 definitions of abnormality are: a statistical infrequency, any defect from the social norm, not to have mental health and an inability to function adequately in society. In the first part of this essay, I will be looking at these definitions and I will be examining both their strengths and weaknesses.
        The science of psychology and mental illness is based mainly on the behaviour of the majority. This behaviour being seen to be normal, and anyone who strays outside of these relatively narrow boundaries being considered abnormal, hence the expression “statistical infrequency”. Simply put, someone who does not fit the general rule is not normal. There are obvious problems with this as a definition of...