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Abnormal Psychology





Abnormal psychology: the study of abnormal behavior, including theories and research about causes, assessment, and treatment

Psychopathology: an abnormal pattern of behavior that is unusual, distressing, dysfunctional, and that may cause the sufferer to be dangerous to self or others

  1. Criteria for defining abnormal behavior include:

    1. Personal distress: subjective experience of suffering

    2. Statistical rarity: has unusual behaviors (e.g., binge eating)

    3. Maladaptive behavior: has impaired functioning (e.g., insomnia, poor reality testing)

    4. Violation of social norms: exhibits behavior that is socially undesirable

    5. Danger to self or to others: usually dangerous to self via poor judgment

  2. No single criterion is adequate; need to consider cultural norms in defining abnormality

  3. The official definition of abnormal behavior stresses:

    1. Impairment: difficulty in carrying out everyday functions (e.g., work, maintaining relationships) in an adaptive manner

    2. Distress: emotional suffering (e.g., anxiety, depression)

    3. Significant risk of pain, death, or important loss of freedom (e.g., self-mutiliation)

  4. No sharp dividing line between normal and abnormal