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Well-known member
Jul 19, 2010
middle earth
Abnormal Psychology studies abnormal behaviors; it examines the origins, manifestations, and treatments of disordered habits, thoughts, or drives. These may be caused by environmental, cognitive, genetic or neurological factors.

While it is relatively easy to spot people who are distressed or acting bizarre, it is much more difficult to define abnormality. As Reber noted in 1985: “The years have layered onto this term ... too many value judgements and any number of synonyms are preferable: maladaptive, maladjusted, deviant, etc.” Although suggested to be helpful, the use of different synonyms possibly made the situation worse.

Abnormal means departure from the norm. So very tall and very short people are abnormal as are very backward and very gifted people. Thus strictly speaking Einstein and Michelangelo were abnormal. Normal can even be seen as boring.

For clinical psychology, the issue is not so much whether the behavior is abnormal, as whether it is maladaptive, causing a person distress and social impairment. If a person’s behavior seems irrational or potentially harmful to themselves and others, we tend to think of that as abnormal. For the psychologist, it is called psychopathology; for the lay person, madness or insanity.

rest in link....



Well-known member
Mar 23, 2009
I think the emphasis on distress and social impairment is important . Although psychiatry often focuses on social impairment in relation to disturbing society rather than it's impact on the individual and their quality of life.