Essentials Of Abnormal Psychology

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Psychology as a whole can be defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. One fascinating aspect of psychology is the subsection known as abnormal psychology. This essay will define what abnormal psychology is; outline the various criteria used to define abnormal behavior and discuss the differences between Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists, and Social Workers.
First we must define what abnormal psychology is. One of the more succinct definitions can be found in Essentials of Abnormal Psychology: In a Changing World:
Abnormal psychology is the branch of the science of psychology that addresses the description, causes, and treatment of abnormal behaviour patterns.
Nevid, J.S Greene, B. Johnson, P.A. Taylor, S. Macnab,
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Nevid, J.S Greene, B. Johnson, P.A. Taylor, S. Macnab, M. (2012). essentials of Abnormal Psychology: in a changing world (Third Canadian edition) [Texidium version]. Retrieved from
Great care must be taken not to generalize across settings as to what is normal and abnormal. Cultural differences, practices and rituals play significant roles within any society and attempts to standardized diagnoses and treatment may end up causing harm to the individual seeking help.
The third criterion is “the person’s perception or interpretation of reality is faulty” speaks to how a person is interpreting the reality of their environment through their sensory systems as well as holding unfounded ideas. This can be in the form of visual and/or auditory hallucinations and delusions or ideas of persecution. Those members of society reporting hallucinations or verbally expressing delusions/persecution often have their behavior labelled as
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As previously mentioned behavior that consistently puts a person in “harm’s way” or behavior that can irreparably maim or even kill may be considered abnormal. In order to classify this type of behavior one must carefully examine the context and precipitating factors before the behavior occurs as well as the cultural norms of the society. In North America self-harm behaviours such as cutting one’s self would be considered abnormal. However, two adults getting into a fight while playing an organized game of competitive hockey in North America would not be considered abnormal by most people. Both can be dangerous behaviors but fighting within the context of an organized sport is typically considered a normal behavioral response. Conversely, the ritualistic scarring practices of certain tribes in the Congo would not be considered abnormal based on their cultural practices. Also of note, in North America the practice of tattooing and branding were once considered deviant, i.e. abnormal. As cultural expectations changed and acceptance grew tattoos have become “mainstream” meaning they are now considered more normal than abnormal by society as a whole. These changes must be taken into consideration before any label of abnormal is

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