Abnormality can be defined as a failure to function adequately. This means that anyone who is suffering and unable to function on a daily basis is labelled as abnormal.”
Psychologists will assess individuals using the DSM-IV and will also assess the different levels of functioning as indicated by the Global Assessment of Functioning. It is apparent that individuals can function at different levels within society, if a person is identified as ‘abnormal’ to others but it not at risk of harming themselves or others and is able to function within society then no intervention is required.
However, psychological research conducted by Rosenman & Seligman suggests that there are 7 characteristics indicating abnormality as a failure to function adequately. They are: Suffering, Maladaptiveness, Unconventionality of behaviour, Unpredictability, Irrationality and incomprehensibility, Observer discomfort, and Violation of moral standards.
- Definition is not the whole picture: It does not really define abnormality, it just determines the extent of a persons problems and the likelihood of them needing professional help.
- There are exceptions to the rule: sometimes people behave uncharacteristically or inadequately, but this does not make them abnormal. Therefore this definition cannot be accurately applied to all individuals.
- The direction of causality may be different: the inability to cope with life might be the cause of a mental disorder, not always a symptom of one.