Laughing abruptly, talking to self, killing animals, forcing someone to have sex, and attempting to commit suicide are just a few characteristics that would be considered as abnormal behavior. We all might know someone or have crossed paths with someone who has displayed abnormal behavior, but what is abnormal behavior? Is a person considered abnormal because they behave differently from you, or is abnormal behavior defined by our socio-cultural background? To define, abnormal behavior is behavior that is socially unacceptable, distressing, atypical, maladaptive, and /or the distortion of one’s cognitive ability (Comer, 2005).
According to Wayne Weiten, author of Psychology: Themes and Variations, 9E, Weiten maintains abnormal behavior as a mental disorder. Weiten further validated his decision by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR). The DSM is used to explain abnormal behavior or psychopathology. For example, DSM-IV-TR provides a definition for abnormal behavior based on the belief that mental disorders lack a theoretic operational definition which covers all encounters (Weiten, 2012).
According to DSM-IV-TR there are six elements used to classify abnormal behavior. For example, suffering, maladaptiveness, deviancy, violation of standards of society, irritationality , and social discomfort are the behaviors which are identified in order to diagnose abnormal behavior ( Lefton, 2000). Since classifying is the core of science, it is imperative that abnormal behavior is classified accordingly. If we think about it, without labeling and establishing patterns of abnormal behavior, it might be difficult for researchers to communicate their findings to one another, and progress toward treating the various disorders would cease.
Prior to diagnosing abnormal behavior, the condition must be identified. In order to identify the condition the following six elements are assessed. (1) Atypical is behavior that is unusual and strange. It deviates from normal expectations and is looked upon as odd. An example of atypical behavior can be someone who likes to kill animals for the thrill of it. (2) Maladaptiveness is behavior that inhibits a person’s ability to adapt to certain situations. For example, maladaptive people tend to avoid situations because they have unrealistic fears. (3) Deviance refers to a state that is not seen as normal behavior. In other words, it is behavior that is considered to be weird odd or strange. For example, you are a school teacher but you like having sex with your students, or perhaps you are a lifeguard but you like to set at your post and sunbathe without clothes on. (4) Suffering, people who suffer from depression is clearly suffering mentally.
Their reason for being depressed may not be due to a death of a loved one instead they might be depressed without reason. Due to them being depressed, this can be considered as abnormal behavior. (5) Social Discomfort makes others around you uncomfortable due to you violating social rules; those around you are not at ease. For example, you are at a restaurant and a complete stranger sits at the table with you and began to tell you how they are having thoughts of suicide. (6) Irrationality and Unpredictability is when a person’s cognitive ability is somewhat distorted. For example, you are on the city bus and a person began screaming out words and his actions make no sense.
This would cause someone to view the gentleman’s behavior as abnormal (Butcher, Minkea, Hooley, 2010). Now that abnormal behavior has been defined, the method of diagnosing abnormal behaviors has been identified, and examples have been provided which coincides with the elements used to categorize abnormal behavior, we will review the following case study and provide an assessment. The case in review is of a gentleman named Jim. “Jim is a 48-year-old Caucasian male who is described as a loner.
For the past 15 years, Jim has maintained steady employment as a technical writer for a mid-size publishing company. Jim has never married, has no children and expresses little interest in interpersonal relationships, friendships, or relative interaction. Jim has no sense of humor, he is insensitive when he speaks, he unaware of his social mistakes, and he is very undeceive regarding opinions. After reviewing Jim’s brief social life it would be fair to say that Jim’s behavior is abnormal and can be considered as maladaptive. Jim appears to be very antisocial which has impaired him from having relationships with others. I came to the following conclusion after carefully reviewing the following about Jim:
1. Jim expresses little interest in interpersonal relationships with friends and family. 2. In Jim’s spare time, he likes to isolate himself by reading and playing computer games. 3. When Jim is in the presences of others, he often misses social cues which can make others feel uncomfortable. 4. He lacks the ability to discern when a conversation has ended and he has been known to express his opinions on things in a brutally honest way. 5. He lacks the ability to identify his social mistakes.
6. Jim is very nonchalant about his unlikely behaviors. 7. He appears more or less insensitive to the opinions of others. Abnormities are common in today’s society but some people have a difference in opinion regarding the DSM-IV and the stigma that is associated with being labeled as having a mental disorder (Lefton, 2000). To some it is imperative that DSM-IN is used to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of those who live with the specific conditions.
Professionals utilize the DSM-IV to ensure they are following the correct diagnostic criteria when they are providing both accurate and consistent diagnosis. In addition, DSM-IV helps establish criteria for diagnosis that can be used in research on psychiatric disorders. On the contrary, some people do not want to be labeled or stigmatized regarding mental conditions. Being labeled with a mental disorder could very well destroy a person’s life; just as going untreated for a mental disorder could destroy your life and everyone around you.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Revised 4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Butcher, J.N., Mineka, S. and Hooley, J.N. (2007). Abnormal Psychology. Boston: Pearson Education Inc, 13th Ed. Comer, R. J. (2005). Fundamentals of abnormal psychology (4th ed.) pg. 4 Lefton, L.A. (2000). Psychology (7th Edition): Psychological Disorders, 15, 519-524 Weiten, W. (2012). Psychology: Themes and Variations (9th ed)
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