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In everyday life, the terms insanity, mental illness, psychopathology, emotional disturbance, behavior disorder, mental disorder, abnormality, and psychological disorder have roughly similar meanings. All are often applied to behavior that is highly unusual. The words sanity and insanity are primarily legal terms that require an either/or judgment. As suggested above, clear-cut "sane-versus insane" distinctions are difficult for even experts to make reliably. There will not use terms such as mental illness and psychopathology because such terms seem to imply that people with serious psychological problems are "ill." This idea, once widely accepted, is now hotly debated. The terms emotional disturbance, behavior disorder, and mental disorder are too narrow for use in a psychological content

Judging Abnormality and Psychological Disorder Some Key Factors

As the preceding discussion suggests, judging whether a person's functioning is abnormal and whether the person has a psychological disorder can be a complex process that involves weighing several factors. In the following section, some of these factors, the subjective ways in which they are used, and the ways they are sometimes misused.

Social Context

Very few behaviors are inherently abnormal. Abnormality must be judged in the context of a particular social situation. Alone at home, you may safely strip to your underwear, sing an aria into the mirror, and deliver your acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. But try this in your introductory psychology class, and your behavior will be considered abnormal. Try it repeatedly, and people may suggest that you seek "professional help" -not because of your behavior alone, but because you have chosen inappropriate times and places to display it. The same general principle applies to behavior’ across different cultures. Actions that are normal, expected and acceptable in one culture may be considered deviant and be quite unacceptable in another. An American visiting an Asian country might delight in eating a roast, only to vomit when told he has eaten dog. In some Asian countries, the American's behavior might be considered deranged. However in many western countries, a host who served his dinner guests roast dog might be considered deranged. By the same token, a belief that one is being tormented by demons- a belief apparently held by David Berkowitz- would not be considered abnormal, or even incorrect, in some cultures. To be considered abnormal, behavior must deviate mark¬edly from the accepted rules and practices of the society in which it occurs.

Theorists Thomas Szasz (I960, 1970) and Thomas Scheff (1966) have argued that social context should be the centerpiece of our thinking about abnormal behavior. According to both theorists, people labeled mentally ill are not so much "sick" as they are different- they deviate from the accepted social norms. Though these norms are unwritten, they are understood intuitively and taken for granted by most of the people in the society. 

Abnormal psychology is a branch of psychology concerned with mental and emotional disorders (as neuroses, psychoses, and mental retardation) and with certain incompletely understood normal phenomena (as dreams and hypnosis).There is a long history of attempts to understand and control behavior deemed to be aberrant or deviant (statistically, morally or in some other sense), and there is often cultural variation in the approach taken. The field of abnormal psychology identifies multiple causes for different conditions, employing diverse theories from the general field of psychology and elsewhere, and much still hinges on what exactly is meant by "abnormal". There has traditionally been a divide between psychological and biological explanations, reflecting a philosophical dualism in regard to the mind body problem, as well as different approaches to the classification of mental disorders.

Abnormal psychology is the scientific study of abnormal behavior in order to describe, predict, explain, and change abnormal patterns of functioning. It studies the nature of psychopathology, its causes, and its treatments. Of course, the definition of what constitutes "abnormal" has varied across time and across cultures. Individuals also vary in what they regard as "normal" or "abnormal" behavior, or merely idiosyncratic.

In general, abnormal psychology can be described as an area of psychology that studies people who are consistently unable to adapt and function effectively in a variety of conditions. The four main contributing factors to how well an individual is able to adapt include their genetic makeup, physical condition, learning and reasoning, and socialization.

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What is Abnormality ?

Abnormality and psychological disorder are emphasize two some broader terms. Definition of abnormality as significant deviation from commonly accepted patterns of behavior, emotion, or thought. Definition of psychological disorders as patterns of abnormal behavior,' emotions, or thought that significantly interfere with an individual's adaptation to important life demands and often cause distress in the individual or in others.

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