While abnormal psychology focuses on mental health problems,
we focus on modeling and duplicating exceptional skills.
What is Abnormal?
Abnormal means statistically rare. If you have unusual skills,
physical features or a high IQ - compared to a given population - you are
abnormal. If you are sane in a lunatic asylum - you are abnormal. If you sing
about Jesus with your arms in the air in a fundamental church, then you're
normal. Do it in a Catholic church and you're abnormal. Do it in a government
building and you might be arrested.
A better question than "What is normal?"
is "What is appropriate?"
As there are few accepted standards for maturity, happiness or wellbeing,
we use our expectations to decide whether or not someone is normal.
Unfortunately, people who do not fulfill expectations may be called deviant
(Harpending & Cochran 2002).
- Social - every society has guidelines or cultural
expectations for acceptable behavior. If you
reject these social norms - you may be called abnormal.
- Emotional - your community probably has rules
about which emotions can be expressed and how those emotions may be
expressed. If you break these rules - you may be called abnormal.
- Psychological - normal behavior includes accepting
stress and discomfort. If you speak about your distress or discomfort when
most people do not - you may be called abnormal.
- Domestic - normal behavior includes your ability
to cope. If you show that you cannot cope with your everyday
life - you may be called abnormal.
- Medical - normal behavior is a lack of disease
symptoms. If you have an unusual medical disorder - or if you heal very
quickly - you may be called abnormal.
- Success - normal goals are within reach of most
people. Abnormal goals require abnormal intelligence, abnormal effort or
If you are idealistic amongst realists,
or realistic amongst idealists, you may be called stupid. If you are
abnormally successful ... you may be called eccentric.
abnormalities are opinions by observers; statistical comparisons to some population. Judgments of
mental abnormalities often follow a legal,
political or theological agenda.
Definitions of abnormality depend on the individual, the
observer and the community to which the individual is compared, and each
definition applies to a limited range of behavior. In some
families and communities, for example, it is abnormal to enjoy
financial success or happy partnership.
People who cannot differentiate
between real and unreal experiences,
logical and illogical thoughts, or appropriate and inappropriate behavior
may be diagnosed as psychotic. Such labels can devastate lives.
Can you differentiate between
real and unreal experiences?
If you think about lemons you will probably
Does that mean that you are abnormal? No!
A society is composed of many elements, and if these elements
rapidly change, the results are unpredictable. Mental illness often
reflect the families and communities in which the illness was perceived. Some of the injustices of normal societies are only
exposed by abnormal reactions.
Most mental health professionals assess the normality or abnormality
of individuals during interviews. People may be asked broad questions such as:
“Have you ever felt depressed about life?”; “Have you ever experienced
a major change in your appetite?” or “Were you ever easily distracted?”
Questions like these can be honestly answered positively by
almost everybody. However, unless there is something to gain by
honesty, normal people lie. Sometimes lying is
normal and telling the raw truth is abnormal.
When clinicians decide that they have enough information to determine whether
a person is abnormal ... they can make diagnoses that cannot be confirmed by any
laboratory ... they can make assessments that can haunt people for years.
Some people are reluctant to talk about their fantasies,
sex life, or use of drugs. Some people may suffer from more than one set of
symptoms, and few symptoms are specific to one mental problem. For example,
overwork, infections, jet lag, family stress, drug abuse and lack of sleep can
produce symptoms similar to psychosis.
If it weren't for the fact every one of us is
abnormal, there wouldn't
be any point in giving each person a separate name.
. Developmental Disorders
. Attachment Disorders
Treatment of Abnormal Behavior
Normal mental health problems can be shared by the
majority of a community. Examples include parental alienation, racism,
immaturity, emotional incest and stupidity.
The consequences and prognosis of some of these normal
behaviors can be as bad as, or worse than, many
abnormal behaviors called mental health disorders.
Health professionals seem more concerned with controlling unusual people with
drugs, rather than understanding their goals and capabilities. Schizophrenia
is primarily treated with drugs, and phobias with conversations. Accepted treatments for depression may be combinations
of drugs and conversations.
Less than half of people with mental disorders seek professional
help if mental abnormalities carry a social stigma. In some
communities and cultures, mental disorders are considered normal
and psychotherapy may be perceived as futile.
Here in California if you
don't get psychotherapy,
you may be accused of being in denial! San Francisco
Do you want to be normal?
Who have you chosen as role models?
Many people feel emotions that they do not understand or do things they would
prefer to avoid. We find that many people who report emotional and behavioral
problems are acting out the consequences of parental conflicts and abuse.
If I don't wash my hands I feel horrible
- so I wash my hands a lot.
If my hands feel dirty,
I feel like I'm a little girl again,
when I fell into dog poop and my
whole family laughed at me.
If I wash my hands ... the laughter goes away ... for a time.
Many people attempt to
control their disappointments or
emotions with distractions, with cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs.
We help people solve emotional and relationship problems.
Please consult a physician
about medical conditions.
Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
Plagiarism is theft.
Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018
All rights reserved.