Abnormal Psychology: Ideal Mental Health And Ways To Diagnose It

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Social Norms

Social norms are expected standards of acting in a society according to what the rest of the society are doing. These norms could either be made into law or they could be set by a society on how people in a society should behave and how they should think. This particular definition therefore states that anyone who is behaving abnormally, is breaking the rules of that society. If there is a person who continuously breaks the social norms it could be argued that they are abnormal, and might even suggest that they might even have a mental disorder that is stopping them from behaving according to the social norms. Social norms can however be put into question as they change over time. And something that was abnormal in 1960 might be classed as a social norm in this current day and age. Like for example being an unmarried mother with a child was classed as abnormal, and they where outcasts in society. Sometimes they would be demanded by society to give up their babies. Because of this it would be difficult to validate this definition alone as one that defines abnormality. Also different cultures have different social norms and this could pose a problem. Like for example in British culture it is normal and polite to finish all the food on your plate, whereas in India if you were to do this people around would think that, this is a sign that you are still hungry. Again this suggest that what is normal in one culture can be seen as abnormal in another culture. Therefore it could be argued that we can not use this definition to define abnormal behaviour. It could be argued that the deviation from social norms definition lacks strength. Because it suggest that anyone who does not abide by the social norms is abnormal. It also does not differentiate between social deviant and mental abnormality. As someone who stole something might have broken the social norms, however they might not have any mental health disorders. This is therefore a disadvantage because it shows that the deviation from social norms in not adequate in identifying social norms.

Ideal Mental Health

This is a definition of abnormality. There are many descriptions of normality and if a person does not fit into this notion of normality their behaviour is classed as abnormal.

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Deviation from ideal mental health there is a problem with this definition as the characteristics of ideal mental health could be seen as too idealistic. This is a disadvantage as if this is true, then only a hand full of people would ever reach self-actualization. And therefore the rest would be classed as abnormal. It also means that if the majority of people could not achieve self-actualization it would therefore become the new normal. So this definition of abnormality is very poor. It is also a disadvantage because you need subjective judgment to figure out what is missing before you can say someone is abnormal. For example one individual might lack three things that might suggest they are abnormal, whereas another might only lack one which means that this is a disadvantage because when subjective judgement is used in this way it will limit the overall validity, meaning that this limits the use of this definition of abnormality.


It looks at the way mental health is supposed to be. A strength is that this definition makes it possible for a person struggling, to have a specific intervention if their behaviour is abnormal. Their unusual thinking could be worked on to help their behaviour to become normal. This definition aims to focus on the helpful strategies instead of the opposite.


The DSM V is used by clinicians and psychiatrist to diagnose mental health illnesses in patients. It was recently updated in 2013 and it was published by the American Psychiatric Association.


Firstly by creating a standard terminology for mental health, it removes ambiguity in patients’ records for treatments as well as allows researchers to convey their findings in a realm of clearly defined concepts. This also makes the information in the DSM applicable to many settings, from the research facility to the outpatient clinic.

Secondly it categorizes disorders based on similar symptoms, causes and behaviours. This helps clinicians and researchers diagnose patients easily by identifying the category of applicable disorders.


The most common problem is that the categorization of disorders by the symptoms places a stronger emphasis on the more outwardly symptoms.

Another problem is that it can be seen as involving bias where some of the disorders as some of them might be seen as controversial. Like for example when homosexuality was seen as a mental health disorder.

Hare’s psychopathy checklist

Hare’s psychopathy checklist is defined as an assessment rating scale defined for use with incarcerated male offenders for the assessment of traits and behaviours underlying the clinical construct of psychopathy.


The Hare’s psychopathy checklist is highly labour intensive. To get the correct results you need a trained examiner, a semi-structural clinical interview. And also a detailed review of the file data.

Another disadvantage noted is that the ratings are based on institutional records. And institutional records often have missing information which means that it will lack validity


There is good evidence to support that the hares psychopathy checklist is a very reliable instrument.

The pcl-r also has good generalization across diverse forensic populations.

The validity of the hares psychopathy checklist in the criminal justice system is very well established as well. Therefore more in-depth results were able to be found and published


  1. Hare, R. D. (2003). The Hare Psychopathy Checklist—Revised (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON, Canada: Multi-Health Systems. Viewed on 11/03/2019 www.americanpsychologicalassoaciation.com
  2. Published by psychology hub, viewed on 11/03/2019 www.Pshychologyhub.co.uk
  3. Published by Dr Pamela Buchanan viewed on 08/03/2019 www.drpamelablog.co.uk


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