Abnormality is defined by society and the general public as to what differs from the normal standard fully functioning way of living. Each of us has unique behaviour that means we can stray easily from social norms but does that make us abnormal? The definition of Abnormality is a deviation from social norms which means that the individual’s behaviour is not similar to the general public which ultimately means that they cannot function in society as others do. This can cause them to be isolated or frowned upon by society for behaving in a certain way that is not a social norm.
These norms are what define the social active and standard person they also cause us to follow one another in behaviour so each individual abides by an invisible code of social norms. For example if a person was to start horrifically screaming and laughing at intervals while head-butting a shop window would in the eyes of the public be seen as abnormal or simply crazy and this person would not fit into the social norms which means they are deviating from them.
However the average reasonable man could also deviate from social norms for example just because someone does not conform to societies’ rules this does not necessarily make them mad, they may just be a grumpy teenager. What really matters is the context of the behavior that could be understood which provides reasoning for the abnormal behavior which is actually very accepted in society for example if you saw a person dressed as a gorilla you would question their intentions but if they told you they were going to a fancy dress party then there would be a reason for the deviation.
Failure to function adequately: under this definition, a person is considered abnormal if they are unable to cope with the demands of everyday life. They may be unable to perform the behaviors necessary for day-to-day living e. g. self-care, hold down a job, interact meaningfully with others, make themselves understood etc. Rosenhan & Seligman (1989) suggest the following that define failure to function adequately: Suffering, Maladaptiveness, unpredictability and loss of control, Causes observer
discomfort, with this there are unspoken rules on how to behave and if a person’s actions cause another person to witness discomfort it can be judged as a failure to function and irrational behavior. One limitation of this definition is that apparently abnormal behavior may actually be helpful, function and adaptive for the individual. For example, a person who has the obsessive-compulsive disorder of hand-washing may find that the behavior makes him cheerful, happy and better able to cope with his day.
Failure to function adequately starts with a failure of some sense of personal wellbeing and failing to make a contribution to a larger group. For example, Personal distress and discomfort is a leading sign and also voices telling you to do things that you don’t want to. Behaving bizarrely regularly is an obvious failure to function this is how failure to function and deviation from social norms connect together if these actions are present in a small minority of society.
There are also limitations to failure to function adequately for example some states that cause person distress are actually appropriate responses and may make you think irrationally. Also it is impossible to measure personal distress and maladaptiveness in a objective way. It also depends on the context of which the behavior is set in, and how trauma can effect a person’s failure to function because of past experiences. For example obsessive cleaning disorder may not be a failure to function adequately disorder because it is so common but in fact most of society would look at OCD as a failure to function daily.
Cultural differences can create a negative perspective from the standard city culture and can make on lookers feel like this is a failure to function. In Asia there is a condition called Koro that makes women feel their breasts are retracting back into their body and men feel like their penis is, so they bind them up with metal wire to stop them. This is a belief of the native people and it is a social norm to them but it is a failure to function for a middle aged lawyer in Dunstable. These differences can be seen in many different perspectives.