Abnormal psychology is an integral part of psychology. It studies abnormal behavior, makes attempts to understand the abnormal and then take appropriate measures in order to change it. The concept of abnormal behavior changed in the course of time from individual to individual, from culture to culture. Today the meaning of “abnormal” is connected with mental disorders. Abnormal psychology is aimed to help people who cannot adapt in the society and function normally among other people. This may occur due to genetics, physical conditioning, social interactions, reasoning and learning (Scum doctor.com). During the whole period of human development people tried to understand the reasons of what was perceived as abnormal behavior and therefore to change it. Three were three main reasons of abnormality: biological, supernatural and psychological. During the Stone Age the abnormal behavior was believed to be caused by spirits and demons. If someone’s behavior was considered abnormal, a hole was made in his head in order to let the evil spirit escape. Later such people underwent the procedure of exorcism; fluids were drained from their head. In the Middle Ages people were beaten and tortured as it should drive evil spirits away. In the 16th century a Swiss alchemist, physician and astrologist Paracelsus believed that abnormal behavior reflected in mental disorders was caused by the movements of planets and influence of the moon. The biological cause of abnormal behavior was claimed by Hippocrates. He strongly believed that abnormal behavior originated in human brain, which was responsible for intelligence, consciousness, wisdom and emotions, and therefore could be cured as any other disease. Later the social cause was attributed to the problem mental disorders. These stages lead to the consideration of abnormal psychology as a science.
Thus, abnormal psychology deals with mental disorders, i.d. abnormality. However it is not always easy to define who is normal and who is not. Abnormal is “deviating from the normal or average” (What is “abnormal”). That arises a very complex psychological problem of differentiation. There are several ways of defining abnormality. One of them is statistical deviation. Most personal characteristics of people are distributed a smooth bell-shaped curve; those people who stray far enough from the average indicator of this curve, are considered abnormal. But this curve does not take into consideration such outstanding abnormal deviations as genius and does not recognize maladaptive behavior like drinking and smoking. Still this method is scientific and objective. Abnormal behavior can be also classified by personal distress. A person satisfied with his or her life does not usually reveal features of abnormality, and vice versa: unhappy personality usually turns abnormal. The most common criterion of defining abnormality is maladaptiveness. There are two kinds of it: maladaptive to oneself or to society. However, all these definitions allow a great degree of flexibility. Abnormal is a rather relative term and it should be used carefully. Psychology gives certain characteristics of behavior when a person may demonstrate the presence of psychological and mental disorders. These categories include impaired functioning, long periods of discomfort, disruptive and bizarre behavior.
A theory of psychological development to account for psychological dysfunction was first advocated by Eric Ericson who pointed out eight tasks that established either normal or abnormal behavior: independence, trust, industry, enterprise, intimacy, individuality, integrity and productivity (Studer, 2006). A person could proceed to the next stage after the previous one was finished. If any stage appears not to be resolved in an adequate way, then abnormality may take place. It happens because the other stages cannot be addresses and as a result a mental illness may occur. Therefore troubles may occur with schooling, social environment, work, health care or financial services.
The biological/medical model deals with the psychological happenings to the body and the bio-chemical functioning of the brain. The biological/medical model tries to explain any deviation from the norm from the material point of view. The majority of troubles mainly occur in the psychological spheres of our life: physical disease, hormone imbalances, genetic abnormalities, neurochemical disturbances. In spite of the fact that this method is primarily concerned with corporeal world, biological mechanisms can be influenced by social considerations. All in all, the biological/medical theory offers a rather limited explanation of mental disorders and abnormal behavior.
The sociocultural model implies the idea that the terms of the abnormal behavior are defined by social and cultural context. Thus, poverty, unemployment, discrimination and many other factors play an important role in the efficacy of abnormal behavior, such as criminal behavior, for instance. Besides, cultural ideas, beliefs, stresses and pressures can also have an impact on human’s brain. All in all, the sociocultral model adds causality and context to the discussion of abnormal behavior.
In conclusion, the essence of abnormal behavior has been studied during the long period of time. In different