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Lecture 1 Notes

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University of Toronto St. George

1 PSY240 Lecture Notes Lecture 1 January 11, 2011 What is Abnormal? What is normal in one culture may be completely abnormal in another culture Things that catch you off guard as unexpected issue of context Context is Critical Rosenhan (1973) tried to highlight importance of context on interpretation of behaviour and the stigma of labeling behaviours as abnormal o Group of experimenters pretended to have certain symptoms in order to be diagnosed had trouble leaving institution, their normal life actions were interpreted as symptoms (such as writing notes). Study shows how detrimental it is to label abnormal behaviour when not actually doing an assessment context of assessments also is important How is Abnormality Defined? Cultural relativism and social norms o There are no universal standards for labeling a behaviour as abnormal, can only be labeled as abnormal in comparison to social context o What is perceived is normal or abnormal across cultures, includes religious groups, age groups, and genders Cultural examples hallucinations being spiritual? Family members sleeping in the same bed o Advantages more acceptance o Disadvantages can lead to stereotyping Unusualness or statistical deviation o What is normal can be defined statistically by what is average behaviour; therefore, what is abnormal can be defined by what is rare in the population. For example behaviours abnormal in Western culture transvestites o Advantages gives a place to draw the line o Disadvantages Discomfort o Subjectively perceived feelings of distress and difficulty coping with lifes demands are signs of abnormality depression, anxiety
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