The problem with this is:
a)Not all forms of psychological disorders cause distress (i.e. mania, psychopathy)
b) Not all forms of distress are psychological disorders (i.e. childbirth/hunger)
Disability (impairment in some part of life which is important) is a characteristic of abnormal
The problem with this is the same as that of personal distress (above): i.e. transvestism is
currently diagnosed as a psychological impairment if it distresses the person; however it is not
necessarily a disability. In some cases transvestites live successful lives and only cross dress in
Also some circumstances count as a disability but do not fall in the field of abnormal psychology
(i.e. being too short to play basketball)
The characteristic of personal distress and unexpectedness are closely related
A behaviour is considered abnormal if it personal distress a person feels is unexpected, in that the distress
is out of proportion to the expected response from environmental factors/stressors
I.e. in anxiety disorders, it is considered abnormal because the anxiety is out of proportion to the situation
(worrying money when you are well off). However hunger is not considered abnormal because the distress
which is hunger is expected when you don’t eat.
History of Psychopathology
Before the age of scientific inquiry, anything beyond human control, including psychological disorders
were said to be the cause of supernatural powers.
Demonology:The idea that an evil being, (the devil or demon) may dwell within a person and
control his or her mind and body
Many different religions and cultures believed in this and often sought some sort exorcism to cure the
possession of the person, which usually involved painful, extreme measures.
Trepanning:The making of a surgical hole in the skull in a living person using an instrument