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CH1 Textbook Notes

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University of Toronto St. George

CHAPTER 1 LOOKING AT ABNORMALITY - the study of abnormal psychology is the study of people who suffer mental, emotional, and often physical pain as a result of some form of psychological or mental disorder, often referred to as psychopathology Defining Abnormality - context, or circumstances surrounding a behaviour, influences whether a behaviour is viewed as abnormal Cultural Relativism - there are no universal standards or rules for labelling a behaviour as abnormal - behaviours can only be abnormal relative to cultural norms; there are different definitions of abnormality across cultures - e.g. bereavement practices - in Western countries, norm is to break emotional bonds with dead loves ones, people who havent adequately broken those bonds may be labelled as abnormal - in Japan, maintaining emotional bonds with deceased loves ones is normal - in Egypt, the bereaved are encouraged to dwell profusely on their grief - opponents to cultural relativism argue that dangers arise when societal norms are allowed to dictate what is normal and abnormal - throughout history, societies have labelled individuals and groups abnormal in order to justify controlling or silencing them - e.g. when slave trade was active in the US, slaves who tried to escape could be diagnosed with drapetomania, a sickness that caused them to desire freedom - gender role expectations heavily influence the labelling of behaviour - e.g. aggression in men and chronic anxiety or sadness in women are often dismissed as normal because they dont violate gender roles Unusualness - behaviour that are unusual or rare are considered abnormal, whereas behaviours that are typical or usual, are considered normal - problem: someone must decide how rare a behaviour must be to call it abnormal - choosing a cut-off is as subjective as relying on personal opinions as to what is abnormal and normal - many rare behaviours are positive for the individual and for society, and most people would object to labelling such behaviour as abnormal - e.g. a piano virtuoso we would label gifted www.notesolution.com
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