Abnormality (behavior)

"Dysfunctional" redirects here. For other uses, see Dysfunctional (disambiguation).
"Abnormal" redirects here. For the albums, see Abnormal (Bumblefoot album) and Abnormal (Bacil & Rakby album).

Abnormality (or dysfunctional behavior), in the vivid sense of something deviating from the normal or differing from the typical (such as an aberration), is a subjectively defined behavioral characteristic, assigned to those with rare or dysfunctional conditions. Behavior is considered abnormal when it is atypical, out of the ordinary, causes some kind of impairment, or consists of undesirable behavior.[1] Who is normal or abnormal is a contentious issue in abnormal psychology.[2]

Several conventional criteria

There are five main criteria of abnormality. They are 1. statistical criterion 2. social criterion 3. personal discomfort 4. maladaptive behaviour 5. deviation from ideal

A common approach to defining abnormality is a Multi-Criteria approach, where all definitions of abnormality are used to determine whether an individuals behavior is abnormal. For example, if an individual is engaging in a particular behavior that is preventing them from 'functioning', breaks a social norm and is statistically infrequent, then psychologists would be prepared to define this individual's behavior as abnormal. A good example of an abnormal behavior assessed by a multi-criteria approach is depression: it is commonly seen as a deviation from ideal mental stability, it often stops the individual from 'functioning' a normal life, and, though it is a relatively common mental disorder, it is still statistically infrequent. Most people do not experience significant major depressive disorder in their lifetime 3.

See also

Look up abnormal in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Notes and references

1NIMH factsheet on frequency of mental disorders.
2Article on complicated grief.
3Article on results of the National Comorbidity Study


  1. "Abnormal". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  2. "Classification and Assessment of Abnormal Behavior" (PDF). csun.edu. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  3. "The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America". NIMH. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  4. David Rosenhan & Martin Seligman (1984) Abnormal Psychology
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