A normal person exhibits the constituents of a normal personality. Anyone with an appropriate perception of reality, self-esteem and acceptance, the ability to exercise voluntary control over their own behaviour, productive and ability to form affectionate relationship is considered normal. On the other hand, a person is termed abnormal when he or she exhibits aspects of abnormal personality.
Some of the factors that may lead to an individual being pronounced abnormal include deviation from statistical and cultural norms, personal distress and maladaptive behaviour.
Some people may be, however, considered abnormal in relation to their cultural behaviour compared to that of the others. Differences in individuals’ culture and situations form significant factors in the classification of abnormal behaviours (Kring & Johnson 2010, 97).
In order to answer this question (is it normal to be abnormal?), we are to have a clear understanding of abnormal psychology. Abnormal from the surface meaning is something that falls outside the norm. The norm of reference belongs to a particular group, age or gender. Most human behaviours follow the normal curve. Individual who falls far from the apex of this normal curve may be considered abnormal.
From many studies, an apposition of normal and abnormal is not the same as that of good and bad. Abnormal psychology asserts that instead of focusing on the differences between what is normal and what is abnormal, the focus should be on the distress level or disruption that might be caused by a troubling behaviour.
If behaviour causes problems in someone’s life or disrupts the comfort of other people, then such a behaviour might be termed abnormal and require some kind of mental health intervention (Carr 1999, 105).
Abnormal psychology may be described in different perspectives. There is the behavioural perspective which focuses on the behaviour exhibited by people. In a behavioural therapy, the focus is put on the positive and maladaptive behaviours. This approach of abnormal psychology only emphasizes the behaviour itself and leaves out the underlying factors.
The medical approach to abnormal psychology puts focus on the biological causes of the mental illness. This perspective is based on the underlying causes of mental disorders that may include related physical disorders, genetic inheritance, chemical imbalances and infections.
The medical therapeutics is naturally pharmaceutical even though they are usually used in collaboration with other types of psychotherapy. Lastly, the cognitive approach of the abnormal psychology focuses on the internal perceptions, thoughts and reasoning that may contribute to psychological disorders.
The cognitive treatments allied to these disorders focus typically on helping people in changing their reactions or thoughts. Cognitive therapy may be, however, used in collaboration with the behavioural methods (Boyne 2009, 87).
Just as indicated from various studies, an individual who deviates from the norm is termed abnormal. But what norm do these studies refer to? When an individual appears in a different society with the norms different from those he/she has been used to, he/she may exhibit abnormality to the local people.
To them, the person is abnormal in terms of the behaviours he or she exhibits, but to the subject, he or she is normal as far as their norm is concerned. Therefore, to this extent, it is normal to be abnormal.
However, universal considerations of abnormal individuals have been made by scholars. One definition of abnormality is the statistical deviation. This is witnessed in the curve of human characteristics.
Those people who stray much from the average of the curve become universally abnormal. The statistical deviation, however, has its challenges since it does not consider most of the valuable derivations such as being genius (Jones 2005, 134).
Personal distress as mentioned in paragraph one is a constituent of abnormality. Generally, if an individual is content with their life, then they do not concern to the field of mental health. However, if their thought and behaviours result in discomfort either to them or to other people, then they are considered abnormal. Maladaptive behaviour may be, however, defined in relation to the society or to one’s self.
This provides much flexibility and room for a conforming behaviour to the norms of the society as well as behaviour that id deviant provided it does not result in self damage. Abnormal is, therefore, a relative term and depends upon people’s life and situations around them.
Some of the categories of behaviour that may suggest the availability of psychological disorders which are maladaptive in one way or another; they strain the well-being of people and include impaired functioning, long discomfort period, disruptive and bizarre behaviours (Johnson 2005, 210).
In every person’s experience, there is some sort of psychological discomfort during some period of his/her life. This may be a result of anything like worrying about a lost loved one.
The distress may be related to real events and supposed to pass away as time passes by. However, if such distress persists for extended period and does not relate to the events that surround the person in question, then the person is considered abnormal and may possibly have a psychological disorder.
In impaired functioning, the distinction between a prolonged inefficiency and passing period of inefficiency may sound unexplainable. In most life experiences, there exist many things that different people may do while the others find them very strange. For instance, the various piercings that a younger generation chooses today, their lifestyle and dressing may seem strange and bizarre to the elderly.
However, their motivations are not difficult to understand, and this protects them from being termed clinically abnormal. Nevertheless, bizarre behaviour with no rational basis indicates that the individual may be confused. This may bring delusions and hallucinations caused by frequent psychoses.
Disruptive behaviour may mean impulsive and is apparently an uncontrollable one that disrupts person’s life and that of the others or even deprives other people of their human rights. This kind of behaviour forms a characteristic of a psychological disorder that is severe (Neale 2003, 67).
In summary, the mentioned kinds of behaviours are maladaptive because of their nature of directly affecting the well-being of the individual or the people around them. They may also block the fulfilment and growth of the person’s potential. It is, therefore, evident from the arguments above that being abnormal is a normal thing.
This is because abnormal is defined by the norms, and the norms belong to specific people and are not particularly universal. If a person behaves in a way not normal to other people according to their norms, they may consider that abnormal. This is a common aspect of human being as they will always tend to behave according to their norms.
Whenever an individual exhibits the constituents of abnormal personality mentioned in the first paragraph, then that kind of individual may be universally abnormal. The same is applicable to the exhibition of the constituents of the normal personality (Martins 2008, 120).
Boyne, E 2009. Psychotherapy in Ireland, Routledge, London.
Carr, A 1999. The Handbook of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology, Routledge, London.
Johnson, S 2005. Abnormal Psychology, Springer, New York.
Jones, K 2005. Deviating from the norm, McGraw-Hill, Boston.
Kring, D. & Johnson 2010. Abnormal Psychology, Wiley and Sons, New Jersey.
Martins, R 2008. Abnormal Psychology, John Wiley & Sons, London.
Neale, J 2003. Clinical Psychology, Prentice Hall, London.
Ray, M 2002. The Abnormal Normal, Prentice Hall, London.