Defining Psychopathology




Defining Psychopathology



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Defining Psychopathology

The society handles determining what normal behavior is and what people perceive as abnormal. According to the scientists, an abnormality is a behavior outside the parameters of what the majority accepts as normal (Maisel, 2013).

Criteria Applied

The determination of whether a customer has a mental disorder can be done by taking an abnormality evaluation in its context. Any behavior ought to be evaluated in respect to its social rules, the norm that govern behavior, and time frame. Therefore, the criteria that will be used to determine whether an individual portrays abnormal behavior include determinants such as the time frame, social rules and norms that govern behavior. In respect to the time, every person has common expectations of how others should behave in public. For example, people’s expectation at a subway is that everyone should be orderly, patient well dressed, and clean. Anyone who possesses behavior outside of those system norms raises suspicion. In contrast, people in a hippie concert are expected to dress in messy or dirty clothes at that particular time; however, a person that is official dressed in the same concert raises behavioral concerns.

Different cultures or social groups

As suggested by Kendler, Munoz & Murphy (2010), all cultures have established formal and informal rules that govern behaviour. Such rules contain well-defined parameters, systematic moral standards, and culturally acceptable behaviour. In most cultures, breaking the rules of law is considered as abnormal behaviour and can lead to punishment such as penalties or incarceration. If an individual dyes their hair bright lime, the society will term such conduct as abnormal. Nonetheless, the society accepts bright hair colors as a fashionable trend among its youth population, but do not affirm to the same kind of behaviour among its elderly. Therefore, it is socially accepted when a teenager tints their hair orange, but if a 65-year-old man dyes orange, society will term his behavior as abnormal. Certainly, age is also a factor that determines abnormal behaviour. Nevertheless, due to cultural diversity in any given society, some specific cultural behaviour can be considered abnormal when interpreted from a different perspective (Marianne &, Buckwalter, 2005). Through this way, it is hard to have a universal definition of abnormal behaviour.

In a case study of a 65-year-old White, the man who prefers dying his hair orange might be considered abnormal depending on the time, culture, or social group. The 19th Century was the beginning of different fashion styles in dressing as well as in hair styles. Beau Brummel was a fashion figure during his time. Briefly, as stated by Harvey (2015), Brummel was born in England in 1878 and died at the age of sixty-one. During his time, this personality introduced many behaviors such as dying his hair red-orange and bathing in milk. In 1900, it was normal for men of nobility to follow his example and most changed their hair color to red-orange (Harvey, 2015). However, in this century, it is considered abnormal for a man of 65 years to change his hair color to orange. In other words, different time frames determine abnormal behaviour differently.

Different time periods

Through the centuries, hair color evolved in different cultures. In specific social groups, red hair was seen as a mark of class and high rank. As proposed by Harvey (2015) during the 1st Century BC, the Gauls dyed their hair bright red to signify power and wealth. Today, some African communities, such as the Maasai, both men and women dye their hair red in ceremonial times as a mark of elegance and beauty. Additionally, some Ethiopian elderly men go as far as dying their beards red-orange to gain respect among their community members. Such cultures accept artificial red hair as normal behaviour. Nonetheless, some cultures consider red hair as a sign of witchcraft mostly because it is associated with a genetic mutation (Harvey, 2015). Since witchcraft practices are seen as abnormal behavior, equally red hair is abnormal. Red hair is perceived differently in different social groups today. In America, redheads have existed for centuries, and the society accepts that since it is biological. However, a blonde head man turning to red-orange hair at the age of 65 can raise questions. It is acceptable for women in almost all society to tint their hair in most colors, but the society limits this privilege in the male gender. On the other hand, rock stars and teenagers are dying their hairs to almost all color and society seems to accept that behaviour as normal. Therefore, if the 65-year-old man is a rock star or a teenager the society would not term his behaviour abnormal because these social groups are allowed to experiment with colors. Nonetheless, due to his gender, social group, and availability of diverse cultures, his behaviour can be misinterpreted as abnormal.

Own values and personal beliefs

The individual values and personal beliefs can influence one's view of a client's behaviours, thoughts, or emotions as being normal or abnormal. On a personal perceptive, hair tinting is a personal preference that should not be limited regardless of age, gender, or culture. Simply because a 65-year-old man suddenly prefers his hair red does not necessarily make his behaviour abnormal. The above case is not a severe one that can firmly prove that the man's behaviour is abnormal. Thus, the severity of behaviour influences individual perspective of normal and abnormal behaviour. If the same man decided to walk only in his t-shirt without any pants, probably the personal perceptive would change because this case is more severe than the one discussed.



Harvey, J.C. (2015). Red: A History of the Redhead. London: Hachette Books Publishers

Kendler, S., Munoz, R. & Murphy, G. (2010). The development of the Feighner Criteria: A historic perspective. American Journal of Psychiatry, February 1, 167(2): 134–42.

Maisel, E. (2013). The New Definition of a Mental Disorder. Rethinking Mental Health Journal: Psychology today vol. 1 no. 6

Marianne, S., Buckwalter, K. (2005). Behaviour Associated with Dementia. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 105, no. 7, p. 40-52