Human beings have a tendency to consider behaviour that differs from their own to be abnormal. A person’s background plays a major role in forming their perceptions about abnormality. What may be considered to be normal in another country or culture may be viewed as abnormal in another. Hence, the identification of abnormal behaviour is crucial as it forms the first step towards the treatment of the ailment. Every classified abnormal behaviour has certain symptoms that are noticeable. However, they can often be confused with slight disturbances in behaviour. The intensity of a symptom is vital in understanding whether behaviour can be considered a psychological ailment or not.
According to Comer, while scholars and academics defer on the exact definition of abnormal behaviour, certain facets, popularly known as the ‘Four Ds’, are common to all. The Four Ds are: a) Deviance, b) Distress, c) Dysfunction, and d) Danger . It should be noted that each of the Four Ds may not be present in every abnormal behaviour, especially ‘danger’. The three forms of abnormal behaviour that I have witnessed are: a) ADHD, b) Schizophrenia, and c) Schizoid Personality Disorder.
A friend of mine has a 7 year old brother whom she suspects of suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD. ADHD is not a common psychological disorder, as is often assumed given its growing incidence today. In fact, the diagnosis of ADHD requires a patient to be, what is known as, a statistical rarity, with a high degree of developmental deviance. While several children display the symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness, a child would need to exhibit these traits in extremity in order to qualify as being a statistical rarity. ADHD may affect as few as 1% to 3% of kids . My friends brother was simply hyperactive and his behavior improved once the family enrolled him for martial arts classes where he could channel his energy towards physical growth and discipline. ADHD is often a progression of Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD, however, culture has not been known to impact its incidence .
A member of my family has been suffering from Schizophrenia for over 25 years. The criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia in her case were: a) Hallucinations, b) Social/occupational dysfunction, c) Duration, and d) Exclusion of substance/general medical conditions . However, there are several other symptoms that may exist in a patient in varying degrees . In addition to schizophrenia, my relative also showed several symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder. Her symptoms included: a) Emotional coldness, b) almost always choosing solitary activities, c) lack of close friends and confidantes, d) indifference to praise and criticism of others, and e) little, if any, interest in social activities .
Once again, the intensity of the symptoms and the presence of at least 5 symptoms is necessary for diagnosis. While genetics and family history have an influence on the incidence of schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorder, these ailments are not impacted by culture. While the Four Ds criteria applies aptly to schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorder, it does not provide sufficient definition of limits for ADHD, which is why it is one of the most over diagnosed ailments today.
In conclusion, the effective definition and classification of abnormal behavior is pivotal for the diagnosis of some serious, possibly dangerous psychological disorders that have the potential to have a major negative impact on a person’s life if they remain undetected and untreated.
BehaveNet Clinical Capsule. (n.d.). DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR - Schizoid Personality Disorder. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from www.behavenet.com: http://www.behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/schizoidpd.htm
BehaveNet Clinical Capsule. (n.d.). DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR - Schizophrenia. Retrieved October 28, 2011, from www.behavenet.com: http://www.behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/schiz.htm
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