After reading this article you will learn about Freud’s view on normal and abnormal behaviour.
Freud’s view that nobody is cent per cent normal though held by some as an exaggeration, it should be accepted beyond doubt that abnormality is perhaps the major problem of a modern civilized society. It is, however, unfortunate that this problem has been very much neglected in India.
Psychologists should consider it to be their first and foremost duty to help the mentally ill person to lead as far as practicable a normal life in the society.
Those who help in solving serious personality problems and deal with people having problems of adjustment definitely contribute to the welfare of the humanity. Perhaps this would be the greatest and finest contribution of a psychologist to the mankind.
Therefore, Coleman (1981) views that the study of abnormal behaviour may be of great value in bettering individual adjustment and in reducing the great amount of misery arising out of mental illness and maladjustment in modern society.
In primitive times, abnormality was considered as a kind of mystical or spiritual occurrence. They thought that some people are enchanted by some evil spirits and thus the patients were treated in a very crude and unscientific process. Today it is neither considered terrible nor uncommon. Many persons suffering from mental diseases are amenable to treatment.
A scientific study of abnormal behaviour is essential for the following facts:
1. To know the nature and the cause of abnormality it leads us to understand the mechanism of abnormal mind, diagnose the disease and predict the progress of the disease. Hence abnormality no longer stands as a mystery or a curse.
2. A correct understanding of abnormality can check, prevents and cure the disease. Modern psychopathology is also of great importance for common man. In America every year about 1,50,000 or more new patients are admitted to mental hospitals.
These figures do not include the patients going to private clinics for counselling and treatment. Moreover, the innumerable mild cases which are never referred to a psychiatrist remain unrepresented.
In America as statistics shows, about 10 per cent of population suffers from severe types of mental diseases or insanity as it is popularly called. It has also been estimated that about 15 per cent of the undergraduate students of American Colleges need the services of the psychological counsellor.
Probably, at sometime or other it is expected that most of the students may need some sort of psychological counselling and advice because of the competitive situation of the college campus and academic life.
In India though the percentage may not be that high in comparison to their western counterparts usually 4 to 5 per cent seek regular guidance and counselling from an expert in the area.
In view of the above facts, abnormal psychology has been of tremendous importance for modern people. The implications and significance of abnormal psychology lies in studying the maladjusted and abnormal personality. It is also of value to the so called normal people of the society.
This supports Freud’s view that nobody is cent per cent normal and every-body needs some sort of guidance, counselling and advice to overcome anxiety, depression, worries and other major/minor mental illness arising out of the stresses, strains and competitiveness of modern society.
Modern psychopathology is also of great need and importance to medicine. In fact, it is predicted that 50 per cent of the medicines in future will be psychological medicines.
It is of tremendous importance to common man as over 10 per cent of the total population is expected to suffer from severe mental illness and tentatively-every one of the population is likely to suffer from at least mild mental illness or depression during his life time.
The common pattern of behaviour found among the general majority is said to be the behaviour of the normal. Normal people exhibit satisfactory work capacity and earn adequate income. They conform and adjust to their social surrounding.
They are capable of establishing, satisfying and acceptable relationship with other people and their emotional reactions are basically appropriate to different situations. Such people manage to control their emotions.
Their emotional experiences do not affect their personality adjustment though they experience occasional frustrations and conflict. These people who adjust well with themselves, their surroundings and their associates constitute the normal group. The normal group covers the great majority of people.
According to Coleman (1981) normal behaviour will represent the optimal development and functioning of the individual consistent with the long term well being and progress of the group. Thus, people having average amount of intelligence, personality stability, social adaptability are considered as normal.
The concept of abnormality is defined as the simple exaggeration or perverted development of the normal psychological behaviour. In other words, it deals with the usual behaviour of man. The unusual or maladapted behaviour of many persons which do not fit into our common forms of behaviour is known as abnormal behaviour.
Abnormality refers to maladjustment to one’s society and culture which surrounds him. It is the deviation from the normal in an un-favourable and pathological way.
According to Brown (1940) abnormal psychological phenomena are simple exaggerations (over development or under development) or disguised (i.e., perverted, developments) of the normal psychological phenomena.
It is expected, for instance, that a normal human being would react to a snake by immediately withdrawing from it. But if the person on the contrary, plays with the snake very happily, it is a sign of uncommon behaviour which may be considered as abnormal provided that past experience or training does not play a part here.
A person who has been by profession trained from the very childhood to deal with snakes will not be afraid of a snake and if he does not withdraw from a snake, will not be considered abnormal. Coleman (1981) holds that deviant behaviours are considered as maladaptive because they are not only harmful to the society, but to the individual.
Maladaptive behaviour impairs individual and group well being and it brings distress to the individual. It also leads to individual and group conflicts.
Page (1976) views that the abnormal group consists of individuals marked by limited intelligence, emotional instability, personality disorganization and character defects who in most part led wretched personal lives and were social misfits and liabilities. Thus, abnormality and normality can only be defined in terms of conformity to the will and welfare of the group and in the capacity for self management.
A close analysis of various types of abnormal behaviour indicates that abnormal behaviour circumscribes a wide range of maladaptive reactions like psychoneuroses, psychoses, delinquents, sexually deviants, and drug addicts etc.
Thus, same kind of biological, social and psychological maladjustment affects the functioning of the individual in a society. The abnormal deviants who constitute about 10 per cent of the general population are classified into four main categories; such as psychoneurotic, psychotic, menially defective and antisocial.
Current Classification of Normal and Abnormal Behaviour:
The present official classification method for psychological and mental disorders is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2nd Edition (Known as DSM II) published by the American Psychiatric Association (1968). DSM II is based mainly on symptoms as the central factors in determining diagnosis. Currently DSM III, as a revision of DSM II is being prepared by the American Psychiatric Association.
DSM III is described as a multi-axial classification system that provides classification on five distinct axis or dimensions.
DSM III also differs from DSM II in its primary use of the term ‘disorder’ to describe patterns of abnormality as opposed to terms like reaction, illness and disease. The term ‘disorder’ typically reflects the continuing acceptance of the disease model of mental disturbance.
The pioneers of DSM III such as Spitzer, Sheehy, and Endicott, (1977) feel that the new classification system will have many advantages over DSM II.
According to them, “DSM III is the first national classification system in psychiatry to utilize operational criteria, explicit principles of classification, a multi axial approach to diagnosis; and extensive field testing prior to adoption… we believe that the principles that are guiding the development of DSM III will prove fruitful for both the scientific and clinical “development of psychiatry.”