What is Abnormal? How do we classify something as abnormal? Why has this term been introduced? Such questions are essential when understanding the world of psychology and mental health as they are crucial aspects of identifying and classification of different people in order to better help them. The first question, what is abnormal? According to the Oxford dictionary, it is defined as ‘deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying’. It is when someone or something does not fit into the social norms that are assigned to it. In psychology however, abnormal is defined as unusual patterns of behavior, emotion and thought which may or may not be understood as precipitating a mental disorder. Abnormal Psychology is a branch that is concerned with various disorders that cause a hindrance in the lives of people. Many people have the misconception of disorders such as people with disorders are ‘crazy’ or ‘dangerous’ and many more negative terms which are offensive and untrue. People with disorders are discriminated against and in many countries, they are seen as ‘weak’ or ‘damaged’; psychologists are also discriminated against by being called ‘doctors for the crazy’ and is seen as a lousy and unacceptable job. We need to understand that the word abnormal is not a synonym for good or bad but a word used to describe someone who may or may not require help. There are various examples of disorders that fall under abnormal psychology by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that was published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) which consist of - anxiety disorders, mood disorders, developmental disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse disorders and many more. However, there are multiple ways to help people with such disorders which are chosen and practiced by different psychologists which include - psychoanalytic approach, behavioral approach, medical approach and cognitive approach to name a few.
It is imperative to understand that abnormal psychology may focus on atypical behaviour but it does not drive people to fit into the thin strand of ‘normal’. It is used to identify and help people who are unable to live their daily lives without struggle or distress and allow psychologists and researchers to find new ways to assist people in order to lead healthier and more comfortable lives.