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By Author: Sherry Roberts
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Precise definitions of “abnormality” remain elusive in most fields. However, some of the elements useful in the definition include suffering, mal-adaptiveness, and deviancy, violation of socials, irrationality, and unpredictability. Personality characteristics express themselves in a number of ways. Not only are they complex, but also they can be approached at different levels and from different frames of reference. The classification of human behavior as normal or abnormal differs among different professionals. Medical/psychiatry focuses on personal inadequacy in attaining goals and in social presentation from a context of disease or disorders. Psychology concentrates on personal inadequacy in a developmental context and often de-emphasizes the idea of disease. Sociology considers abnormality or deviance as the inability to fulfill a significant role within the range of accepted behaviors as assessed by significant others in the community. This essay conceptualizes ways of normal and abnormal coping that include mental disorder, psychological development, deviance and social functioning. The essay focuses on Dan’s case study and aims at identifying the most helpful coping that can benefit Dan.

Case Overview
Spencer employed a number of interventions to help Dan achieve his goal of focusing on his education. Dan’s main goal was to achieve medical school admission, but obsessional thoughts about his inability to solve personal “slights” from family and university peers were derailing his objectives. The rejection from family and peers made him angry and sad because he believed they never understood the rationality of his admonitions and advice, and they had a wrong perception of an interpersonal issue. Spencer validated his interventions by believing Dan had unrealistic goals. His hope was that Dan would realize he had little influence over other people and different people have different ideas regarding what is best for them. Despite Spencer using various psychodynamic and cognitive interventions, the most successful interventions were behavioral interventions. He used relaxation techniques and selecting the most appropriate environment to maximize his studies.

Description of the coping strategies
Social workers consider how different disciplines define normal to avoid challenges related to defining normal behavior or misidentifying an individual. From the medical or psychiatric perspective, a normal individual is one who is in harmony with self and the environment. According to this definition, normality is characterized by conformity with the community and culture. The American Psychiatric Association distinguish normality and abnormality by defining abnormality as a significant behavioral or psychological syndrome that occur a in person that is associated with present distress or disability, or significantly increase risk of suffering from pain, injury, disability or death. The medical perspective focuses on the underlying disturbances with an individual. Practitioners use these disturbances to diagnose an individual based on a cluster of symptoms. Medical practitioners interventions and treatments focus on changing the individual that are aimed at changing the “abnormal” person’s internal experiences and changes. Most of the interventions are biological and somatic interventions. One of the major disadvantages of this model is the perception that undesired behaviors or “abnormal” behaviors are a product of basic pathology or psychological disease. This perception may lead to the client feeling more helpless or worse. Treatment based on the medical approach require procedures such as psychoanalysis that are aimed at the underlying causes and not the behavioral symptom. The client can gain insight into the underlying causes. From this perspective, Dan’s situation may be seen as caused by some biological factors and the intervention would focus on addressing these factors. The major causes of Dan’s situation include genetics and environmental influences on his physical functioning. According to the medical perspective, Dan may have inherited the predisposition to developing the behavioral disturbances. However, the medical definition of abnormal departs from the norm and harms the affected person. The definition does not allow for the various criteria and perspectives concerning the behaviors as well as implying that there are no specific designation from normal to abnormal but is based on harm. As such, the medical approach requires us to recognize pattern behavior that is lacking in Dan’s case. There are no underlying physical or biological issues to describe Dan’s behavior.
Unlike the medical approach that emphasizes biological and somatic interventions, psychological perspectives emphasize cognitive, behavioral and reflective interventions. The psychodynamic perspective views abnormality as a result of conflicts between unconscious urges and conscious desires (Ashford & Craig, 2011). The psychological perspective is rooted in the Sigmund Freud psychodynamic theory that postulates that an individual goes through a sequence of life stages. Each life stage build on the previous one and unsuccessful transition leads to abnormal behaviors. The abnormal behaviors lead to a deviant pattern of coping with threats and challenges. When used in the context of abnormal behaviors, the term psychodynamic refers to any approach the emphasizes the dynamics of behaviors, i.e. what drives one to behave in a particular way. Psychodynamic focuses on past experiences notably early child-parent relationship, because the approach assumes the majority of the psychological conflicts are rooted in these relationships. According to the psychodynamic theory, conflicts between the Id, ego, and superego create anxiety and ego always try to protect itself through various defense mechanisms. If the ego is not developed properly during childhood, it is repressed. These repressed feelings later cause deviant behaviors in adulthood. Unconscious motivations cause mental anxieties and mental disorders. When using the psychological perspective, it is hard to identify whether there are any important childhood incidences that contribute to Dan’s condition. According to the behavioral perspective, behaviors and actions are determined largely by our life experiences rather than by the underlying pathology or unconscious forces. The approach perceives abnormality as the development of behavior patterns, established through classical and operant conditioning or through social learning, which are considered maladaptive for an individual. Most learned behaviors are adaptive, helping an individual lead a happy and productive life, but maladaptive behaviors can be acquired in a similar way.
Deviance is closely realted to using a statistical average. Statistical criteria equate normality with those that frequently occur in the society. As such, abnormality is defined in terms of behaviors that occur least frequently. The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology defines the deviance as the behaviors and thoughts patterns that are significantly different from what constitutes the norm in a population. These disparities in cognition, behavior, and performance can be consistent and fixed or varying over time and situation. Today, the deviance approach goes beyond the statistical differences and distinguishes the concept of nonconformity and pro-social undesirability of the abnormal behaviors or thoughts. According to the deviance approach, individuals physiological, psychologically, socially or cultural different are at a greater risk for engaging in maladaptive or undesirable behaviors. As such, societal norms, affect the definition of normality.

Social functioning holds that abnormality should be defined within the view of conformity. Society members follow norms and widely accepted standards of behaviors. As such conformity to these standards defines what is normal whereas deviation from the standards defines abnormal behaviors. The social definition of abnormality recognizes that behaviors outside the social parameters are dangerous, disruptive and are likely to be singled out as deviant.
Dan behaviors can be evaluated through the social functioning approach. Practitioners need a multidimensional framework for integrating the knowledge and theories from biological, psychological and social perspectives on human development. A multidimensional approach includes the assumption that human behaviors can be assessed in three dimensions that include biophysical, psychological and social. The dimensions form a system of biopsychosocial functioning. Social functioning is the ability of an individual to interact with others. Among young adults, social functioning refers to the performance of and satisfaction with social expectations and responsibilities through selective social activities and relationships that are essential in one’s life. Social functioning takes a person-in-environment perspective that suggests that common human beings must be met to function effectively in the society. The social functioning framework is similar to social competence models. In the social competence model, the focus is on helping individuals achieve their potential and understanding the normal stresses and demands that affect them in their interaction with the environment. In addition, how people respond to these tasks can be better understood by studying their coping abilities. Normal and abnormal behaviors need to be evaluated within their context. All behaviors must be evaluated in terms of its time frame, social norms and rules that govern that specific behavior. Dan holds that be around him rejects him, and he seems to have issues with his social skills. Some of the common social skills that relate to social functioning include being annoying, argumentative, explosive, inflexible, controlling and easily frustrated. According to the cognitive, social learning analysis, effective social learning depends on the knowledge of specific social behaviors and their likely functions in interpersonal situations. It also entails the ability to convert social knowledge into skillful social behaviors in an interactive context and the ability to accurately self-evaluate skill performance and performance-related outcomes (Bosc, 2000). Deficits such as a lack of mastery or coordination of these skill areas place Dan at risk of interpersonal conflict. Social knowledge is important in creating and maintaining interactions with peers. Within the peer culture, norms develop concerning the appropriateness of behaviors for specific social situations. Dan may experience interpersonal difficulties because he acts on the basis of skill concepts that are relative to age mates, inaccurate or deficient in one or more areas of social knowledge. Although Dan may be having the right skill knowledge, he may encounter interpersonal difficulties due to the inability to produce and skillfully perform the corresponding social behaviors. The ability to self-evaluate skill outcomes in interpersonal conflicts is essential (Carpenter & Dang, 2010). In addition to having the skill knowledge and performance, effective social function relies on Dan’s ability to monitor his skill performance and its effect on others. Effective monitoring requires the ability to observe one’s performance and the propensity to scan the social environment for evidence of others’ reaction. Social skills include social perceptions, cognitive skills, and behavioral skills. Effective social behaviors require an individual to perceive relevant situational parameters, formulate goals and select strategies to achieving those goals and enacting the plans. Social dysfunction result, when an individual does not know how to respond accurately, does not use skills in his or her repertoire when necessary and when appropriate behavior is undermined by a socially inappropriate behavior.
In conclusion, there is no single framework that is exhaustive in terms of addressing a particular case. Professionals need to adopt a multidimensional approach that considers all the variables and circumstances. Integrating different models or perspectives allows the practitioners to approach the problem from different angles and increases the chances of succeeding.
Ashford J & Craig L (2011). Human behaviors in the social environment: A multidimensional perspective. Cengage Learning.
BOSC M (2000). Assessment of social functioning in depression. Comprehensive Psychiatry.
Carpenter C & Dang J (2010). Social functioning difficulties in ADHD: Association with PDD risk. Clinical Child Psychology Psychiatry.
Durand V & Barlow D (2010). Essentials of abnormal psychology. Cengage Learning.
Lecroy C & Beker J (2008). Social skills training for children and youth

Carolyn Morgan is the author of this paper. A senior editor at Melda Research in nursing research paper writing service. if you need a similar paper you can place your order for a custom research paper from custom nursing writing service.

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