Mental Illness

The Shared Boundaries of Normal and Abnormal Behavior

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"The Shared Boundaries of Normal and Abnormal Behavior"
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The realm between normal and abnormal behavior is a fine balance determined by a person's mental, physical and cultural being. If this is the case normal behavior can be defined by a person who fully functions within their society. Therefore a person who follows the rules and maintains a balance of existence may be considered normal. This creates a false perception of abnormal being limited to noncompliant behavior towards the social demands of ones environment. When in actuality abnormal behavior is an emotional state which causes one to act inappropriately.
It can be difficult to determine if a person is overreacting to a situation or if there is justifiable cause for concern about their emotional state. To establish if a person is suffering from abnormal behavior due to a poor mental state or psychological disorder one should consider the criteria used in determining abnormalities. This can be done by answering these simple questions:

1. Is the individual really displaying unusual behavior?
2. Does the behavior go against societal norms?
3. Is there evidence their realty perception is faulty?
4. Does this person appear to be in considerable personal distress?
5. Is the person's behavior maladaptive or self defeating?
6. Does the person's behavior appear to be dangerous?

As you can tell from the above list determining if a person is displaying abnormal behavior may not be such an easy task. Before passing a professional judgment on another person's mental state one should know more than just the observed unacceptable social act committed.

It is possible ones perception of the way another person acts is distorted due to different cultural backgrounds. Take for instance the Sannyasin of India who leads a life seeking enlightenment (Moksha). The Sannyasin gives up all life belongings and travels the countryside naked as he renounces himself from all sins. This naked man is accepted and cared for by the communities he visits. If someone was to runaround naked in New York City renouncing their sins most people would view this as an abnormal act. If this naked person was a Sannyasin would he consider himself as abnormal? Would people from the same cultural background consider his mental state as poor? This shows how important it is to be sure of all the facts when making a decision about a person's mental state. If there is a key missing piece of information it may lead to a misinformed diagnose.

It is also important to understand normal people sometimes display symptoms of abnormal behavior. A person may be nervous before a test and become jittery. This does not mean the person is suffering from a mental disorder. However, if this same person is nervous and decides not to avoid the test then this could be a sign of an abnormal behavioral problem. Sometimes the signs for both normal and abnormal behaviors are defined by a very thin line. This makes it difficult to diagnose if there is a faltering mental state attributing to the improper social act performed. When diagnosing a mental disorder it is important to look at the whole person and all the facts.

More about this author: Bayla Maya

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