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Normal And Abnormal Behavior

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According to Nevid (2011) the concept of normal and abnormal behaviour continues to be a subject of debate within mental health field and in the society. They can change from time to time, and this show how controversial the topic of normal and abnormal behaviour is. The purpose of this assignment is to give the explanation of normal and abnormal behaviour and also show their differences. The assignment will also provide an overview of historical developments in abnormal behaviour. The author the example to prove role and implications of culture in determining and differentiating between normal behaviour and abnormal behaviour. The assignment will close by discussing the mental health in South Africa and access to mental health services.

According to Weiten (2014) the antonym normal and abnormal behaviour show that people can be divided into two groups which are the people who are normal and those who are not. The author further state that it is often difficult to differentiate between normality and abnormality. However people behave in different ways, they display maladaptive behaviour, whereby everyone come across personal distress. In result people are judged and critised to have psychological disorders if they have extreme maladaptive behaviour or stressing a lot.

Normal Behaviour

According to Weiten (2014) what join as normal differs somewhat from one culture to another. However if an individual violate the standards and expectations within the community they may be labelled as mentally ill. In my opinion I think normal behaviour is a behaviour that is normal for a certain person not a certain group of people because the person can know and feel that whatever they do is normal to them regardless of what the society say about it.

Abnormal behaviour

According Nevid (2011) society is a collective of people who are defined by the language that is spoken, religious practices and ethnic diversity. However the societies is fluid and constantly changing. The author further state that what was the norm for a society one hundred years ago may not be the norm of the same society today. I think in most communities or cultures it depends on how an individual behaves within a group, it will be determined by the rules and norms governed in a certain community or society.

The author further state that when an individual lives within a group, the definition of normal behaviour is usually classified by a consensus of what is considered to be normal for that certain group. However certain groups of people can push the boundaries but even this has limitations.

According to Novello (1999) abnormal behaviour is defined as the psychological disoders that include many elememts, whhich include the behaviour that deviates from nornal and norms that violates cultural values and unable to adjust to normal life.

In my opinion I think abnormal behaviour is dysfunctional state of mind where a person cannot function well in a day-to-day to life. However the society also play a role as what is normal and abnormal. For example in some cultures it is normal for a person eat a dog whereas in some cultures is a taboo to eat a dog. If they find a person eating a dog within their culture it will be an abnormal behaviour.

Difference between Normal and Abnormal behaviour

Weiten (2014) argue that there is no sharp boundary between normal and abnormal behaviour. The author mentioned that it depends on the extent to which one behaves, how much stress they have and their personality.

According Porther (2014) abnormal behaviour lacks effectiveness, is unproductive to goal achievement and problem solving and also make matters worse if an individual tries to solve a problem. According to Pienaar (2013) it is broadly accepted rules of the individual’s culture of origin. However when the behaviour is unusual, the observed behaviour is labelled as to be disturbing to others if it has been seen and it will be reflected violation of cultural norms.

In my opinion I think sometimes the behaviour is resistant to change or manage it. However the behaviour may results in unfortunate effects in multiple areas of life.

Overview of Historical Developments in Understanding Abnormal Behaviour

Supernatural Model

According to Nevid (2011) abnormal behaviour has been shaped to some point by the prevailing world view of the time. However in the past hundreds years beliefs in the supernatural forces, demons and evil spirits, where abnormal behaviour is taken as sign of possession.

The Pre-scientific Era

According to Lenau (2017) abnormal behaviour was seen as a victory for evil spirits, where the cure was to force the demons from a victim’s body. This view might have existed in the Stone Age as skulls from that period, which were found in Europe and South America, show evidence of an operation known as trepidation. In this operation, a stone instrument was used to cut away a circular section of the skull. According to Barlow (2015) the reason for removing pieces of the skull was to release the evil spirits that were apparently causing the problem. However, trepidation may have been used to remove bone splinters or blood clots caused by stone weapons during tribal warfare.

The Demonological Model

Barlow (2017) Argue that Aetiologists found human skeleton from the Stone Age with egg-sized cavities in the skull. The author further argue that the interpretations of the holes is prehistoric ancestors believed that it was caused by inhabitation of evil spirits. According to Nevid (2011) the notion of supernatural forces of abnormal behaviour was well-known in the western society until the Age of Enlightenment. Moreover the ancients explained nature in terms of the actions of the gods.

According to Barlow (2017) people turned to magic and sorcery to solve problems, however during that time the bizarre behaviour of people cursed and was seen as the work of the of the devil and witches. The author further state that the judgement that sorcery and wishes are the causes of madness and other evil that still continue in the fifteenth century, and evil is still to be blamed as the unexplainable behaviour.


According to Barlow (2015) the treatment for abnormality in religious societies was more related to exorcisms. The idea was to coax evil spirits to leave the person or to make the person’s body uncomfortable for the spirit to force them to leave. The author further state that the priest would recite prayers, plead with the evil spirits, insult the spirits, make loud noises, or have the person drink bitter poisons. If however the exorcisms failed, the priest would perform a more extreme form of exorcism involving

The Biological Model

According to Barlow (2017) Physical causes of mental disorders have been need since early in history because it is important because many play a big role in the biological tradition. However the Greek physician Hypocrites is the father of the Western medicine. He is correlated with a body of work called Hippocratic Corpus. The author further state that Hippocrates believed that Psychological disorder could be treated like any other disease.

The Nineteenth Century

According to Barlow (2017) the biological tradition went on with the alternate increases and decrease during the centuries after Hippocrates and Galen. They discovers the nature and cause of syphilis and strong support from well supported from the well-respected American Psychiatrist.


According Austin (2014) syphilis is a behavioral cognitive symptoms that is sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a bacterial microorganism entering the brain. The author further state that it includes delusions where a person believes that everyone is plotting against them or he is God.

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Barlow (2017) argue that the symptoms are similar to psychoses they are both labeled as deterioration, and becoming paralyzed.

The Psychological Tradition

According to Nevid (2011) in the middle centuries Plato thought that there were social and cultural influences in an individual’s life. He based his thoughts on the enviroment that the child grow in.Accrding to Weiten (2014) development in psychology has been the emergence of evolotionery psychology and as an influencial theoretical perspective. However the basic premise of evolutionery psychology is that the natural behaviour favours the behaviour that enhance organism reproductrive success that is passed from one geneation to the other.

Implications of Culture in Determining and Differentiating

According to Porther (2014) within a society we have norms; unwritten guidelines, rules, and standards which make our interactions with others more orderly and predictable. We also have roles and position in society regulated by norms about how that person should act. If we violate these norms and roles we can be labelled as “crazy” in the community. However the norms and roles are given by the majority in society and most of us tend to obey and conform to them most of the time to fit in.

Crouch (2014) state that there are possible reasons for extreme behaviour whereby the early signs of the illness are not regnised, poor treatment or traditonal intervention which are tried first before they go to Western therapy. The authour also mentioned that the ordinary people have little knowledge in the Western medicine. However they however go to an expert of herbal medicine interpreting the spirit of the ancencestors or will of the gods.

According to Allwood (2016) psychopathology has also been conceived as behavior that deviates from social or cultural norms. This conception is simply a variation of the conception of psychopathology as abnormality, only in the case that judgments about deviations from normality are made informally by people. The author further express that doing things that most other people do not do and that are conflicting with socially accepted and culturally allow the ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving are recognized as disrespectful to culture.

Culture and Tradition

Barlow, (2017) argue that the diversity of human culture affect the maner in which normal and abnormal behaviour appears. The authour further state that the diverse sociaty encounter similar symptotms that are traditional caused by agencies, spiririts and ancestors. However in South Africa there are conditions such as “amafufunyana” and “ukuthwasa” which are both traditional.

According to Barlow (2015) “amafufunyane” is more closely to mental health and is belived to relate to ancenstral anger with poisoning, bewitched and tokoloshe. The author explain “ukuthwasa” as the calling from the ancesntors to bedcome a traditonal healer,cfor example the people who have calling they experience syptoms that are similar to schizophrenia. The person who has the calling have dellusions and halluscinations. Most of them start by constant dreams of scary things, start by seeing their grandparents who died long time ago, dressed in sangoma cloths.

They feel victimised by spiritual attacks and witches.Their day to day functioning start to change. They start to see things that other people do not see and hear voices that talk to them in their heads. However in the traditional setting and culture such behaviours are normal signs to show that an individual has a calling from his ancestors. Nevertheless in the western setting such symptoms can be seeing as schizophrenia. It depends weather the in a certain culture they believe in such rituals or not.

In some cultures when a person is showing such behaviour that is linked or known as abnormal behaviour was suspected of witchcraft. It is probably that anyone with any type of mental illness would certainly have been condemned as being a witch. Individuals behaving outside of traditional norms were seen by the Church as being undesirable or uncooperative and were tortured in order to obtain confessions, with thousands of individuals being burned alive and mutilated in the name of the Church

According to Nicholas (2010) the cultural modes of expressions are understood by the members of the same culture or language group. The author further argued that the traditional healers felt that were not recognised by medical practitioners. Among the Xhosa culture there are local idioms of distress. However depending on the cultural influences in operation, depression is often reported either as a psychological representation, such as guilt, or it may be represented as a somatic complaint, such as a headache

Mental Health in South Africa and Access to Mental Health Services

According to Pienaar (2013) mental health care in South Africa is sorrounded by family and the broader community. This include the holistic-therapeutic care whereby the health support team of mental health care user may consult both the indigenous hearlers and Western health practioners.

According to Dau (2017) it is very concerning that over 100 mental health patients died as a result of the neglect of certain individuals in the health department. However this has been a big alert for South Africans and for the government. The author further state that in this alert it point out the fact that our country’s mental health services and resources are not enough in and they are very limited resources available to those who are suffering from mental health problems.

According to Crouch (2014) there are more people with mental illness or disability in the community that there are in the institution. Therefore there are more people with mental illness who are treated as outpatient departments in South Africa. The author further state that there is big need to prevent mental illness in our country and this may be best dealt with if it is started in the community.

Dau (2017) it also revealed that there is a lack of awareness around mental health in South Africa. There is a stigma that exists around mental health problems or people suffering from mental health problems. This shows how far we still need to go as a country in terms of understanding mental health and the importance of preserving one’s mental health. The author further state that there are many people and organisations that opened social media pages that serve to bring awareness about mental health to people, some of which also provide a space where people can share their experience with mental health.

Dau (2017) show that in result there are some of the posts on these pages that reveal that many people actually suffer from a variety of mental health problems, some of whom have had to deal with them on their own because of the way mental health is viewed in their culture or communities.

Crouch (2014) Argue that the majority of people with mental health problems are mostly found in communities and most of them cannot afford to go to therapy, however they consult to traditional healers.

However in my opinion I think the stigma of being afraid to seek professional help must end, because many families in South Africa can actually see that there are mental illness labelled as depression which can cause and more. However they still afraid to seek professional help from counsellors.


In this assignment I discussed the difference between normal and abnormal behaviour I also provided an overview of historical developments in abnormal behaviour. Mentioned the mental health in South Africa how it affects us the society and the community. This assignment helped me to see the importance of knowing the mental state in South Africa and also help me to know the history of developmental behaviour


  1. Allwood, M. (2016). The Nature and Challenges of Indigenous Psychologies. United State ,UK: Cambridge University Press.
  2. A.Novello. (1999). Abnormal Psychology. Western Cape: THOSON Publishing.
  3. A.Pienaar. (2013). Mental Health Care in Africa. Johannesburg: Van Schaik.
  4. D. Barlow, V. D. (2017). Abnormal Psychology. CENGAGE Learning.
  5. Dau, P. (2017, November 10). Hope for the children who are affeced by trauma & abuse. jelly beans, pp. 2-9.
  6. H. Barlow, V. (2015). Abnormal Psychology. Stamford, CT: CENGAGE Learning.
  7. J. Nevid, S. R. (2011). Abnormal Psychology. Boston BA: PEARSON.
  8. Lenau, L. (2017, January 26). History of Abnormal Psychology. Ancient Views, pp. 1-7.
  9. Nicholas, L. (2009). Introduction to Psychology. Pretoria: Juta and Company Ltd Publishers.
  10. Nicholas, L. (2010). An Introduction to Psychology. Cape Town: UCT.
  11. Porther, D. (2014, October 12). Cultural Differences in Definitions of Abnormality. theravive, pp. 2-6.
  12. R. Crouch, V. A. (2014). Occupational Therapy in Psychatry and Mental Health. Wiley Blackwell.
  13. T-L. Austin, C. B. (2014). Abnormal Psychology. Cape Town: OXFORD .
  14. Weiten, W. (2014). Psychology Themes and Variatios. Las Vegas: Cengage Learning.

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