Psychopathology can be defined as any sort of abnormal behavior that correlated with a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, the term “abnormal” is relative and there is no universal definition that outlines exactly what is normal and abnormal. However, there are several fundamental factors that help indicate the abnormal behaviors that make up psychopathology. The criteria for abnormal behavior (psychopathology) includes:
Subjective distress: When an individual struggles with any form of psychological pain. For example, I struggle with intense fear and stress whenever I have to travel by airplane.
Maladaptiveness: When an individual engages in behaviors that hinder their well being. For example, an obsessive compulsive individual may be so impaired that they are unable to leave their home.
Social Discomfort: For example, you are sitting with your partner in a nearly empty movie theaters when an individual comes in and decides to sit directly next to you.
Statistical Deviancy: Just because something is common does not mean it is normal. For example, excessive alcohol consumption is very common within college culture, but this degree of substance abuse is still considered an abnormal behavior.
Violation of the standards of society: For example, a traditional Catholic individual goes to church every Sunday without a doubt but this would be an extremely abnormal outing for an individual that does not have a faith.
Dangerousness: Any individual that is dangerous to him, herself, or others. An example of dangerousness is any for of self harm.
Irrationality and unpredictability: For example, if a women walking down the street begins frantically screaming at you in a language that can not be deciphered.
Although these elements of abnormality listed above are helpful, one of the biggest challenges associated with psychopathology is that abnormality varies greatly across cultures. Different cultures have different beliefs, values, and attitudes about behaviors and actions. Because of this, it is very important to take into considering the cultural context of a behavior. For example, a individual from a foreign country could be incorrectly diagnosed with a mental disorder based on their actions and how they might not align with American standards and norms. When it comes to defining psychopathology, it is very important to consider the so called abnormal behavior cross culturally. For example, according to the NY times, a man in Atlanta Gorgia was arrested in 2006 for performing a female circumsison on his daughter. Although this is a social norm in this mans culture, it is illegal in the United States. By American standards not only is this action illegal but it is considered an extremely abnormal behavior by our standards. However, just because this mans actions do not align with America norms, it does not mean he suffers from psychopathology. Cultural differences can also causes clinicians to be unintentionally biased when testing someone from a culturally different group. It can be difficult to accurately diagnosed an indiivudals behaviors when they are from a foreign background, especially when the clinician does not have knowledge or experience to put it into context.