What Is Abnormal Behavior?
Talk To A Counselor About Abnormal Behavior
If you have a friend or family member who is exhibiting abnormal behavior and you are not certain about what to do, it may be helpful to speak with a licensed mental health professional.
Speaking to someone in person about a sensitive topic like abnormal behavior can be challenging, even if you’re not the one exhibiting it. If this is the case, you may feel safer talking about your concerns with an online therapist. Research shows that online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy for several mental health concerns.
In online counseling, you can speak with a therapist from the comfort of your own home via audio or video chat. With BetterHelp, you can also contact your therapist at any time, day or night, via in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.
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If you’re concerned about abnormal behavior, whether your own or that of someone else, you don’t have to face it alone. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed counselor who has experience identifying and addressing abnormal behavior in a nonjudgmental way. Take the first step to getting support and reach out to BetterHelp today.
What are examples of abnormal behavior?
It may be helpful to frame examples of abnormal behavior using the “Four Ds:” deviance, dysfunction, distress, and danger. Abnormal psychology uses the Four Ds to define what makes a behavior abnormal rather than simply unusual. Unusual behavior may seem strange or quirky but does not meet the criteria to be considered abnormal.
Deviant behavior violates fundamental social norms, like a person’s right to safety. Most criminal behavior is deviant. Dysfunctional behavior significantly impairs a person’s ability to function daily. An example might be hypersomnia - excessive sleep - associated with major depression. Depression prevents a person from leaving their bed and carrying out their day, reducing their function.
Distressful behaviors are related to dysfunctional behaviors; when a dysfunctional behavior becomes severe enough to cause a person distress, the behavior becomes distressful. For instance, if the person experiencing hypersomnia from the example above is unbothered by their circumstances, their actions would not be considered distressful. Finally, dangerous behavior is any action that endangers someone or those around them. Any violent, aggressive behavior is likely an example of a dangerous behavior.
What are the causes of abnormal behavior?
Abnormal behavior is often related to psychological and mental disorders, although it is often difficult to adequately define normal behavior and predict what behaviors are due to a particular mental illness. Even if a specific behavior can be related to psychological disorders, that doesn’t mean that the behavior is abnormal. The influence of the mental condition generally needs to rise to a certain severity before the behavior becomes a concern.
A behavior is considered abnormal when it opposes social norms, interferes with daily function, induces significant distress, or endangers oneself and others. Mental conditions can cause behavior that fits into any of those four categories. For example, the compulsive behaviors characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder can interfere with a person’s ability to complete daily tasks. Another example might be depression and anxiety disorders, which can cause severe distress and unhappiness.
How do you classify abnormal behavior?
The psychological sciences have historically struggled to define abnormal behavior, leading to an abnormal behavior definition that has shifted considerably over time. It is important to note that researchers and clinicians differentiate between unusual and abnormal behavior. Unusual behavior may seem strange to an observer, but its impact does not amount to a clinically significant disturbance. Abnormal - or maladaptive - behavior does reach that threshold, indicating that the person displaying the behavior is adversely affected by it.
The most up-to-date classification of abnormal behavior is likely the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM). The DSM is a diagnostic guide that mental health professionals use to evaluate whether certain behaviors are attributable to a mental health condition. Classification of abnormal behavior tends to center around a person’s psychopathology, or their unique presentation of an emotional or mental illness.
What is abnormal behavior and psychopathology?
Abnormal behavior is any behavior that has a significant adverse impact on a person’s life, usually by deviating from social norms, interfering with daily function, creating distress, or causing danger. Psychopathology is the scientific exploration of abnormal mental states. Abnormal behavior and psychopathology are often related.
A mental condition may cause behavior that significantly impacts a person’s life, which is likely abnormal. Studying the psychopathological presentation of certain behaviors can help clinicians and researchers identify treatments and interventions that could provide relief to someone with a mental disorder.
What are the four types of abnormal behavior?
Clinicians and researchers often evaluate abnormal behavior using the “Four Ds:” deviance, dysfunction, distress, and danger.
- Deviant behavior violates social norms and conventions, such as trespassing on another person’s property or stealing their possessions.
- Dysfunctional behavior significantly interferes with a person’s ability to function in their daily life. Examples include struggling to leave bed in cases of depression and the compulsive behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Distressful behavior is behavior that causes a person to feel significant psychological or physical pain. The worrying behaviors associated with anxiety disorders are likely good examples of distressful behavior.
- Dangerous behavior is any behavior that endangers someone or those around them, such as pointing a gun at a crowd or threatening another person with violence.
It is important to note that abnormal behavior does not need to be associated with mental health conditions to be considered abnormal. Similarly, bizarre or strange behavior may not be abnormal, merely unusual.
How do you know if your behavior is abnormal?
Likely, the best way to know if your behavior is abnormal is to consult with a qualified mental health practitioner. You can describe abnormal behavior without fear of judgment or ridicule, and they can provide insight into whether you are presenting maladaptive or normal behavior. They may also be able to determine if the behavior is due to a serious mental illness that requires evaluation. They may also be able to initiate drug and psychological treatments to provide relief if you find the behaviors burdensome.
What are some other words for abnormal behavior?
Abnormal behaviors are also commonly described as maladaptive behaviors, deviant behaviors, and psychopathological behaviors. It is important to note that words like “bizarre” or “strange” do not generally apply to abnormal behavior in the clinical sense. Behavior that seems strange to one person may be unusual, but unless it arises to a level where a person’s life is adversely affected, it is not likely to be described as abnormal.
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