How to Identify Abnormal Behavior?

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Abnormal behavior is a trait that is uncommon but nonetheless exists in certain people. To describe aberrant behavior, psychologists proposed three defining elements. These are cultural deviation, psychological anguish, and, finally, maladaptive behaviors or qualities that have the potential to harm an individual. As a result, the three elements are described below.

To begin with, psychologists say that acts that do not correspond to social norms should be regarded deviant. Almost every culture has an unwritten code of conduct that specifies how a person should or should not behave. Therefore, a behavior is regarded as abnormal when it is in contrary to the standard of practice set out by a given society. However, social norms vary from one community to another. A good example of an abnormal behavior according to this element is a person walking naked in public.

Personal Distress

Another defining element of abnormal behavior is personal distress, which is an impairment that makes a person unfit to make rational decisions. Impairment can be as a result of substance abuse or accident that tampers with the normal functioning of the body. In regards to describing abnormal behavior, people with this condition can behave weirdly, for instance, feeling of worthless and having difficulties in reasoning.

Failure to Function Properly

Lastly, maladaptive behavior or habits that have the potential to cause harm can also be used as elements of describing abnormal behavior. Psychologists argue that a normal behavior must be one that promotes self-care and meets the daily requirements of a person. Thus, any behavior that is in contrary to this is abnormal. According to this element, taking alcohol or smoking is an abnormal behavior.


In conclusion, the three elements, as explained above are pivotal in defining and describing abnormal behaviors. Additionally, they tend to elaborate further on the variation of abnormal behaviors and their causes.

April 26, 2023

Psychology Sociology


Behavior Experience

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Expertise Social Norms
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