Historical Perspectives of Abnormal Psychology
Defining abnormal behavior requires first defining normal behavior. Additionally, one must determine the spectrum that links one to the other. After determining the extremes of the spectrum, abnormal psychology works to define where on the spectrum behavior moves from normal to abnormal. The method used to make such a determination is dependent on five specific criteria. According to Damour and Hansell (2008), these criteria are (a) seek help, (b) irrationality or dangerousness, (c) deviance, (d) emotional distress, and (e) significant impairment (p. 10). The first three are useful from a biological point of view, whereas the last two have a more scientific basis. For example, a person may seek help if physical changes occur as a result of depression such as weight loss. However, the emotional distress of depression or the impairment to the individual’s personality is measurable; therefore making the factors helpful in defining the scientific side of abnormal behavior.
The history of abnormal behavior dates back to Before Christ (BC). Therefore, the attempt to define abnormal behavior also dates back to that period. Even though defining abnormal and normal behavior always has been a difficult task, theories of abnormal psychology can define specific areas of abnormal behavior because abnormal psychology is a viable scientific discipline and the differences in cultures, individuals, and situations are important factors in classifying abnormal behaviors (Damour & Hansell, 2008).
Evolution of Abnormal Psychology
The most important reason theories of abnormal psychology can define specific areas of abnormal behavior is that abnormal psychology is a viable scientific discipline. Dating back just over100 years, abnormal psychology is young in comparison to the history of abnormal behavior. The spiritual approach is the oldest known approach to curing abnormal behavior. In the days before Christ, people believed that...