In 1998 Rosenhan & Seligman described the seven elements common to most definitions of abnormality. The seven elements they can up with are suffering, maladaptiveness, irrationality and incomprehensibility, unpredictability and loss of control, vividness and unconventionality, observer discomfort, and violation of moral and ideal standards. Suffering is when patients report that they are suffering. Maladaptiveness is behavior, which prevents people from achieving major life goals such as having a family or working an everyday job. Vividness and unconventionality is when patient’s behavior is substantially different from most people.
Unpredictability and loss of control is behavior of abnormal people is often very variable and uncontrolled and inappropriate. Irrationality and incomprehensibility others cannot understand why anyone would choose to behave in this way. Observer discomfort is when people become uncomfortable when they are around the patient.
Violation of moral and ideal standards is behavior by a patient that violates established moral standards. Of these seven the three that I feel are most central to determining a clinical abnormality are vividness and unconventionality, unpredictability and loss of control and suffering.
Vividness and unconventionality is when someone’s behavior is substantially different from most people in society. This can range from someone with schizophrenia using strange way of speaking to someone suffering from anorexia nervosa being afraid to eat. The main thing is the patient is acting in a way, which isn’t normal. This element is important because this is the overall principle of mental disorders; people acting in a way, which isn’t normal. If someone’s behavior is totally off the wall and they don’t seem to be that same as everyone else I think they should be checked to see if they suffer from a mental disorder.
Unpredictability and loss of control is when someone’s behavior is inappropriate and uncontrolled. An example of this is someone suffering from mental retardation speaks out loud during church or a time when everyone is supposes to be quite. That person isn’t being loud of purpose but because of the mental disorder they suffer from they can control their functional speaking skills. This element is important because it is an obvious indicator of a mental disorder. When someone displays behavior that seems like they have no control over they should definitely be check for a mental disorder. Suffering in when someone reaches out and tell someone that they feel like they are suffering. This could be someone going to the doctor because they have been sad for multiple weeks and cant seem to become happy about anything. This is an important element because it tells you how the patient is feeling on the inside.
Unlike to tow previous elements (vividness and unconventionality, unpredictability and loss of control) that are actions that others see, suffering is how the person feels about himself or herself. Its possible for someone could have a wild behavior, not fit in with society, and do inappropriate actions but not have a mental disorder. They could just like to be different. But if someone says that they a suffering and something is wrong then we know it possible that they have a mental disorder. All seven of these elements are important to defining what abnormality is. But I feel like vividness and unconventionality, unpredictability and loss of control and suffering are the three most important to determine a clinical abnormality. We as humans need to become more aware of the seven elements so we can better understand mental disorders and help the people that suffer from them.