Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology by Comer

Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology 7th ed. by Ronald J. Comer

What Is Psychological Abnormality?

Although their general goals are similar to those of other scientific professionals, clinical scientists and practitioners face problems that make their work especially difficult. One of the most troubling is that psychological abnormality is very hard to define. While many definitions of abnormality have been proposed over the years, none has won total acceptance.

Still, most of the definitions have certain features in common, often called “the four Ds“:

  • deviance,
  • distress,
  • dysfunction,
  • danger.

That Is, patterns of psychological abnormality’ are typically deviant (different, extreme, unusual, perhaps even bizarre), distressing (unpleasant and upsetting to the person), dysfunctional (interfering with the persons ability to conduct daily activities in a constructive way), and possibly dangerous. This definition offers a useful starting point from which to explore the phenomena of psychological abnormality. As you will see, however, it has key limitations.


Abnormal psychological functioning is deviant, but deviant from what? We do not expect people to cry themselves to sleep each night, hate the world, wish themselves dead, or obey voices that no one else hears. In short, abnormal behavior, thoughts, and emotions are those that differ markedly from a society’s ideas about proper functioning. Each society establishes norms—stated and unstated rules for proper conduct. A society’s norms grow from its particular culture—its history, values, institutions, habits, skills, technology, and arts.


According to many clinical theorists, behavior, ideas, or emotions usually have to cause distress before they can be labeled abnormal. Should we conclude, then, that feelings of distress must always be present before a persons functioning can be considered abnormal?


Abnormal behavior tends to be dysfunctional; that is, it interferes with daily functioning. It so upsets, distracts, or confuses people that they cannot care for themselves properly, participate in ordinary’ social interactions, or work productively.


Perhaps the ultimate in psychological dysfunctioning is behavior that becomes dangerous to oneself or others. Individuals whose behavior is consistendy careless, hostile, or confused may be placing themselves or those around them at risk.

The field devoted to the scientific study of the problems we find so fascinating is usually called abnormal psychology. As in any science, workers in this field, called clinical scientists, gather information systematically so that they may describe, predict, and explain the phenomena they study. The knowledge that they acquire is then used by clinical practitioners, whose role is to detect, assess, and treat abnormal patterns of functioning.


Abnormal Psychology in Science and Clinical Practice

  • Abnormal Psychology: Past and Present
  • Models of Abnormality
  • Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Problems of Anxiety and Mood

  • Anxiety, ObsessiveCompulsive, and Related Disorders
  • Disorders of Trauma and Stress
  • Disorders of Mood
  • Suicide

Problems of the Mind and Body

  • Disorders Featuring Somatic Symptoms
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Use and Addictive Disorders П Disorders of Sex and Gender

Problems of Psychosis and the Cognitive Function

  • Schizophrenia

Life-Span Problems

  • Personality Disorders
  • Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
  • Disorders of Aging and Cognition

Language: English            Format: PDF             Pages: 688             Size: 38 mb!yyZmiKhQ!aGnIrWscJyDqWUf41TEFXq5wzpSKW_4AIsPrIMPjHIY