Describe the difficulties in distinguishing between normal and abnormal behavior.


Despite many years of attempting to make a distinction between what is abnormal and what is not, distinguishing between these behaviors remains a complex and difficult process. Certain types of behavior are normal in some situations, but considered abnormal in others. Some types of abnormal behavior are characterized by feelings of distress, others by the absence of feelings. For example, some cultures may view the absence of feeling sad when a loved one has passed as an abnormal behavior.

There is no single satisfactory identified means of classifying individuals into categories of normal and abnormal. However, various criteria are used in an attempt to distinguish behavior. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association is an example of one classification system used by professionals to identify abnormal behavior.


Joiner, J. “Psychosocial Adaptation to Disability and Psychological Considerations.” In P. Deutsch and H. Sawyer (Ed.) A Guide to Rehabilitation. White Plains, NY: AHAB Press.

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