abnormal behavior and determining whether it qualifies a person with a mental disorder is complex and incorporates many differing perceptions. No concrete definition is assigned in terming behavior to be abnormal but there are six primary elements recognized. Mental disorders are assigned by professionals according to a classification system. The debate of whether this is the most sufficient system of assignment continues as some argue against the organizational structure based on the history and detail of an individual in classifying them under a label. A case example describing a personality, behaviors, and thought processes of an individual named Jim are analyzed to determine abnormal behavior and mental disorder qualifications. Determining Abnormal Behavior
The case example of Jim is a summary of background information of a male named Jim to analyze how factoring the primary elements of abnormal behavior and the definition given by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (2000) fourth edition, to separate from, and then together, prove the complexity in determining the behavior of a person as abnormal and whether or not it would qualify them for a mental disorder. The Six Elements
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Butcher, Monika, & Hooley (2010) outline the primary elements of abnormal behavior as suffering, maladaptiveness, deviancy, violations of standards of society, social discomfort, and irrationality and unpredictability. The elements are premised as a “prototypical model” for a guide and explained that no singular element is sufficient (p. 4).
Applying the elements to the information provided, an assessment of abnormality is determined. Jim exhibits behaviors thematic in the elements to maladaptiveness, deviancy, violations of societal standards, and causal for the social discomfort. His behavior meets maladaptive criteria because he is described by others as a ‘loner’, ‘socially different’, misses social cues to cause discomfort for others, as well as being brutally honest (Butcher et. al., 2010).
Deviance is qualified on his behavior because it is the behavior is statistically rare and undesirable, but with society possibly excusing desirability of his behavior by a lack of consideration or politeness, the maladaptive element determination is taken into account to assess the implications of societal values that are implicated. Jim violates many standards of society and causes social discomfort exampled by not marrying, not having or seeking relationships, not having friends, missing social cues, and being brutally honest. The final element, irrationality and unpredictability, is the only element where Jim’s behavior is in opposition, having been with his employer for 15 years, paying his bills on time, preferring solitude and a lifestyle of ‘living under the radar’. Incorporation of Elements in DSM-IV-TR
The definition supplied by the DSM-IV-TR (2000) introduction explains that the conditions and criteria of mental disorders are based on levels of abstraction. The definition is vague, attempting to separate the term mental disorders from the symptoms indicators of mental disorders. Elements of suffering, deviancy, violations of standards of society, social discomfort, and irrationality and unpredictability are directly specified or a reason for inference in assigning a mental disorder is provided. The only element missing in the section is maladaptiveness, however it proves to be very important to the classification system later in the introductory (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).
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The significance that is given to the element should find a way of formatting into future revisions made of the manual and this section for defining mental disorders.
Suffering is incorporated by impairment of functioning as a disability, although he may be oblivious and does not care what others think of him, his behaviors exhibit social developmental incapacities with oblivion at his social ineptness and not recognizing directional value and regard in social interactions, so he thinks he is receives no satisfaction through the interactions when in reality he has a social impairment, the perception ‘ignorance is bliss’ is applicable to the interactions Jim engages in. Irrationality and unpredictability are incorporated as an indicator of mental disorders. Deviancy, violations of standards of society, and social discomfort are incorporated when the definition states, “Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) or conflicts that are primary between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual, as described above” (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p. xxi).
Missing maladaptiveness element.
The definition that is summarized in the introductory section that only leaves out the element for maladaptiveness, leaving the misconception that it is unimportant to the DSM-IV-TR (2000) determinations and criteria when the opposite is true. The element is important enough to earn the distinction of prominence of an axial heading without a disorder. The introduction later states that this element is presented as both personality features that do not meet the threshold for a personality disorder and defense mechanism used habitually that are allowed in Axis II (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, p. 27).
Considering Mental Disorder in Jim
The DSM-IV-TR (2000) definition would qualify Jim for a mental disorder from broad descriptions to certain specific points for determination. Indicators such as suffering and irrationality as associated with distress, disability, or increased risk of an important loss of freedom, infer that he has some indicators of mental disorders. The social relationships that he has are considered in the definition as conflicts between an individual and society that have a specific clause regarding whether or not the conflict is applicable to a mental disorder diagnosis. In his specific case, a symptom of dysfunction determines the conflicts applicable. Perceptions of Classification System
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Classification systems are used heavily in research to reduce the amount of information for use of shorthand form. It is a systematic way of structuring and labeling information (Butcher et. al., 2010).
The benefits provided by using the DSM-IV-TR (2000) is quick referencing in the field of research, professional use, and a format for clinical symptoms and labels aimed at inclusion of their separate or associated disturbances in etiology and biology (Butcher et. al., 2010).
Consequences in systematic classification.
The format in classification systems provides a labeling or naming of information, so in mental disorders this system supplies an effect with no cause or detail which could be important to later changes in personality and behavior of an individual. Butcher et al., also refer to the social implications such as stereotypes and insurance companies that refer to the system to label or use as justification reasons (2010).
Abnormal assessments of behavior must take into account situations and reasons for occurring to defer the behavior as abnormal. Butcher et al.,also point out the importance of recognizing societies judgments intertwined in key areas of relevance to the individual (2010).
Abnormal behavior has to be determined before a clinical diagnosis of mental disorders is applied. Through the case example of Jim, the primary elements are used to determine the abnormality of his behavior, which elements are incorporated in the DSM-IV-TR (2000) definition of disorders, and determining if Jim qualifies for a clinical mental disorder. Mental disorders are diagnosed by the classification system known as the DSM-IV-TR (2000).
Any system is going to have benefits and consequences of design, and there are several regarding the stigmas and loss of personal information against the gain of naming clusters of information for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. Butcher et al., provide the perception of the DSM-IV-TR (2000) as work in progress (2010).
Butcher, J. N., Mineka, S., & Hooley, J. M. (2010).
Abnormal Psychology (14th ed.).
Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. American Psychological Association. (2000).
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (14th ed.).
Washington, DC: Author.