Abnormal Psychology




Psychologyis the study of the human mind and its functions. The field can alsobe defined as the edification of human feelings, thoughts, andbehavior. Abnormality, on the other hand, is defined as anything thatfalls behind a particular set standard or rule. From the twodefinitions, one can therefore safely explain abnormal psychology asthe section of psychology that is concerned with the examination ofunusual patterns of emotions, behavior, and thoughts. Abnormalpsychology can also be defined as the study of brain dysfunctionsthat causes aberrant behaviors. When looking into abnormal psychologyrather than focusing on the difference between what is standard andwhat is uncharacteristic, it is relevant to concentrate instead onthe level of anguish or distraction that a troubling behavior mightcause. If a behavior is disruptive to others or causes problems in aperson’s life, then it can be termed as abnormal behavior thatrequires some mental health intervention. This essay looks at anexample of abnormality in the society and how it demonstrates theconcepts of abnormal psychology.

Amost recent casualty of alcoholism that hit the headlines is thedeath of Putin’s close adviser Lesin Mikhail who was found dead inhis hotel room. According to the New York Times, authorities inWashington’s state department believe Lesin died partly from acuteethanol intoxication and injuries he sustained as a result of hisheavy drinking. Substance use disorder knows no boundaries, and itaffects people from all walks of life. Psychological disorders can bedefined as patterns of psychological symptoms that impact multipleareas of life, creating distress for the person experiencing thesymptoms. The use of psychoactive substances in most cultures iswidely accepted as normal. However, these materials can lead to allsorts of problems for the users (Hansell and Damour, 2012). One ofthe problematic public health challenges is the utilization ofpsychoactive substances. In the USA alone alcoholism is ranked as themost common substance use disorder while deaths associated withliquor consumption are ranked third.

Dependenceon drugs is the most severe diagnosis of cognitive, behavioral andpsychological indicators that highlights whether an individual haslost control over the drug. These symptoms include withdrawalreactions when the drug is not available and physiological toleranceto the drug. Hansell and Damour (2012), states that psychologicaldependency happens when the user’s need the drug to help them copewith depression, stress, anxiety or just because it makes them feelbetter. In Lesin’s case, it is not known what led to his alcoholpoisoning, though sources suggest it was due to work related stress.He was unable to perform and cope with the demands of everyday life,demonstrating the psychological effects related to dependence onpsychoactive drugs.

Alcoholhas been found to affect one’s cognitive process. Alcohol damagesthe brain and decreases its density (Hansell and Damour, 2012). Thisimpairs performance on many cognitive tasks and slows down a person’sability to respond to stimulus. According to Hansell and Damour(2012), inadequate response to a stimulus is one of the refutedconcepts of abnormality. In this concept when a person shows areaction to a stimulus which is not adequate, the person is said tobe insane. The New York Times reported that Lesin death was majorlydue to injuries he sustained after days of excessive consumption ofalcohol (Myers, 2016). This can be considered abnormal because, if hewere in a sober state, he would probably have avoided or at leastnoticed the injuries and looked for medical attention. His alcoholismdecreased his probability of detecting his wounds that neededattention at the time.

Abnormalitycan also be related to inappropriateness to social standards.Substance use has been found to alter people’s behavior andthinking, giving them a false understanding of their actions (Hanselland Damour, 2012). For example, alcohol changes the mood of someone,usually making them aggressive with chances of violent behaviorbecoming more likely. These types of actions are considered sociallyunacceptable and inappropriate which make one who has them to be seenas abnormal. Besides, the Washington Post reports claim that thenight prior to his death, Lesin was behaving erratically, somethingthat might have led to him sustaining the injuries that were part ofthe cause of his death (Spencer, 2015). Thus, if this individual hadbeen sober, he could have averted certain actions that would put himin harm’s way by behaving in a socially acceptable manner.

Abnormalpsychology has no clear cut definition. Ethically, there is a vitalissue of the dangers of over-diagnosis in unusual cases.Professionals are therefore advised to keenly consider the cultureand circumstances of people that are exhibiting such unusualbehaviors. With this in mind, they can use multiple viewpoints tohelp treat individuals that show psychopathology. How abnormalbehavior is defined in the society today is still a subject ofdiscussion. Modern approaches are not new but are as a result ofcenturies of trial and error. There is no specific, culturally orsocially acceptable definition of what makes a behavior abnormal. Inmost cases, abnormality definition is based on ethics, customs,convenience, emotion, appeal, feelings and on what the society agreesto as acceptable and what is not acceptable.


Hansell,J. and Damour, L. (2012). Abnormalpsychology (2nd Ed.).New Jersey: Wiley.

Myers,S. (2016 October 28). FoulPlay Is Ruled Out in Death of a Putin Ally.The New York Times, pp. A6

Spencer,S. (2015, October 28). Deathof former Putin aide at D.C. hotel is ruled accidental.The Washington Post, pp. A1, A4.