Perspectives of Abnormal Behavior

Suppose in an exam room, in the middle of an exam. A student starts fighting with someone or dancing around. What will be your reaction? you will think of them as weird, or you will consider them abnormal without knowing the real meaning and causes of abnormality. This is because you made a criterion that whatever is against societal norms is abnormal. Let us try to understand the causes of this abnormal behavior.

What Are the Reasons of Abnormal Behavior?

It is difficult to know exactly the reasons of abnormal behavior, so, to understand what causes a different kind of psychopathology, an important step is to observe what variables are associated with it. For example − a child having traumatic childhood experiences and bad relationships will have difficulty trusting people around him.

Indicators of Abnormal Behavior

Before understanding the cause, let us understand abnormal behavior indicators.

  • Violation of standards of society − when behavior violates the standards of Society and is statistically deviant or rare, and it can vary from culture to culture.

  • Social discomfort − when someone violates the social rule, those around him or her experience a sense of discomfort.

  • Irrationality and Unpredictability − we expect people to behave in a certain way, and behavior different from that will be considered abnormal.

  • Dangerousness − someone who is a danger to themselves and others around them is considered abnormal.

Perspectives of Abnormal Behavior

As we discussed earlier, causes of abnormal behavior depend upon the relation of variables.

Let us try to understand the causes and this point by taking different perspectives, which can be variable for the cause of Abnormal behavior.

Let us try to understand the causes and this point by taking different perspectives which can be variable for the cause of Abnormal behavior.

Biological Perspective

These are −

  • Genetic Abnormality − Genes carry information from a parent to a child. Genes are not an indicator of all abnormality, but some evidence shows that some abnormality shows at least some genetic influence.

  • Genotype: Environment Interaction − In most cases, genetic factors are not necessary for abnormality but can contribute to vulnerability if a person has some stressor in their life.

  • Imbalance − can be a cause and occur due to excessive production and release of neurotransmitter substance into the synapses, causing a functional excess in the level of that neurotransmitter, or there may be dysfunction in the normal processes by which neurotransmitter, once released into the synapse are deactivated.

  • Hormonal Imbalances and malfunctioning of certain hormones can contribute as a reason for abnormal behavior.

  • Temperament − It is the way one reacts to different situations. For example − someone is extrovert or introvert.

  • It also depends on parenting styles and the environment one is embedded into.

Psychological Perspective

According to Freud, Abnormal behavior can be due to some problem lying in the unconscious mind. Childhood traumatic experiences stored in the unconscious can contribute to abnormal behavior. Anxiety is normal, and we experience it in daily life; like, in an exam, when 5 minutes are left, we speed up, but if anxiety is extreme and persistent, it can be problematic. Also, Freud demonstrated that certain abnormal mental problems occur to cope with problems and exaggerate normal ego-defense mechanisms.

Cognitive Behavioral Perspective

It focuses on how distorted thoughts and information processing can lead to maladaptive emotions and behavior.

  • Schemas and Cognitive distortion − Schemas represent who we are, our viewpoints, and what is important to us. If, in an earlier learning experience, we develop maladaptive schemas that can contribute to abnormal behavior.

Social Perspective

We learn from the experiences and the world around us; some experiences can be less helpful and lead to abnormal behavior. Some children are raised where they get less care and attention and lack encouragement and positive learning. In such cases, there are chances that they will have certain abnormal behavior in later life. Another cause can be maltreatment in their own home; when children face neglect and abuse in their own home, they may have abnormal behavior in later life.

Additionally, problems in parenting style, wherein children are brought up in an uninvolved, authoritative parenting style, may later in life develop abnormal behavior. Another reason can be maladaptive peer relationships where, for example, if a child has faced bullying or cyberbullying, they may develop abnormal behavior due to a traumatic experience.

Cultural Perspective

Although all cultures have a heritage that passes from one generation to other, the style varies from one group to another. There is variation in the way different cultures describe psychological distress. Different cultures have different phenomena for declaring someone abnormal; what can be normal for one culture can be abnormal for another. E.g. − for some cultures, aggression is normal, whereas for others, it is abnormal, and, in some cultures, there is no word such as depression.


Abnormal behavior has different meanings according to different people. However, one thing that is the same in all explanations is that it is a danger to the person and people around them and creates disturbances in daily life routines. Abnormal behavior can be linked to past experiences or problems in some learning and biological differences, as we discussed. As we discussed at the start of the topic, one variable is the reason for other problems. For example, problems in parenting style are the reason for disturbances in interpersonal relations.

Updated on: 06-Apr-2023


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