By Thomas F. Oltmanns
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Extra resources for Abnormal Psychology, 7th Edition
Kevin’s paranoid beliefs would be defined as pathological because they are idiosyncratic. Mental disorders are, in fact, defined in terms of experiences that most people do not have. This approach, however, does not specify how unusual the behavior must be before it is considered abnormal. Some conditions that are typically considered to be forms of psychopaWhat is the thology are extremely rare. For difference between example, gender identity disornormal and abnormal der, the belief that one is a membehavior?
She had become ill after going out soned. Slowly, he revealed more of the for dinner one night and mentioned that plot. Immediately after admission to the she must have eaten something that made hospital, Kevin had decided that his psyher sick. After reading the letter, Kevin be- chiatrist, who happened to be from Korea, came convinced that his supervisor had could not be trusted. Kevin was sure that he, too, was working for army intelligence tried to poison his mother, too. When questioned about this new inci- or perhaps for a counterintelligence opdent, Kevin launched into a long, rambling eration.
Value judgments are an inherent part of any attempt to define “disorder” (Sedgwick, 1981). Many people think about culture primarily in terms of exotic patterns of behavior in distant lands. The decisions regarding homosexuality and premenstrual dysphoric disorder remind us that the values of our own culture play an intimate role in our definition of abnormal behavior. These issues also highlight the importance of cultural change. Culture is a dynamic process; it changes continuously as a result of the actions of individuals.