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Abnormal Behavior and the Four D’s


Abnormal behavior basically refers to the sense of departing from the typical or the accepted ways of conduct. What is normal and abnormal differs with societies, something that makes it extremely difficult to define abnormal psychology. The differences arise due to the society’s values, habits, institutions, history, skills and technology. Additionally, a society’s values may change over time and hence that was valuable in a particular period of time to becoms obsolete and hence abnormal after a number of years. This document focuses on abnormal psychology by mainly spotlighting on the four D’s of abnormal psychology, which include deviance, distress, dysfunction and danger. This will, however, be explained through examination of my personal encounters in life.

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Deviance normally deals with a person’s behavior, emotions and thoughts that are differing considerably from those of the societal norms. Individuals who conform to the acceptable modes of behavior preset by the society are considered normal while those who do not are considered abnormal. It is, however, contradictory, because norms differ by cultures and society with the implication that something might be considered acceptable in one culture and in another be considered unacceptable (Factoidz, 2012). I liken this with a good example of a man I once met jumping up and down in streets nude. This is abnormal, because the person has violated the acceptable norms concerned with wearing clothes as well as personal dignity.

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Apart from culture, another criterion used in judgment of the normal and abnormal behavior is situation and context. The man in this case would be considered abnormal, since the society expects one to be nude only, when they are bathing and in a confined area. Another criterion used is age (Comer, 2011). A small child being nude would not attract the attention of many people as with the case of a mature person. All these define the extent at which a person is considered as either normal is abnormal.


There are moments when emotions, actions and thoughts might cause an individual to get distressed. During these instances, a person can be considered abnormal. This follows the obvious notion that, when people get distressed, they have the tendency of behaving awkwardly (Mind, 2012). In regard to distress, I will give an instance of a close friend who had been gripped by mental distress. Though the friend could not have been aware that he was distressed, he started doubting himself and was so afraid that he had gone mad. He was in constant doubt as to whether he was thinking and reasoning properly. Another great fear was to whether the person was going to lose friends, family as well as personal freedom. These fears stopped him from discussing his problems with other people and instead increased isolation.

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This is yet another part of abnormal behavior that is concerned with a person’s incapacity to carry on with his or her personal daily activities. Just like with deviance, dysfunction can also be dictated by culture (Comer, 2011). When an individual is behaving awkwardly due to mental illness, they cannot conform to the general ways that are acceptable by the society. It can be manifested in various ways including malnutrition, hygiene or substance abuse. I will compare this with an instance of a family friend who had been obsessed with recreational activities to the extent that at some point they began interfering with her routines. The woman was a renowned accountant in one of the superior banks around, where I lived. Due to her increasing weight and fears that she might grow obese, she enrolled in gymnastics and swimming classes. It, however, reached a point that she sometimes went swimming at the expense of her job. This continued for a considerate period of time until she finally lost her job.

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The last element of abnormal behavior is danger. Individuals can become a threat not only to themselves, but also to the others, since they behave in a manner that sometimes puts themselves and the society in jeopardy. When such people become confused, they are more likely to project their confusion to other people or themselves in a form of crime, hostilities, suicide or even murder (Comer, 2011). As reinforcement to this point, I give an eye-witness case of a young man who committed suicide by hanging himself after being puzzled by life and economic problems. Generally, it can be inferred that abnormal behavior is conceived differently by different communities and is determined by different criteria including culture, age and context.

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