In this essay I will be looking at behaviour and experience that is sometimes defined as abnormal. I will be looking at Rosenhans study, Thigpen and Cleckly, Baron Cohen and Freud.
(a) What problems did psychologists have when they tried to categorise and investigate abnormal behaviour? The first problem that I will be looking at is observer bias, which means looking more at a particular group rather than another.An example of this if a man was undertaking a study on the difference between men and women, he may focus more on the woman. This was a problem in the Rosenhan study on being sane in an insane place. Those who were observing the pseudo patients with the other patients may have only tried to focus more on one particular group, and may have only taken down what they wanted to see, rather than what they had to see.Another problem is the demand characteristics of a study.
Demand characteristics are when people try and act in ways that are expected of them. This may have been a problem in the study of Thigpen and Cleckly, on multiple personality. Maybe the whole of the Eve White thing was just acting to please the psychologists. She maybe wanted to make a name for herself therefore acting the way in which the psychologists wanted her to she might have made a name for herself.
This could have also been a problem in the Baron Cohen et al study on autism. The participants may have only tried to guess the correct answer just to please the teacher.A further problem, which was particularly seen in the Freud of Little Hans, was that the information was second hand information, form the father of Little Hans rather than from him.
The problem is that we cannot get the real picture of what Little Hans was dreaming about because it did not come from primary source. Also demand characteristics could also come into this. The father of Little Hans may have tried to exaggerate or even guess what Little Hans was dreaming about in order to please the psychologist Freud. Another thing is that the father of Little Hans may have put things into his mind that normal little children such as him wouldn’t really think about.A final problem that I will be discussing is the problem when psychologists asked its participants closed questions.
This problem could be used for the Baron Cohen study on autism. For example, the teacher asked ‘where is the marble really?’ (asking where the doll had really put the marble). The participant may have got the answer right but he/she may have only just guessed rather than actually knowing.
Or if he/she had got the wrong answer then the psychologist cannot really ask why he had chosen that particular basket. Therefore the psychologists could not really get a real answer from the participants.Overall we can see that there are problems when psychologists undertake studies particularly on behaviour and experience. What do these studies tell us about abnormal? In this part I will be looking at what the studies tell us about abnormal behaviour. To begin with I will be looking at Baron- Cohen’s study on Autistic children.
This study shows us that autistic children do not really have a theory of mind, which may be the possible cause of their problem. They do not really have the potential to realise that other people may have different thoughts to their own, also they cannot really come to terms what the other person is thinking.The study that Freud had done on Little Hans also tells us problems of abnormal behaviour. According to Freud, it is ‘normal’ to have sub- consciouse feelings which are expressed in ones dream. However, if the sub- conscious is made conscious for example, if the child comes to realise that the two giraffes represent mum and dad then the child could be helped to overcome his fear and the ‘abnormal behaviour’ of the Oedipus complex can be treated.
Another point is that childhood problems may not lead to problems in later life if treated, for example Little Hans went on to live a normal life once he had grown older.The study that Rosenhan had undertaken on ‘sane in an insane place also tells us a great deal about abnormal behaviour. According to the study it is difficult to tell between the normal and the abnormal.
One clear example of this was when the pseudo patients had asked for some paper and a pen. The nurses had just ignored them thinking they were insane. It could also be said that normal behaviour is seen as abnormal at times, as the study has shown us. If one is in an insane place they may just be categorised as insane because they are there, therefore it is difficult to distinguish between normal and abnormal behaviour.
The final study that I will be looking at is Thigpen and Cleckly. This study shows us that there may be abnormality in some people, and some do have more than one personality. It also shows us that something like this could be seen as abnormal, even though those who may have this multiple personality may not think that they are abnormal. It shows us that each personality may be normal, not necessarily what society thinks is correct.(c) ‘Is anybody normal’? Give reasons for your answer. It is very to hard say that YES some people are normal or NO we are all different individuals and no one is really normal.
To one extent some may say that some people are normal, for example in the Rosenhan study the nurses obviously felt that those who were in there were abnormal. It could also be said that those who were abnormal and normal couldn’t be differentiated therefore this could prove that there is no difference between normal and abnormal.Maybe society feels that those who are not like the majority of society should be classed as abnormal, that is why we have such a thing as abnormality. Abnormality may not necessarily be being in a mental homes, to others it may be what Baron- Cohen was investigating autism. Maybe society feels that some are normal and those who have a lapse or are a little behind are those who are abnormal.
The study that was done on the children was with theory of mind therefore it could not be said that they are behind on everything. It really depends on how people see it. So therefore if you look at it this way then it can be said that some people are normal and others are abnormal.In the Thigpen and Cleckly study not everyone has multiple personality therefore it can be said that it is abnormal behaviour. On the other hand it could be criticized that the woman was only acting just to please the psychologist and there is no such thing as this multiple personality.
This could then lead on to say that there is no such thing as abnormality. In the Freud study it is hard to distinguish the difference between normal and abnormal. Little Hans may have had these dreams and other little children his age may not have telling us that he is abnormal, whereas the dreams that he may said to have been having may not necessarily have been true, because they were second-hand data so this shows that there may have not been any abnormality in Little Hans and it was all an exaggerated thing.There are also other studies that help to show us whether anybody is actually ‘normal’.
One clear study is the one that was done by Deregowski. The split style drawing may have been common to the African people but was seen as an abnormal thing from the westerners, therefore what is to say that the Africans are abnormal just because they perceive things differently? So again it is hard to say what is normal and what is abnormal in society. I personally feel that there is no such thing as normality and you cannot really specify a normal person from an abnormal person, some people are just different from others.