What is Psychopathology?

What is Psychopathology?

Psychopathology is considered to be the scientific study of mental disorders. According to Butcher, Mineka, and Hooley (2010), psychopathology is another word for abnormal psychology (pp. 3).  This includes the nature of the behavior, the cause, and the treatment. Abnormal psychology has six elements that determine whether or not it is in fact abnormal. The six elements are: suffering, maladaptiveness, deviancy, violation of the standards of society, social discomfort, and irrationality/unpredictability (Butcher, Mineka, & Hooley, 2010). However, defining abnormal behavior can sometimes be difficult to define as the social norms are constantly changing. The example of tattoos being fashionable is a great example. Another example would be how boys are wearing their pants. A few years ago, it was impossible to keep their pants above their waistline and now everyone is wearing the tight jeans. The sagging pants could be related to being in a gang etc. One would need more information to determine a mental disorder but it a good place to start.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is also a common problem amongst children. Some of the criteria, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is having difficulty with attention with tasks and activities. Another symptom is not listening when spoken to directly.  (American Psychiatric Association , 2000, p. 235). This is considered abnormal, however I know some of us have been discussing the new version of the DSM.  I have wondered if they would make any adjustments to the DSM in regards to ADHD. Anyone have a thoughts regarding this disorder?


American Psychiatric Association , (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.

Butcher, James, Mineka, Susan, & Hooley, Jill. (2010). Abnormal Psychology, 14th Edition. Chapter 1 Abnormal Psychology: An Overview.


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