A mental disorder is a condition that affects a lot people regardless on their culture, size, ethnicity, age, gender and etc. It can be challenging to identify a mental disorder because what might be abnormal in one context could be normal in another. There are a lot of difficulties when recognizing mental disorders even for professionals. If a person fails to recognize the actual disorder then the patient would be taking the wrong medication and would not receive the specific care he or she might need.  By understanding the development of a person’s mental health problem and the medical care impact it becomes a principal matter when diagnosticating and medicating (Kenrick, 2009).

The word abnormal has different meanings in the psychological field and biologically which depends on the person and the conditions.  There are three different approaches that are used when analyzing the abnormal theoritcal and practical challenges. Statistical abnormality, happens when a specific conduct or trait is critical to a insignificant percentage of a population. Another approach is the psychometric abnormality, which happens when a specific conduct or trait is different from the population’s regular distribution. Lastly, another approach is that abnormality is deviant’s behavior measured. This behavior can happen without a mental disorder. Dysfunction, distress, inept responses and distorted processes cause harm to individuals. These abnormalities may change as social norms change (Gerrig, 2009).

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 In psychology, what is abnormal may be seen by another person as normal. This is because society has its own stand when it comes to normality. Every society has a set of norms, which are termed acceptable and one has to conform. In such a case, identifying behavior as abnormal, which is a norm in the society, is a violation of the society standards. This makes it a challenging diagnosis of mental disorder. Therefore, for health professional to diagnose an abnormal behavior as a mental disorder, he must first define and identify the behavior, determine how long the victim has been with such a behavior and how severe it has been. For behavior to be considered as normal or abnormal there is a classification or range that one has to attain. A higher or lower rank behavior close to the average is considered to be normal while that behavior that lies far from the range is considered abnormal (Bennett, 2011).

In trying to identify a mental disorder, challenges arise especially when the abnormal behavior is seen to distress another person. This is because many people if not all suffer from distress, which is a normal occurrence. Using distress symptoms to identify a mental disorder may then lead to a false diagnosis.  The consequences that one suffers when identified as abnormal is stigmatization. The person may be separated from his/her social grouping or occupation. The individual may further try to associate her/himself with other people with mental disorders leading to psycho physiological reactions (Kenrick, 2009).

A major obstruction to objectivity is what is termed as Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). This is because objectivity is comprised of attribution errors and bias, which contributes to the incorrect identification of normal and abnormal behavior. FAE is a strong error where the observer has a tendency of underestimating situations, factors and overestimating dispositional factors that influence a person’s behavior (Bennett, 2011).








Bennett, P. (2011).abnormal and clinical psychology: an introductory textbook (3rd edition). Berkshire, Great Britain: McGraw-Hill. Butcher, J. N. (2007).

Kenrick, L.  (2009). Social psychology: goals in interaction, fourth edition. Pearson learning solutions

Gerrig, J. (2009). Psychology and Life. 18th Edition. Boston, Massachusetts, USA:

Pearson Learning Solutions. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/0558302572