When delving into the complex subject matter of the human mind there are numerous questions we must first address, one being 'what constitutes abnormality?'.
On the surface this inquisition may seem fairly obvious, abnormality can merely be described as the absence of what is defined as normal, however this somewhat simple solution is nevertheless unsatisfactory. The line between what is normal and what is not is so blurred that we need a universally accepted definition. While this may not yet and may never exist, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders composed by the American Psychiatric Association is as close as our modern world has come to understanding mental 'abnormalities' or disorders, their causes and their possible solutions and treatments.
Thankfully the treatment of the mentally ill has significantly evolved over the last fifty years or so, and an emphasis on empathy for patients is now instilled in medical professionals, and treatment is no longer perverse and cruel in the vast majority of cases. This partly comes from a better understanding that those who suffer from mental illness do so through no fault of their own. While they themselves are the key to their own recovery it is fundamental to note that the majority of disorders are either genetic based or triggered by trauma, and in many cases cannot be treated only .
To fully grasp the concept of 'abnormal psychology' we must first examine an accepted definition. The DSM-V defines mental disorder as 'Clinically significant disturbance in cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior that indicate a dysfunction in mental functioning that are usually associated with significant stress of disability in work, relationships, or other areas of functioning' (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 20). While this may seem like a fair comprehension, is it fair for us to link mental disorders with abnormality? One might suggest that 'some norm violations are better characterized as eccentric or illegal than as abnormal.