Difference Between Normal and Abnormal Behavior

Normal vs Abnormal Behavior

Between the concepts of what constitutes as Normal behavior and abnormal behavior, we can identify certain differences. However, what is interesting to note, is the fact that while a particular behavior that is considered as normal in one culture, can be considered as abnormal in another. This highlights that culture plays a significant role in the understanding of behavior as normal or abnormal. But, at times, this understanding goes beyond the cultural expectations and become medical conditions that are often harmful to the individual, as well as the society. Then such behavior are considered as abnormal universally. In psychology, specific attention is being paid to abnormality in abnormal psychology. Through this article let us comprehend the differences between normal and abnormal behavior.

What is Normal Behavior?

Normal behavior refers to expected behavior in individuals. The manner in which people interact with others, go about their lives are usually in accordance with the social expectations. When these expectations and individual behavior synchronize, the behavior is considered as normal. For example, imagine you see an individual shouting at a pay counter because the cashier is too slow. You would not consider the individual as crazy or his behavior as abnormal. This is because we consider it as expected and normal human behavior. In every society, there are social expectations, norms, values, mores, etc. which dictate the code of conduct of individuals. As long as people abide by these their behavior is considered as normal. There may be exceptions to this, where there are eccentric characters as well. These people, however, are not considered as abnormal because there is a wide diversity of individual characters and personalities.

Difference Between Normal and Abnormal Behavior

A normal behavior

What is Abnormal Behavior?

If a pattern of behavior goes against what is considered as normal by the society, this can be defined as abnormal behavior. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual abnormal describes behavioral, emotional, cognitive dysfunctions that are unexpected in their cultural context and associated with personal distress and substantial impairment in functioning. This definition suggests that the common myths that people have of individuals who are considered as abnormal are inaccurate. Some of the myths are that the individual abnormal behavior cannot be cured and are due to genetics, they are weak willed and dangerous, they never contribute to society and are devious. In ancient days, when people with abnormal behavior were found they were considered as engaging in witchcraft or possessed by demons and were treated brutally. Exorcism, trepanation, and shock therapy were given to these people. In the present, abnormality is considered as a mental illness. In Psychology, these are divided into different themes such as clinical disorders, personality disorders, general medical conditions, etc.

 Normal vs Abnormal Behavior

Washing hands constantly is abnormal behavior

What is the difference between Normal and Abnormal Behavior?

• Normal behavior refers to expected behavior in individuals whereas abnormal behavior refers to behavioral patterns that go against the social expectations.

• A behavior becomes normal or abnormal depending on the cultural context of the individual. A particular behavior that is considered as abnormal in one society may not be so in another.

• The concept of abnormal behavior has gained different interpretations over the years unlike in the case of normal behavior. In the past, abnormality was considered as effects of witchcraft and demonic possessions. Today it is considered as an illness.

• The societal treatment of normal and abnormal is also quite different. People tend to display fear and even ridicule at abnormal behavior.


Images Courtesy: John Hill and John Linthicum shaking hands and woman washing hands via Wikicommons (Public Domain)