A wide-range of beliefs have been proposed throughout the centuries for what cognitions and behavior are considered “normal” or “abnormal” with clear dividing lines as to why they subsist (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2016). Today, however, no true boundary line exists; rather, abnormality is viewed on a continuum with an assortment of issues considered to be underlying the symptoms (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2016). According to Nolen-Hoeksema (2016), the modern understanding of abnormality is shaped by an interaction between four factors consisting of a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors: dysfunction, distress, deviance, and dangerous. Dysfunction refers to the person’s inability to function or perform in daily routines. Distress refers to the deep concern or stress a person’s conduct has on him or herself and others (e.g., chronic lying, stealing, etc.). Deviance—influenced by cultural norms—refers to occurrences like hearing voices when alone. Finally, dangerous feelings and conduct refer to that which are potentially harmful to the person, such as suicidal ideations. Together, the “four Ds” constitute what the mental health field defines as “behavior or feelings [that are] abnormal or maladaptive” (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2016, p. 6).
Today, some mental health professionals today, like Basset and Baker (2015), believe a multi-disciplinary approach that takes into account culturally-accepted values for what is normal or abnormal leads to balanced considerations in the field, which I agree with to a point. Nevertheless, a Christian’s understanding for what is normal or abnormal in conduct or cognition should ultimately come from a biblical perspective. For example, fasting causes distress to the body and seems abnormal or counter-intuitive in today’s society, but it is a scriptural practice sanctioned by God in both the Old and New Testament (Matthew 6:16-18, Luke 4:2-4, Esther 4:16, Daniel 10:3). Another example is that today it is culturally acceptable to be sexually active outside marriage, yet the Bible clearly refers to adultery and fornication as deviant behaviors and sin (Exodus 20:14, 1 Corinthians 6:1-20). Jesus was notorious for going against the culturally accepted norms of His day (e.g., the treatment of foreigners or women). However, He also frequently added to a biblical command, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28, English Standard Version, emphasis added). In John, Jesus highlighted another counter-cultural concept, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (13:34, ESV, emphasis added). Therefore, our directives as Christians should ultimately come from the Word of God more than what is accepted as normal or abnormal by culture or science.
Finally, Jesus set a biblical standard how to care for a person that has behavior or cognitions that are defined biblically as dysfunctional, distressing, deviant, and/or dangerous. Primarily, He did not reject such people—even those caught in sinful acts—but rather looked past the person’s actions to the heart of the matter (Proverbs 16:2, 1 Samuel 16:7, Hebrews 4:12). Therefore, to be most effective as Christian professionals in the mental health field, we must follow His example and learn how to best assist those exhibiting the “four Ds” (by any definition) with sincere love, compassion, and empathy. Although this is not always easy, it is a worthy directive to follow.
Abnormality can denote a state where an individual behavior is contrary to the accepted norms of behavior, thought, or emotion (Zuern & Ashley, 2012). Norms can range from socially accepted norms to inability of a person to function adequately. In essence, from a biblical perspective, abnormality can be associated with anything that goes contrary to biblical teachings. For example, in Genesis 3: 1-13, upon temptation Adam and Eve chose to rebel. Their act of rebelling is an example of abnormal behavior. As such, the difference between normal and abnormal results from variations in thoughts, emotions, and behaviors (Nolen-Hoeksema’s, 2017). This means that Adam and Eve’s choice of rebelling is a display of abnormal behavior.
However, biblical conceptions of normal and abnormal behavior tend to differ from those in my culture. For instance, the act of rebelling may not be necessarily seen as an abnormal behavior but as a consequence of a stage such as adolescence or simply a reaction to an action. The underlying reason is that modern judgments of abnormality are influenced by the interplay of the four D’s: dysfunction, distress, deviance, and dangerousness (Nolen-Hoeksema’s, 2017). In effect, amidst such a difference, biblical teachings can inform a person’s concept of what is considered normal, and this can be achieved by following the laid down rules such as the Ten Commandments. Bottom of Form
Requirements for response back to post:
-Required word count 150 words
-Reply is thoughtful and demonstrates higher level thinking which adds value to the discussion
-Bible verse required is cited in text in correct APA format with no errors.
-Outside source required is cited in text and listed at the end of the post in correct APA format with no errors.
-Course textbook is cited, chp 1-2.(listed below and attached)
Nolen-Hoeksema, Susan (2016). Abnormal Psychology. (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Publishers. ISBN # 978-1-259-57813-7
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