Deviations from ideal mental health

  • Created by: nadiaag
  • Created on: 20-06-18 17:30

Deviations from ideal mental health


  • It has a positive outlook. It is the only definition of abnormality that looks at what mental health should be like. This definition also distinguishes between what is desirable and what isn't desirable. Despite the fact that it was never really taken up by any professionals, it does fit into the movement of "positive psychology".


  • It suggests that physical and mental health are the same. Jahoda devised this definition because she suggested that mental illness should be identified in the same way physical illness is identified, and that is by considering what an ideal physical health is charcterised by. However physical illness has physical causes such as bacteria and viruses, whereas mental illness usually has causes relating to life experience; because they are not caused by the same factors they should not be defined or identified using the same tools/procedure.
  • It's based on an unrealistic criteria. This is because according to this definition of abnormality, most people are abnormal and are likely to have a mental disorder. This is due to the fact that Jahoda in her definition does not indicate how many of those categories she devised ought to be missing in order to fit into the definition of deviating from ideal mental health. And also the categories she provided as a measuring tool, cannot be realistically measured as  they arise the issue of how can we measure personal growth and mastery of environment, as well as against what standards are we measuring such categories.


Even though it is a positive approach to defining mental health unlike the other definitions of abnormality, Jahoda's deviation from ideal mental health alone cannot provide a thorough tool to measure abnormality, and because it was never taken up by any professionals unlike the other definitions of abnormality it does appear to be a weaker definition of abnormality in comparison to definitions such as failure to function adequately or statistical infrequency.


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