Normality, Abnormality and Mental Disorder in a Person-centered Continuum

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Aleksander Janca
Sivasankaran Balaratnasingam


Normality, abnormality and mental disorder can be seen as points on a spectrum ranging from normal to psychopathological or as three separate and distinct states with clearly defined boundaries. From an epidemiological point of view, normality can be seen as the person being within the mid-range of a bell shaped curve of normal population distribution.Abnormality typically has a negative connotation or meaning like being anomalous, aberrant, deviant, odd, etc. A person has a mental disorder if the person suffers from a disturbance of thought, mood, volition, perception, orientation or memory that impairs judgment or behaviour to a significant extent. Psychiatric diagnosis usually refers to a statement specifying required symptoms and signs, their onset, duration, reaction to treatment and possible outcome. The main practical purposes of diagnosis in psychiatry are communication between mental health professionals and statistics of mental disorders. The reliability of psychiatric diagnoses is sometimes questionable and their validity can be dubious and arbitrary. Current work is underway by the International College of Person-centered Medicine (ICPCM) in collaboration with other major international organizations in order to overcome these limitations using a model of Person-Centred Integrative Diagnosis.

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