Abnormal in Psychology
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There’s a long-standing debate in the real world and in the field of psychology about the word “abnormal.” People who don’t know about abnormal psychology or psychopathology (the majority of the population), have an easy way out. Especially in developing countries, people who have any kind of mental health issue are deemed crazy. But, today we will find out what is abnormal and normal in psychology.

What is normal?

The World Health Organization (WHO) conceptualizes mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

Hence, if you are normal, that doesn’t mean that you will not have any stress in life or that you are always cheerful and happy. It means that the stress or mild anxiety (which is pretty common these days) is not interfering with your normal functioning, interpersonal relationships, occupation and social life.

What is abnormal?

Abnormal means that your mental health issues are impairing your daily routine, interpersonal relationships, sleep pattern, occupation, and so on.

But wait, abnormal has two types. Neurotic and Psychotic!

You might be thinking, I’ve heard that before!

And there’s a HUGE difference between both of them!

And that is-insight. Insight means knowing that you have a mental health issue and that you need to do something about it.

Neurotic people know that they have a certain mental health issue, like anxiety or panic disorder. They also realize that it is interfering with their work and daily routine. They seldom harm or cause problems for the people around them deliberately.

Neurotic People
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Psychotic people, on the other hand, are prone to having no significant insight about their issues, and they do not come to terms with having mental health issues in the first place. For example, people who have schizophrenia, delusional disorder, and other disorders of the psychotic spectrum. Psychotic patients lose touch with the reality, and have a tendency to create their own reality sometimes. The way they act and behave is not on purpose, it’s just they are dealing with something severely debilitating.

So, when you look at it that way, you really cannot call abnormal people crazy. A more appropriate term could be psychotic, but that is also extreme if you do not know all the symptoms.

What can you do then?

The thing you can and should do is educate yourself and those around you about these terminologies. Let alone the world, in India itself we have a variety of people with severely impairing mental health issues. You do not get to know about disorders of the psychotic spectrum because it is still traumatising for people to even talk about anxiety or depression (which fall under the neurotic spectrum), which are manageable with the right treatment, by the way.

Why This Post?

This post is kind of a preface to what I intend to talk about in my upcoming post. As a result, the goal here is to clear up any confusion about these common terms.

Also, if you’re reading this post and understand the distinction between normal and abnormal, you, of all people, should not use the word “crazy” for any mental health patient. Even the ones who fall on the psychotic spectrum!

Check our post on The Myth And The Truth About Therapy

Why should you care about What’s Abnormal and normal?

Psychotic People
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Because we are living in challenging times, and more often than not, mild mental health issues can turn into severe ones if not spotted in the early stages. The client with moderate anxiety levels might develop chronic depression, or any other issue.

I do not mean to scare you! I am just sharing what I know and am seeing in my interactions with various mental health patients. Therefore, having an open mind, and giving mental health patients a supportive environment is not only humane but crucial.

We will talk more about the possible causes and course of prominent disorders some other time.


Any mental health issue does not become a disorder until it interferes with your normal everyday functioning.

If someone has a mental health disorder, ask what kind of spectrum does it fall under-neurotic or psychotic?

Neurotic patients understand their illness and can improve with proper therapy and, in some cases, therapy and medicine.

Psychotic patients usually lack insight into their illness and hence do not seek help on their own. The earlier their disorder is diagnosed by a professional, the better treatment they receive with the chances of reaching a level similar to what they were before the disorder (premorbid personality).

Just keep an open mind and give people the care and respect they deserve, especially the ones suffering from mentally health problems.

I will see you in the next blog post!