Abnormal psychology is the psychology’s division that studies individuals who are atypical or abnormal in comparison to members of a particular society. Research shows that some psychological disorders are more prevalent than was previously determined. According to the study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, depending on the process of data collection and diagnoses, as many as twenty-seven percent of certain population groups are in a position of depression at any time (NIMH, 2001). Abnormal behavior refers to the demeanor that is maladaptive, distressing, socially unacceptable and is often the result of distorted thoughts or cognitions. The description of abnormal demeanor may be quite concise. However, application of abnormal behavior poses a difficult challenge. What is normal, in which culture does it apply, at what age does it begin? These are some of the questions that underline its application to psychology. The truth is that the concept of abnormality is not precise and is difficult to describe. Opposed to our perception of what is normal, there are many discordant ways of defining ‘abnormal’ and the forms that it takes. In this regard, psychologists have made efforts to explain abnormal behavior in different perspectives such as the medical viewpoint, the behavioral perspective, the psychodynamic perspective and the cognitive perspective. The cognitive perspective and consequent cognitive behavior therapy are effective in causing behavior change from abnormal to normal as will be seen in the paper’s analysis of the behavioral and cognitive perspectives.
The cognitive perspective is based on the assumption that an individual’s thoughts are responsible for his or her behavior. Cognitive theorists usually explore how an individual’s reality is colored by his or her attitudes, expectations and so forth, as well as, how the biased or inaccurate processing of information regarding the world can lead to abnormal behavior. Basically, the human emotional state is not determined by the events in life; rather, it is determined by how the person interprets these events. One can argue that according to the cognitive perspective, the root of abnormal behavior is faulty thought processes that take the form of negative expectations of the future, negative perceptions of oneself and an unrealistic and distorted perception of the world. The cognitive perspective has the following basic assumptions: