Abnormal Behavior

Abnormal behavior is behavior that is outside of what is generally considered normal. However, to label behavior as abnormal is not as easy as it seems. Professionally, it requires an examination of age, gender, and ethnicity of the subject being evaluated. It is frequently stated that "sane" and "insane" persons generally engage in the same behaviors and it is more a matter of how much and how often different behaviors are engaged in. Another consideration is typically if the behavior is harmful to the individual or others and whether or not it causes problems in their personal lives.

Agewise, adolescence can almost be considered a "psychotic" phase of life because of the rapid changes of mood, interests, activities, and relationships coupled with a lack of foresight and consideration of consequences. Many teenagers will score high on psychopathy measures because of their high levels of some of these traits which disappear once they become adults. For this reason, behavior that could be considered normal for a teenager could be abnormal for an adult. Behaviorally, for instance, it is considered normal to have sex periodically with a consenting partner; however, to be constantly and compulsively seeking sex with strangers is abnormal. Some types of behavior are considered normal within a cultural context but would be considered abnormal in other contexts. For example, hearing voices" and responding to their directions is seen in some cultures as a sign of holiness while other cultures consider hearing voices to be psychotic and dangerous.

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