What is Abnormal Psychology?

Abnormal psychology represents a unique area of exploration into the human mind and behavior system. What exactly is this sub-field of psychological study all about? Here’s the scoop on this important and often very eye-opening study of the mind.

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A Unique Sub-Field

Abnormal psychology, as its name suggests, is the specific study of abnormal patterns and operating methodologies within the human mind. In this sense, “abnormal” is a reference to many rather severe and uncommon deviations from what is usually observed in human behavior and psyche. Abnormal psychology is thus its own very important sub-field in psychology and the only such one to delve into these areas of difference with such specialty.

Beyond this explanation, however, one can really better start to understand this field of study by taking a look at some specific examples of the kinds of abnormal psychology studied by this specialized branch of psychology. The following represent some key examples of the types of conditions studied and otherwise worked with in the field.


Schizophrenia is a rather severe psychological condition in which the sufferer may experience a whole host of effects such as the perception of illusions and hallucinations, the use of inappropriate behaviors, a lack of appropriate emotions, and generally disordered thinking processes. Sufferers of this condition can, fortunately, see some relief courtesy of a variety of treatment options, but generally, this is a long-term condition. Genetics also have a great deal to do with the manifestation of this condition.

Anxiety Disorders

There are many types of anxiety disorders, and most of them are categorized as components of the greater category of abnormal psychology. With these disorders, the sufferer feels debilitating anxiety beyond what a typical person will experience. WebMD groups this kind of disorder into four, main types: panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Dissociative Disorder

Dissociative disorder is described as a strong disconnection between a person and their situation and/or environment. This disorder can be developed in response to traumatic events as a way to psychologically escape reality, or it may be a sign of greater patterns at work. The Mayo Clinic lists three, specific types of dissociative disorder: dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder, and depersonalization-derealization disorder.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders represent yet another manifestation area of abnormal psychology, this time with which a wide variety of inherited and non-inherited disorders specifically affect the neurodevelopmental systems of the brain. Some examples of these kinds of conditions include attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. As these conditions can be quite complex in nature, many of them are not readily alleviated via any conclusive cures as of yet.

In the field of psychology, there are many sub-fields that the greater field branches off into for further study and specialization. Abnormal psychology is just one of those particular, off-shooting study areas in the field right now. In conclusion, the American Psychological Association is a leading resource that readers can follow up with on all things related to abnormal psychology and all other forms of psychology studied today.