Abnormal Psychology: Types, Importance, Books, Colleges, Scope 

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Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal Psychology is a branch of psychology that is concerned with the study of psychopathology and abnormal behavior. It is referred to in a clinical context and covers a range of disorders such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder among others. Counselors, psychotherapists, and clinical psychologists are the people who study abnormal psychology. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of abnormal psychology, books, and types. colleges, and future scope.


What is Abnormal Psychology?

Abnormal psychology is about the study of patterns of behavior, emotion or thought that can be signs of a mental health condition. Psychologists focus on the amount of distress caused by such behavior, thoughts, or emotions rather than the difference between normal and abnormal. For example, a behavior that is significantly disrupting a person’s life or is disruptive to others is considered an ‘abnormal’ behavior. Such cases require mental health intervention.

Defining Abnormality

Abnormality is defined as a behavior that causes significant distress in a person’s life. Such behavior affects a person’s ability to function and can be socially disruptive and infrequent.

Significance of Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal Psychology is significant in many ways. 

  • Understanding mental disorders and their effective treatment has been possible.
  • The increase in understanding has resulted in psychologist helping people overcome impairment, relieve distress, and restore functioning.

Must Read –100 Psychology Facts You Must Know!

Types of Abnormal Psychology

The Diagnostic of Statistical Mental Disorders (DSM) lists 10 types of psychological disorders. Below we have listed the main types of abnormal psychology or disorders.

Mental health disordersDescriptionExamples
Anxiety disorder Developed in people who have experienced shocking, scary, or dangerous events. It causes nightmares, flashbacks, or avoidance of situationsThinking that you are being harmed or harassed, or you have exceptional ability or fame
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Causes obsessions and compulsions. An obsession is defined as a recurring thought and compulsion is a repetitive behavior that follows the obsessionAn obsession can be fear of germs or contamination and a compulsion can be excessive cleaning.
Causes frequent intense excessive worry, and fear, about everyday situationsCauses marked disruptions in emotions such as extremely low mood and high moodGeneralized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, etc
Mood disordersFor example, bipolar disorder, major depression, cyclothymia, etcParanoid personality disorder, Schizoid personality disorder, borderline personality disorder 
Personality disordersHaving a rigid or unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning, and behavingHear a car backfire and relive combat experiences 
SchizophreniaCauses delusions, hallucinations, disorganized motor behavior, and disorganized thinking in peopleInability to control the use of substances such as alcohol, illegal or legal drugs, or medications
Delusional disordersWhen a person can’t distinguish between what is real and what is not.Jealous- a person might think that their partner is unfaithful without concrete evidence
Substance Use disordersHaving the urge to set fires or taking things that do not belong to themBeing unable to control or reduce alcohol intake
Dissociative disordersIt involves a person experiencing disconnection between thoughts, memories, surroundings, and even identity.A person ‘switches’ from one personality to another
Impulse control disordersHaving impulses that are difficult or impossible to controlHaving an urge to set fires or taking things that do not belong to them

Abnormal Psychology Courses 

To study abnormal psychology students pursue either BSc in Psychology or BA in Psychology.  Some of the main courses that are included in the Bachelor’s of abnormal psychology are as follows.

Human sexuality
Developmental Psychology
Child Psychology
Social Psychology
Experimental Psychology

Must Read- BSc psychology syllabus

Top Universities 

Here is a list of the best universities that students can choose.

S.No.University Name QS Ranking 2023
1Harvard University1
2Stanford University2
3University of Oxford 3
4University of Cambridge4
5University of California, Berkeley5
6University of California, Los Angeles 6
8Yale University8
9University of Amsterdam 9

Best Books

Below are the best books that you can refer to prepare for abnormal psychology.

Books Author 
Abnormal Psychology -custom editionJames N. Butcher, Susan Mineka, Jill M. Hooley
Abnormal Psychology an integrative approachDavid H. Barlow and V. Mark Durand
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And OthersBruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz
Fundamentals of Abnormal PsychologyRonald J. Comer
Abnormal Psychology: The Science and TreatmentAnn Kring and Sheri L. Johnson

Jobs and Salary

Below is a list of jobs that students of abnormal psychology can take up. The salaries of these careers are also provided.

JobsUSA Salary  per annum
Clinical psychologist$109,754 / INR 90.18 lakh
psychiatrist$ 268,028/2.2 cr
Counseling Psychologist$79,820 /65.58 lakh
Forensic Psychologist$74805/61.45 lakh

Future Scope 

Students can pursue higher education in this discipline. Moreover, students can also apply for several job opportunities. Abnormal psychologists can work as psychiatrists, Industrial Organizational psychologists, Neuropsychologists, Engineering Psychologists, Clinical psychologists, Counseling psychologists, School psychologists, and Forensic psychologists, among others. Such careers are valuable and high paying as well.

Must Read: Career in Psychology


Q.1. What are the 4 types of abnormality psychology?

Ans: Abnormal psychology is divided into biological, behavioral, cognitive, and psychodynamic. These are the perspectives on abnormal psychology.

Q.2. How did the study of abnormal psychology originate?

Ans: The study of abnormal psychology originated in ancient Greece. Later on, thinkers such as Sigmund Freud (1800s-1900s) suggested that mental health can be treated with the help of several ways such as talk therapy.

Q.3. What are some examples of abnormal?

Ans: Some examples of abnormal include Anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, and Bipolar disorders.

Abnormal Psychology is a branch of Psychology that deals with what is referred to as ‘abnormal’ behavior. It is a significant branch of psychology as it has increased the understanding of mental health disorders and has resulted in efficient treatment of those who suffer from it. There are different types of abnormal psychology. Some of the best universities where you can gain knowledge of abnormal psychology are Harvard University, MIT, and Stanford. To discover more articles like this one, visit the study abroad experts at Leverage Edu.

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