Psychological disorder

First, consider the following description of a child named Al.

Al was the first-born child of parents who would remain married throughout his

childhood. Al was still not talking by the age of three. At the age of four or five, Al’s

father gave him a magnetic compass while Al was sick in bed. Al became obsessed

with the compass and discussed it as though it had changed his life. At age twelve,

he became obsessed with a book on Euclidean geometry and referred to it as “the

old geometry booklet.”

Al was a loner, preferring to keep to himself; instead of playing with other children,

for example, he would spend hours building houses of cards up to 14 stories high.

In older childhood, he had the habit of sitting quietly, talking to himself, often

muttering the same words repeatedly.

Although he did well in school, he seemed to hate it. He acknowledged that he had a

poor memory for words and that he had trouble concentrating on subjects that did

not interest him. Because of the poor attitude he had towards school and his

teachers, he was eventually asked to transfer to another school. At the age of fifteen

his family moved to another country, leaving Al behind to complete his schooling.

He was so miserable and lonely, however, that he soon dropped out of school and

rejoined his family. He did not immediately enroll at another school.

Use this scenario to discuss the distinction between normal and abnormal


Begin by identifying the ways in which little Al’s behavior captures the three

defining characteristics of a psychological disorder: deviance, distress, and

dysfunction. Based on these characteristics, would you determine that Al has a

psychological disorder? Explain. If you like, even if we haven’t discussed the

disorder you have in mind, feel free to apply one or more that you think might fit.

Next, whether or not you see little Al as having a psychological disorder, remark on

what you might do to help him. Should you send him to a mental health

professional? Or, perhaps, you might choose to wait things out? Or maybe you have

something else in mind? Again, explain. In your answer, be sure to comment on how

applying a diagnostic label and stigmatization might affect what you decide to do or

not do.

Finally, given what you know about little Al, how do you see his future? Do you think

he’ll find success in life, or continue to struggle even throughout adulthood? Again,





Sample Solution