Assessing and diagnosing abnormality is extremely important for the treatment of mental disorders and involves examining symptoms and their causes in order to group these symptoms together into a diagnosis of the problem. This is obviously a very important aspect of abnormal psychology, as conditions can be diagnosed and further researched in order to develop treatments for individuals sufferring from the disorder.
Assessments used in abnormal psychology include measurements of biological functioning, cognitive functioning, emotional regulation, personality, and social functioning. Information can be collected and assessed by examining symptoms and history of the individual, including onset of the symptoms and any environmental or psychological factors that may have occurred throughout their life. Then, information can be assessed in more depth through clinical interviews or through an assortment of tests, including personality tests, intelligence tests, brain imaging techniques, and questionnaires to determine symptomatology. Behavioural tests and self-monitoring using methods such as a journal can also be used.
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Diagnosis is then determined based on the results of these assessments and used to treat the individual. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the most widely used classification of symptoms and disorders; however, while it is beneficial to diagnose someone with a disorder in order to treat them and provide consistency among health care providers and research, it can cause difficulties in assessment/diagnosis, including stigmatization within society. Furthermore, diagnoses may not take into consideration cultural differences.