Controversial Topics in Abnormal Psychology


In a vast, diverse and unique world like ours, there is very little possibility of having unanimity. Unless the context is human rights, freedom of speech and basic rights, duties and liberties, there is seldom any unanimity or even consensus. There is no consensus on morality as well. Different people have entirely different takes on moral rights and wrongs as well.

When there is hardly any unanimity or consensus on relatively non-contentious issues, there will be controversies. And when there can be controversies in non-contentious issues, imagine what kind of controversies you may have when you take into account something like psychology. If psychology was not controversial enough as a subject, there are some topics in abnormal psychology that can have the entire world divided, not just in two groups but in multiple groups.

There are numerous controversial topics in abnormal psychology. Among these controversial topics in abnormal psychology, you need to discount those that are the opinions of those who do not really count psychology as a discipline. There are people who do not regard that psychology has a role to play in a person’s life. Many simply do not but the idea of studying a person’s mind and its inner functioning. They reject the proposition that someone’s psychology can be understood, studied or altered. But there are many who actually believe in psychology but just not in everything it the discipline propagates.

Here are some controversial topics in abnormal psychology which are contemporary and relevant.

• Is homosexuality a psychological condition?
• Should attempts be made to correct it?
• Negativity surrounding homosexuality – is it justified or is it just the typical fear and disgust for the minority and lesser known public mentality?

There are people who believe that homosexuality is a matter of preference or choice. Some believe that it is some clever work of the mind. There is no proof yet that can indicate or infer in either favor.

• Can divorce have any positive impact in children? If yes, then under what circumstances?

There can be enough contentious arguments pertaining to this as well. There are people who truly believe that divorce can have a positive impact in children and they have lived such lives but there are people who simply don’t buy that argument or even case studies.

• Ethics surrounding development and administration of cognition enhancing drugs.

Who decides if a person needs cognition enhancing drugs? If the person has poor cognitive skills and cannot make a decision for himself or herself then he or she is in anyway not in a position to take a call and make a move. That is one argument. But being parents or loved ones of a person who has poor cognitive skills, can they let the loved one suffer?

This argument is similar to euthanasia which still and will always have the world divided in its favor or against. Here are some more controversial topics in abnormal psychology.

• Validity of diagnosis based upon DSM criteria.
• Education and intelligence – when a student has difficulty learning, is it the student’s fault, the teacher’s fault or is the entire teaching system inappropriate and archaic?
• Graphic violence in video games.
• Adult content in cartoons and animes.
• Ethics of the Milgram experiment.
• Ethics surrounding the Stanford prison experiment.
• Fetishes and sexually deviant behaviour.
• Negative parenting and their effects on child psychology.
• Are sociopaths a result of bad parenting?
• Workplace psychology of ex-felons.
• Child abuse – psychological profile of a typical perpetrator.
• Child sexual abuse – where a parent is the perpetrator.
• Exposure to television and their effects on the emotional and intellectual development of children.
• Self mutilation for coping.
• Crime as a justification for coping with past trauma – how justified is it?
• Hypnotherapy and past life regression therapy – clinical hocus-pocus or science?
• Parapsychology and paranormal phenomenon – are they grounded in reality?
• Alternative reality – is it they who are drugged or is it us?
• Internet addiction.
• Social networks, online dating and their psychological impact on teenagers.
• Having a child – is social pressure a more dominant determinant than individual willingness?

It would be difficult, almost impossible to have people agree on one inference. Even psychology itself leaves room for counter arguments. There is nothing definitive. Things may change, perspectives may change and evolution can add further fuel to any controversy that already exists. Many psychological approaches have become obsolete and like everything else, psychology itself evolves and so should the study of psychology.

In psychology, everything matters. What you believe and what others believes, what is believed generally to be righteous and what is scientifically right, everything becomes a bone of contention and a controversy is born.