Abnormal psychology studies two types of behaviors: adaptive and maladaptive. Behaviors that are maladaptive suggest that a problem or problems exist, and can also imply that the individual is vulnerable and cannot cope with environmental stress, which is causing the person to have problems functioning in daily life.
Clinical psychology is the applied field of psychology that attempts to assess, understand and treat psychological conditions in clinical practice. The theoretical field known as ‘abnormal psychology’ may form a backdrop to such work, but clinical psychologists in the field are unlikely to use the term ‘abnormal’ in reference to their practice. Psychopathology is a term similar to abnormal psychology but has more of an implication of an underlying disease process, and as such is a term more commonly used in the medical specialty known as psychiatry.
For millenniums people have tried to explain and control abnormal behavior. Over the centuries, there have been three main approaches to abnormal behavior: the supernatural, biological, and psychological traditions. Abnormal psychology revolves around two major paradigms for explaining mental disorders, the psychological paradigm and the biological paradigm. The psychological paradigm focuses more on the humanistic, cognitive and behavioral causes and effects of psychopathology. The biological paradigm includes the theories that focus more on physical factors, such as genetics and neurochemistry.