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When your loved one acts funny

05.04.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I always hear: “you can’t live like this”, “you’re not following the rules”, “be more like others already”. It irritates me a lot, I don’t understand why these rules even exist and why do I have to be like others. I do what I want and how I want, and take orders from no one.

Why do I have to live like a sheep with no personal opinion? Oh no, that isn’t gonna happen! You go to school, listen to your parents, enter a university, get married, go to work in the morning and go home in the evening, where you have a swarm of rugrats and a hysterical wife, you are deep in debt, with a 30-year mortgage, and you pretend to be happy. That lasts till your old age and then your life is over. Is that what you want me to be? No, play your own games. I work when I want, I rest when I want, I take money from those who have them. Why, the God himself told us to share! So I decide for myself what to do, not a president, parents or “normal people”.

You think I’m ashamed? Well I’m not! I can say what I want, do what I want and enjoy my life to the fullest, while you are stuck in your herds.”

— Петр, 35 лет

This story is a perfect example of a thought process specific to people with deviant behavior, one that deviates from social, moral and legal norms. Deviant, or asocial and inadequate behavior can be criminal or can manifest in other forms. For example, alcohol, drug and gaming addictions are also considered to be asocial modes of behavior. A person who breaks social rules always receives punishment for that, in form of isolation, treatment, compulsory correction etc.

Let’s find out what can we consider to be deviant behavior, why people adopt such inadequate mode, how to overcome this deviation yourself or help your loved one change.


  1. Forms of deviant behavior
  2. Signs of deviant behavior
  3. Causes of deviant behavior
  4. Preventing asocial behavior
  5. Correcting deviant behavior

Forms of deviant behavior

Forms of deviant behavior

It may sound strange, but deviation can be good and bad. For example, self-sacrifice, heroism, austerity, genius, high intelligence level are all manifestations of personality that go beyond social stereotypes and the idea of “normal”. However, people with such qualities are undeniably beneficial. It has already been proven that genius and mental deviations go hand in hand. A person with a healthy psyche is incapable of developing exceptional abilities and committing heroic deeds. [1]

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However, the situation with negative deviant behavior is a bit different. It includes the following manifestations:

  • psychological disorders;
  • alcohol addiction;
  • drug addiction
  • freeloading;
  • vagrancy;
  • engaging in prostitution;
  • gambling addiction;
  • psychological disorders;
  • suicide;
  • terrorism;
  • vandalism.

This list is not full, but you can already see that asocial behavior does not equal crime, and people displaying it are not a rare sight in our society.

Moreover, scientists are still arguing about the definition of deviation, and different schools of thought offer different approaches to distinguishing and correcting asocial behavior.

A famous psychiatrist Cesar Korolenko made a distinction between irregular and destructive behavior. [2] He offered his own classification of deviant behavior:

  1. Irregular behavior (actions that go beyond social stereotypes and benefit social development);
  2. Destructive behavior:
  • oriented outwards (breaking social norms):
    • addictive (use and abuse of certain substances or specific activities to escape reality and achieve desirable state),
    • antisocial (breaking the laws and infringing rights of other people);
  • oriented inwards (towards personal degradation: suicidal, conforming, narcissistic, bigoted, autistic thinking).

Signs of deviant behavior

Signs of deviant behavior

All deviations have common features that help us distinguish them from normal behavior:

  • They prompt negative reaction from the majority of people, the so-called social sanctions.
  • It severely affects other people, threatening their health, safety, property and even life. Or, it can be self-injurious behavior, which brings harm to the person themselves. Addictions are an example of this.
  • Deviation appears when it becomes a repeated, continuous pattern that manifests itself over a period of time.
  • Finally, an inadequate conduct is followed by social alienation, loss of ability to adapt to surrounding conditions. This means that a deviant person will behave in a same way regardless of the circumstances and surrounding. [7]

Moreover, deviations can be age and gender specific. Deviant behavior of men and women differs in a same way as deviant behavior of children and adults.

Causes of deviant behavior

There are three main groups of causes for inadequate behavior: biological, psychological and social. Let’s look at them in more detail.


In the XIX century an Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso postulated that deviant behavior may have genetic background. His statement covered mostly criminogenic tendencies. Currently, scientists consider chromosome anomalies in fetus development to be the biological causes of deviation. People with such disorder are inclined to display a behavior that deviates from social norms, as they themselves deviate from normal from birth. Such people can be recognized by peculiarities in their appearance. [3]


Some people are prone to asocial behavior due to their character and psychological features. [4]

Also, they can display psychological disorders, like neurasthenia and psychopathy, since childhood. Their nerve system gets easily agitated, which means that they are more likely to have inadequate reaction to external stimuli. For example, a psychopath can regularly resort to physical abuse without a grain of remorse. People with such disorders, surely, require a constant support from a therapist, as they are unable to change their behavior on their own, and general treatment will not work.

Another cause comes from person’s character. It gradually develops during our lifetime and can be affected by various factors, starting with our relationship with parents.

If the parents neglected and never expressed love to their child, that child will naturally become estranged from their relatives as a way to protect themselves. Such mode of behavior can then be applied to the rest of society. A person antagonizes themselves and other people, protests against established norms.

Moreover, a neglected child will most likely never develop a proper set of moral values. Even after reaching adulthood such people are prone to achieving their goals by any means possible, including violence and parasitic lifestyle.

Submissive and subservient people can also perform asocial actions. They can easily be made “evil” by promising imaginary profits. Such people become “infected” with deviation from their influential peers.


There are many social causes that prompt people to adopt asocial behavior. For example, a French sociologist Émile Durkheim proposed an anomy theory. According to it, intensive development of a society brings a shift to a system of values. This leads to a situation when the majority of society has not yet adapted to new cultural norms, while the old ones are not relevant anymore. A state of cultural vacuum created by this becomes a perfect medium for deviation. This happened, for example, in the 90ies in Russia after the fall of Soviet Union. [3]

Another cause for deviant behavior in adults comes from social, technological and natural cataclysms, including wars. They destroy human psyche and disorient the whole society. In such conditions people become more prone to committing crimes, especially because law enforcement authorities are more focused on eliminating the catastrophe.

Social inequality is one of the most prominent causes for deviant behavior. Sociologists have already said that crime levels drop as the state and country develop. The disposition to asocial behavior directly depends on the social standing of the person. Poor people have less opportunities to fulfill their basic needs, so in extreme situation a person can allow themselves to use immoral means to achieve their goals.

Also, children who live in social conditions where violence and other immoral actions are considered normal are more prone to develop deviant mode of behavior. Social environment plays a great role in human development.

Preventing asocial behavior

It is best to work on preventing deviations on multiple levels: family, social and state. Let’s see what can be done at each of those.

On family level

It is more efficient to work on preventing deviations at young age. It has already been proven that people who commit crimes had necessary background since childhood.

Ideally, parents should pay a lot of attention to their child, carefully listen to them, communicate with them, notice any deviations in their behavior, know their friends and teach the children about social norms. They should also set an example of proper behavior themselves, never raising a hand on their child, or that child will develop a mindset that violence is normal. It is important to help a child develop understanding of boundaries and the ability to control their actions.

Schools can also arrange classes on preventing addictions and other antisocial behavior. [5]

On state level

Ideally, state should also work on preventing deviations. Amount of people with asocial behavior directly depends on the social well-being. If the state supports low-income families, provides equal access to education and healthcare, supports the elderly and provides workplaces, then the crime levels go down, people are less prone to addictions, and the overall morale improves.

On society level

Finally, we should note that society itself can properly regulate itself. The point is, human activity is not expressed in a society in a whole, but rather in its smaller parts, like family, work or school circle, among friends etc. Each of these groups has its own unspoken rules which a person must accept if they wish to be a part of it. For example, small nations and communities display lower level of deviation than big cities. One important aspect of this is that all people in such community know and depend on each other, which is why all members need to feel that they belong to their people.

The same thing happens in subcultures, from youth subcultures to more serious ones, like scientific or business societies. Their members share the same values, understanding of what is wrong and what is right, as well as the idea of their exclusiveness, in a good sense of course. After all, in order to become a part of a subculture, a person must already have a certain set of values, knowledge and connections. A person who treasures their affiliation with such “elite” circle, will likely not go against its values. [6]

Correcting deviant behavior

Different manifestations of antisocial behavior require different approaches. The most severe ones are treated by psychiatrists. However, even at the early stages a person can help themselves, if they realize the problem and decide to solve it.

If you notice that your friend or relative shows signs of deviant behavior, you should recommend treatment as soon as possible, before the problem goes beyond the limits. One of the ways to correct deviant behavior is a 7Spsy behavior modification technique

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The reasons for asocial behavior are hidden in a person’s subconsciousness, in their mindset. For example, “I have the right to do so” or “this is the only way to achieve my goals”. In other words, deviation is a mindset, which means that in order to correct such behavior you should change the mindset first. This is what 7Spsy is focused on. The course is designed to be taken remotely. Our method will help you figure out the causes for asocial behavior and change your mindset to a more positive one. In just 2-6 weeks you will master a healthy mode of behavior, stop bothering others and learn proper conduct depending on a situation.


  1. Can a mental disorder be a sign of genius (https://med.vesti.ru/articles/psihologiya/mozhet-li-psihicheskoe-rasstrojstvo-byt-priznakom-genialnosti/)
  2. Korolenko Ts. P., Donskikh T. A. “Seven paths to disaster: Destructive behavior in the modern world”.
  3. Deviant behavior. Social control http://www.grandars.ru/college/sociologiya/deviantnoe-povedenie.html
  4. Deviant behavior http://www.psyhodic.ru/arc.php?page=4732
  5. Prevention of deviant behavior of adolescents https://psychologyc.ru/profilaktika-deviantnogo-povedeniya-postkovdro/
  6. Prevention of deviations and social self-organization https://studme.org/39244/sotsiologiya/profilaktika_deviatsiy_sotsialnaya_samoorganizatsiya
  7. A.G. Tereshchenko, N.G. Vasiliev Features of social conditionality of deviant and delinquent behavior https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/osobennosti-sotsialnoy-obuslovlennosti-deviantnogo-i-delikventnogo-povedeniya