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Definition: Maladaptive behaviours refer to types of behaviours that inhibit a persons ability to adjust to particular situations.

This type of behaviour is often used to reduce ones anxiety, but the result is dysfunctional and non-productive. For example, avoiding situations because you have unrealistic fears may initially reduce your anxiety, but it is non-productive in alleviating the actual problem in the long term. Non-adaptive behaviors would be: behaviors which do not result in a good outcome. For instance yelling at a guy who tries to grab you on the street is adaptive behavior. However when a person uses that same behavior in several contexts that do not fit, such as yelling at your teacher at school or yelling at your parents instead of talking, we would say that the behavior has become mal-adaptive. A maladaptive behavior is a behavior or trait that is not adaptive it is counterproductive to the individual. Maladaptivity is frequently used as an indicator of abnormality or mental dysfunction, since its assessment is relatively free from subjectivity. The individual has the inability to reach goals or adapt to the demands of life and it interferes, disrupts social group functioning. Maladaptive behavior refers to types of behaviors that inhibit a persons ability to adjust to particular situations. Sometimes, people who do not feel confident in meeting the challenges that come their way in life develop maladaptive behavior to reduce their anxiety.Unfortunately, this almost never works out well. Avoiding situations because of unrealistic fears may initially reduce anxiety, but this avoidance is just that: it does not solve the actual problems. Eventually, problems can become so big that the pain of avoiding them is overwhelming. They can no longer be ignored. A common type of maladaptive behavior is turning to alcohol or drugs for refuge instead of working to address a challenge. In the beginning, these substances create the impression for their abusers that they are escaping their problems, but this is only a temporary reprieve. They are actually making things much worse, and they risk falling into addiction. Some of these people may have an undiagnosed mental health condition such as depression or anxiety disorder, and this is referred to as selfmedication.Whatever the underlying cause, as time passes the damage caused by the substance abuse outweighs any benefits that people exhibiting this maladaptive behavior may be getting. These people often do not recognize this. Sadly, by the time they escape their denial they will already be addicted to these substances. Maladaptive Behavior types of behaviors that inhibit a persons ability to adjust to situations. Maladaptive behaviors in students can appear in countless ways. Some categories and examples are explained below. This list is not exhaustive.

Stereotypical Behavior repetitive movement, posture or utterance. Examples:


handplay rocking echolalia (repeating words or phrases)

Ritualistic Behavior an attempt to regulate something concrete and controllable because the person cannot identify and control a problem - often manifests in compulsive behavioral. Self-Injurious Behavior any behavior that can cause damage to the individual. Examples:

head banging self biting scratching pica (consumption of inedible items)

Tantrums a combination of two or more maladaptive behaviors. Examples:


screaming crying dropping to the ground

Aggression an act of violence to another person or object. Examples:


hitting kicking biting slapping pinching grabbing pushing

Transition Difficulties some students become easily upset when asked to transition to a new area or task. Running/Darting running out of the classroom, away from the area, or away from adults. Compliance/Following Directions/Opposition lack of cooperation with instructions/demands.

Verbally Inappropriate Behavior disruptive to classroom, peers or individual learning/success. Examples:


name calling swearing screaming whining crying

Maladaptive behavior, can be summarized as the inability of a person to adjust to a certain situation. For example someone might avoid crowds because of social phobia, but in the end, it is not necessarily a technique that will help them overcome this problem. Gambling is an example of maladaptive behavior. Gambling is not a problem if a person bets small amounts for entertainment and maintaining self control. However, compulsive gambling is a sign of psychopathology. Freud did not recognize that individuals acquire maladaptive behavior through experience. It was a function of internal dynamics - See more at: http://www.chacha.com/question/what-is-freuds-view-of-maladaptivebehavior#sthash.XycQnqYt.dpuf

Maladaptive Behaviors to Stress/Anxiety


Adaptive behaviors are developed to help living things survive and progress. They are positive responses to stimuli (such as a plant leaning toward light). Maladaptive behaviors aren't positive in that they aren't positive and undertaken to increase chances of survival. Maladaptive behaviors in response to stress or anxiety might include: nervousness, excessive worrying, sleeplessness, changes in eating habits, lowered immune response, fatigue, tension, head and body aches, a racing mind, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, etc. Anxiety is a severe state of stress and its symptoms that last for 6 or more months that may or may not be triggered by specific stimuli and may or may not be permanently affecting of life style. Anxiety is a very common disorder in America affecting slightly more women than men. In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defence mechanisms (or defense mechanisms) are psychological strategies brought into play by the unconscious mind[1] to manipulate, deny or distort reality (through processes including, but not limited to, repression, identification, or rationalization),[2] to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses to maintain one's self schema.[3] Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its

persistent use leads to maladaptive behaviour such that the physical or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety and/or social sanctions and/or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.[4] Defence mechanisms are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses.[5] Defence mechanisms are sometimes confused with coping strategies.[6] One resource used to evaluate these mechanisms is the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ-40).[7][8]