What are the Characteristics of Maladjustment?



The Maladjusted Person:

Mental illness, emotional instability, mental disorders, emotional disorders, personality disorders, behaviour disorders, psychological disorders-all these terms denote one and the same thing.

They are interchangeably used to describe what we call maladjustment. They denote conditions of tension and nervousness and the characteristic features of maladjustment and deviations in feelings, acting and thinking. The more serious the disorder, the more radical are the disturbances until a point is reached when the individual becomes almost incapable of adjusting to life.

The Adjusted Person:

Most people have to face frustrations conflicts and such situations as may cause concern, anxiety and nervousness at times. They are able to overcome their troubles and adjust themselves to such situations. But there are people who cannot overcome their troubles and cannot compromise with them.

They develop behaviour disorders in the form of exaggerated, persistent reactions which tend to incapacitate them and distort their feelings and behaviour. They are maladjusted persons. They create another world in which they can live more comfortably and with real life situations they are in gross disharmony.

Two distinct types of persons have been described above-the normal and the maladjusted. But it must be remembered that the distinction between the adjusted and the maladjusted is very subtle. The line between the two is very thin, for no person is completely adjusted. He is adjusted to a degree. A normal person may be emotionally hyperactive at times and he may be so depressed that he can hardly live with himself.

He may at times regress to childish behaviour and still be a normal man. A well-adjusted person maintains a favourable orientation towards reality. "His life is like a ship riding the waves. He may be swayed this way or that by wind or weather but he always returns to an even keel.

This even keel is his fundamental balance in life that enables him to withstand the thousands of disturbing stimuli which assail him and still keep his bearings and continue to move towards the goals he has set for himself."

The maladjusted child may either show nervousness or may exhibit emotional over-reactions and deviations or may be emotionally immature. His behaviour may be exhibitionistic or antisocial. He may be suffering from psychosomatic disturbances.

Many of the symptoms which are being detailed below may appear in normal children but whenever a combination of these symptoms appears frequently and consistently we should suspect maladjustment.


(1) Nervousness in the child is exhibited by habitual biting and wetting of lips, nail, biting, stammering, blushing, turning pale, constant restlessness, body rocking, nervous finger movements, frequent urination.

(2) The maladjusted child shows undue anxiety over mistakes, marked distress over failures, absent-mindedness, day-dreaming; he refuses to accept any recognition or reward, evades responsibility, withdraws from anything that looks new or difficult: he has lack of concentration, is unusually sensitive to all annoyances is suitable to work when distracted and has emotional tone in argument and feel hurt when others disagree; he makes frequent efforts to gain attention of the teacher. Such are the emotional over-reactions and deviations.

(3) The child, having emotional disorders, is unable to work alone, and rely on his own judgment; he is suffering from complexes; he is unusually self- conscious or over-critical of others, either too docile or too suggestive; such are his characteristic traits exhibiting his emotional in stability.

(4) The child who cannot adjust himself in the school environment shows exhibitionistic behaviour. He tends to tease, push and shove other pupils; he wants to be too funny or over-conspicuous; he is either found bluffing, or refusing to accept any lack of personal knowledge; he agrees markedly with whatever the teacher says or does and shows exaggerated courtesy.

(5) The maladjusted child has behaviour disorders which are generally seen in his antisocial behaviour. He is cruel to others, bullies them, uses obscene language, shows undue interest in sex, tells offensive stories, dislikes school work, resents authority, reacts badly to discipline, runs away from the class, and shows complete lack of interest in school work suddenly. He has psychosomatic disturbances also. When he is emotionally distressed, he begins to vomit or develops constipation and diarrhea or tends to overeat and shows other feeling disturbances.


Many of these symptoms may be seen in normal children but frequent occurrence of a number of these symptoms indicates that the child is mentally ill or maladjusted.

Traits that mark the maladjusted child are: Carelessness, Cheating, Cruelty, Destroying material, Disobedience, Domineering, Dreams, Enuresis, Fearfulness, Heterosexuality, Imaginative lying, Impertinence, Inquisitiveness, Interrupting, Masturbation, Profanity,

Obscene notes, Restlessness, Shyness, Silliness, Smoking, Stealing, Stubbornness, Suggestible sullenness, Suspiciousness, Tardiness, Taunting, Temper Tantrums, Thoughtlessness, Truancy, Unhappiness, Unreliability, Unsocial withdrawing, Untruthfulness, Whispering.