Psychopathology is a polysemic term. in one very general sense it refers to the study of mental disorder, mental distress, and abnormal/maladaptive behavior. in this context the term is most commonly used within psychiatry where pathology refers to disease processes. abnormal psychology is a similar term used more frequently in the non-medical field of psychology. another very general use of the term is to refer to mental symtoms (e.g.