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Definitions of Abnormality

Abnormality is extremely difficult to define because abnormal behaviour because
normal behaviour has changed over the years and changes throughout cultures, which
means that what is abnormal also changes.

There are 3 definitions of Abnormality...

Deviation from Social Norms ­ This is when someone is deviant…

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Strengths ­

This is the only definition which focuses on positive rather than negative aspects.

Weaknesses ­

It's impossible to meet all these criteria and it's unclear how many someone has
to meet before they're abnormal.
Everyone has bad days where they don't meet the criteria, so most people would…

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The Biological Approach to Abnormality

This approach believes that abnormality is the result of malfunctioning systems and
treatments should repair this e.g. drugs. It's the most widely accepted approach
because it treats mental illness as a physical condition.

Some biological causes for abnormality include...

Genes ­ genes determine the levels…

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Antipsychotics ­ block the action of dopamine, by binding to but not stimulating
dopamine receptors.
Anti­anxiety Drugs ­ Betablockers ­ reduce the activity of adrenaline and
noradrenalin in the body's response to stress making the person feel calmer.
Antidepressant Drugs ­ increase serotonin.

Strengths ­

Drugs are extremely easy to…

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The Behavioural Approach to Abnormality

Behaviourists argue that all behaviour is learnt. They believe there is no need to search
the mind and analyse feelings. Treatments involve learning new behaviours through
conditioning or unlearning maladaptive behaviour.
Behaviour is learnt in 3 ways...

Classical Conditioning (learning by association) ­ If we…

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Treatments of Abnormality ­ Behavioural Approach

Treatments involve learning new behaviours or unlearning maladaptive behaviours. This
approach uses systematic desensitization to get rid of the fear response and replace
it with relaxation by systematically making the person immune to their fear gradually. It's
called counter conditioning.

There are 3 steps:…

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The Cognitive Approach to Abnormality

The cognitive approach states that mental disorders are the fault of faulty and irrational
thinking. Therapies try to change how people think about themselves and see the world.
The focus isn't the problem it's self but how the person thinks about the problem.

Ellis ­…

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Treatments of Abnormality ­ Cognitive Approach

Cognitive behavioural therapies such as REBT (rational emotive behaviour therapy) are
based on the idea that many problems are the result of irrational thinking.

Ellis ­ developed REBT. It aims to replace irrational thoughts with rational ones and
involves several stages.

A good relationship…

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The Psychodynamic Approach to Abnormality

The psychodynamic approach to abnormality sees abnormal behaviour as being
caused by underlying psychological forces that the individual is unaware of such a
traumatic childhood experiences or conflict between the ID and superego. This
approach was created by Freud.

A well adjusted person develops a…

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Dream Analysis

The therapist then interprets this behaviour and explains possible causes for the
problem. The patient and therapist then go over the issues and try and understand the
cause together.

Strengths ­

80% of the 10,000 patients he reviewed found it was an effective treatment
Found it was…


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