Defintions, models and therapies

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  • Created on: 20-05-10 18:40
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Definition 1: Deviation from social norms
Society develops rules as to what is 'normal'. This includes dress, speech and eating.
If this behaviour deviates/differs significantly, it is considered 'abnormal'.
E.g. wearing clothes in public is normal whereas wearing no clothes is abnormal.
Norms change over time (homosexuality); Szasz claimed the concept of mental illness was simply
a way to exclude nonconformists from society.
Deviance is related to context and degree; e.g. few clothes is acceptable at the beach but not at
a formal event; being rude is not considered abnormal unless it is excessive.
Cultural relativism: social norms are determined by culture and therefore deviation from social
norms (abnormality) is relative to culture. Behaviour patterns are sometimes classified as 'culture
bound syndromes meaning that they are abnormal in some cultures but normal in others.
Definition 2: Failure to function adequately
This focuses on how someone functions/copes with life. This includes personal hygiene,
motivation and organisation.
Therefore FFA is considered abnormal.
FFA is measured on the GAF scale. GAF band 1-10 is a persistent danger of severely hurting
self/others or persistent inability to maintain personal hygiene or serious suicidal act with clear
expectation of death. GAF band 90-100 is superior functioning in a wide range of activities, life's
problems never seem to get out of hand, is sought out by others because of his or her many
positive qualities.
Somebody has to decide whether a patient is in fact failing to function adequately' and that
decision can often depend on who is making it.
Some apparently dysfunctional behaviour can actually be adaptive and functional for the individual;
e.g. some people make a living out of cross-dressing but transvestism is in the list of mental
Cultural relativism: functioning adequately varies with culture. The way a person lives their life in
one culture may be normal, whereas in another it may be abnormal.
Definition 3: Deviation from ideal mental health
Ideal mental health was defined by Marie Jahoda as:
- social attitudes - high self esteem
- personal growth - develops full capability
- integration - copes with stressful situations
- autonomy - independent
- accurate perception of reality
- mastery of environment - include love, work and relations
Jahoda said that significant deviation from these categories is abnormal and can potentially lead
to mental health problems.
It is not clear how much a person must deviate from these criteria to be considered abnormal.
This only looks at signs of mental health, and does not look for signs of mental illness.
Cultural relativism: many of the criteria are culture bound. E.g. personal growth is relevant to
members of individualistic cultures (which values independence and the importance of the
individual) but not for collectivist cultures (where individuals strive for the greater good of the
community rather than for self-centred goals).

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The Biological Model
Main assumption: Psychological disorders are caused by changes in the body, usually the brain.
Genetics: Mental disorders are inherited from parent to offspring. Torrey believed that
schizophrenia is caused by a flu virus that is passed from mother to offspring during pregnancy,
and is activated during puberty when it is combined with hormones.
Viruses: Viruses can affect the brain in a way that can cause mental disorders.…read more

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Highlights importance of childhood on Gender bias - the idea that men/male
emotional development thinking is superior and therefore women
were expected women to be unstable and
irrational (not applicable to modern times)
Abstract concepts
Therapy looks backwards - doesn't focus on
current problems
Involves blame and guilt
Developed theory by case studies - not
representative of whole population (lacks
ecological validity)
The Behavioural Model
Main assumption: All behaviour is learnt, both normal and abnormal.…read more

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The Cognitive Model
Main assumption: Behaviour is a result of faulty thinking.
Computer: The brain is like a computer: the information is the input, the processing is thinking
and the output is behaviour
Schema: Packet of information related to an object or idea. E.g. normal schema of a dog: eat,
cuddly, playful, sleep; faulty schema of a dog: bark, bite, viscous, rabies
ABC: Activating event causes beliefs resulting in consequences (emotions and behaviour)
Cognitive biases: Tendency to think in a certain way that is unhelpful.…read more

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No evidence it improved specific symptoms
Caused patients to lose basic skills such as talking and ability to show emotion
Damage is irreversible and unpredictable
Electroconvulsive Therapy (E.C.T.…read more

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Requires less effort for the patient than some other treatments
Effective in 75% of cases of patients with phobias
May cause other symptoms in place of `cured' symptoms (although no proof of this)
Less effective with phobias that have an underlying evolutionary component (e.g. fear of
dangerous animals)
Patient is presented with worst situation for a length of time. E.g.…read more


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