Abnormality, AS Psychology unit 2 exam


Talks about the three abnormality definitions, biological approach + psychodynamic approach

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Individual differences ­ psychopathology (abnormality)
Defining and explaining psychological abnormality
Definitions of abnormality
The term "abnormal" means deviating from the average (norm).
Deviating means moving away from the norm.
E.g.: any rare behaviour or ability is seen as abnormal ­ unless we become more aware of it.
3 Definitions
Deviation from social norms
Failure to function adequately
Deviation from ideal mental health
Deviation from Social norms
Social norms: Are the explicit and implicit rules that a society has about what are acceptable
behaviours, values and beliefs.
Every society sets up rules for behaviour based on a set of moral standards.
Anyone who deviates from this is considered abnormal.
These standards are set by society and show what is expected
Behaviour is considered okay if it is social accepted.
Explicit rules (laws) are open. E.g.- school rules
Implicit rules (unspoken) ­ do not always discuss but it's wrong. E.g. British habit of queuing in
shops ­ if you push in the queue you know it is wrong.
Deviation from social norms can be a useful way to identify mental problems.
We learn to expect from individuals and if their behaviour drastically deviates from this, we
become concerned on their behalf.
In many cases this can be clear cut, such as the patient with schizophrenia who reports
hearing voices, or the person with OCD who washes their hands 50 times a day. This definition
can provide an indication of disordered behaviour.
Some people may do behaviours that seem abnormal or eccentric (odd). Behaviour that
deviates from social norms does not mean the person is abnormal. E.g.: May see a man
dressed up in a banana and think he is weird, however if you found he was going to a fancy
dress party then this would be considered normal.
Evaluation ­ Deviation from social norms

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Behaviour that deviates from social norms is not always a sign of psychopathology. You may
see a man riding a bike naked; this looks like a deviation from social norms, but then you
realise they are doing this for charity. Some behaviours are taken out of context
depending on the situations, such as if someone was acting eccentric would they be classed
as abnormal.…read more

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Evaluation ­ failure to function adequately
These indicators are useful in determining whether someone has a psychological
abnormality. They would enable to a decision about whether clinical intervention may be
Cochrane and sashidharan (1995) ­ points out that racism and prejudice have a significant
impact upon psychological issues.
There is a cultural dimension to FFA. Standard patterns of behaviour will vary from
culture to culture, so failing to function adequately may look very different depending
upon which culture you are in.…read more

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Evaluation ­ deviation from ideal mental health
Characteristics listed by Jahoda are rooted in Western societies and a Western view of
person growth and achievement. In non-western collectivist cultures concepts such as
autonomy and self-actualisation would not be recognised.
In life very few people achieve their full potential; does this suggest that we are mentally ill?
Gender issues: Women get depression quickly.…read more

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The Biological Approach
The biological approach studies the relationship between behaviour and the body's
various physiological systems.
The most important is the nervous system especially the brain
This is because the brain is the processing centre, controlling all complex behaviour.
This means that in theory all behaviour normal and disordered can be related to
changes in brain activity.…read more

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Psychologists tend to assume that most behaviour, normal and disordered involve a
component inherited from the biological parents.
Many people believe that the biological and genetic assumptions are equivalent.
E.g.: Too much or too little of a particular neurotransmitter may produce psychological
Increased level of dopamine is linked to schizophrenia
Low levels of brain serotonin is linked to depression
People think that it is likely to be a genetic or inherited condition, but this is not
necessarily so.…read more

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Research into behavioural genetics know that depression is linked to low
has identified a genetic or inherited, levels of serotonin levels, but we also
component in many psychopathologies know that these can be caused by
such as schizophrenia, bipolar environmental stresses.
disorder and some phobias.
Dugs do not always tackle problems.
Drug treatment based on the E.g. eating disorders.
biological or medical model, targets
the biological bases of disorders and
can be very effective in conditions
such as depression, schizophrenia and
anxiety disorders.…read more

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ID, EGO and SUPEREGO can have control in many ways.…read more

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Abnormalities can start to occur if the superego or ID become more powerful
than the ego.
For instance if someone was anxious about leaving the house because of what
people think of them, then the superego would become more powerful.
If you are psychotic (real mental problems) then the ID is likely to be a more
powerful form.
Conflict between ID, EGO and SUPEREGO (Intra-psychic) can lead to anxiety.
To protect against this, the ego tries to balance the relation to the ID and
SUPEREGO.…read more

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The most common way of reducing this
anxiety is to avoid the threatening object.
3. Moral anxiety involves a fear of violating our own moral principles.
In order to deal with this anxiety, Freud believed that defence mechanisms helped
shield the ego from the conflicts created by the id, superego and reality
Defence mechanisms
Denial: Refusing to accept that an event has happened.
Displacement: When an unacceptable drive such as hatred is
displaced from its primary target to an acceptable target. E.g.…read more


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