Abnormality (Psychcopathology) - AQA (A) PSYA2

Includes everything you need to know for the AQA A As level psychology exam: 

Defining and explaining psychological abnormality

• Definitions of abnormality, including deviation from social norms, failure to

function adequately and deviation from ideal mental health, and limitations of

these definitions of psychological abnormality

• The biological approach to psychopathology

• Psychological approaches to psychopathology including the psychodynamic,

behavioural and cognitive approaches

Treating abnormality

ʉۢ Biological therapies, including drugs and ECT

• Psychological therapies, including psychoanalysis, systematic de-sensitisation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. 

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  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 27-04-14 10:57

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Page 1

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Definitions of Abnormality

Deviation from Social Norms
Societies have social norms, which are standards of acceptable
behaviour or unspoken rules, e.g. politeness. People who
deviate from these norms are considered antisocial and
therefore abnormal by the rest of the society.
Cultural Relativism ­ what is…

Page 2

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Who can achieve all these criteria? ­ According to Jahoda's
criteria we are all abnormal to some degree as it is unlikely
that an individual would meet all of those characteristics at one

Page 3

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Developed by Freud who believed mental disorders were the result of
psychological factors such as unresolved conflicts of childhood, which
are in the unconscious.

Personality structure
Conflicts between the id, ego and superego cause anxiety
Id ­ part of the unconscious we are born with. Demands…

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Realises the importance of childhood experiences in shaping
adulthood -

Uncover repressed thoughts to help individual understand origins of
their behaviour.

Free association ­ individual is encouraged to say anything
that comes to their mind and must not censor the material at
all. The ego…

Page 5

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Mental disorders arise from four main factors:
Biochemistry ­ the availability of certain neurotransmitters is
thought to cause mental illness. E.g. there is shown to be an
increased amount of dopamine in schizophrenics and a
decrease of serotonin in people with depression.
Genes ­ Individuals may…

Page 6

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Anti depressants ­ SSRis ­ increase serotonin to improve
Anti-psychotic drugs ­ tranquillisers, alleviate symptoms like
hallucinations and treat schizophrenia.

only supresses the symptoms and doesn't care for the disorder,
therefore drug treatment is for life.
Side effects ­ memory impairment, aggressiveness etc.

Page 7

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Only our behaviour is important. The approach focuses on observable,
measureable behaviour rather than mental processes.
All behaviour is learnt through conditioning or social learning.

Operant conditioning ­ Learning through reinforcement. E.g.
losing weight can attract praise from others, which then
positively reinforces the individual and…

Page 8

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Involves gradually introducing the patient to their fear through
a hierarchy of scenes, each designed to induce more anxiety to
the patient than the previous one.
The process involves first teaching the patient to relax
completely. The therapist and patient together create a
hierarchy with each…

Page 9

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

Behaviour is explained in terms of our thoughts and attitude

Abnormality is the result of irrational thoughts as it prevents
the individual from behaving adaptively.
Maladaptive behaviour goes against social norms or interferes
with day-to-day life, individual becomes abnormal.
In Ellis' ABC model, A is the…

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Cognitive Approach 06/01/2014 18:45

irrational thoughts even if REBT attempts to rationalise these


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