Abnormality (Psychopathology) PSYA2

notes on all of psychoppathology

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  • Created on: 04-06-13 19:40
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Definitions of abnormality
Deviation from Social Norms
All societies have social norms- standards of acceptable behaviour such as politeness, appropriate
sexual behaviour etc. There are formal laws and implicit rules concerning what people expect from
the behaviour of others. People who behave in a deviant way are considered antisocial or
undesirable- therefore abnormal- by the rest of the society.
Cultural Relativism- What is considered a diagnosable disorder and therefore `abnormal' in
one culture may be considered acceptable and therefore `normal' in another. This means
there is no universal standard for labelling a specific behaviour as abnormal.
Deviance is related to context and degree- judgements of deviance are dependent on the
context (e.g. bereavement- crying in public.) Some behaviours are considered acceptable in
one context but not in another. There is no clear line between what is an abnormal deviation
and what is harmless eccentricity
Open to Interpretation
Failure to Function Adequately
Mentally healthy people are judged as being able to operate within certain acceptable limits. From an
individual's point of view, abnormality can be judged in terms of `not being able to cope'. Feeling
depressed does not become a problem for the individual until their depression begins to interfere
with this ability to cope with day to day living. When this happens people may be able to label their
own behaviour as abnormal and seek treatment. There are 7 characteristics of FFA- suffering,
maladaptiveness, irrationality, unpredictability, unconventionality, observer discomfort and violation
of moral + social standards.
Adaptive or Maladaptive? - Some behaviour that appears dysfunctional and abnormal may
actually be adaptive for the individual. For example, depression may led to welcome extra
attention for the individual, which helps them deal with the stressor that led to depression in
the first place
Cultural Relativism- the `failure to function adequately' criterion of abnormality is likely to
result in different diagnoses when applied to people from different cultures because the
standard of one culture is being used to measure another
Gender Issues- women are more likely to suffer rape and domestic violence which affects
their ability to function adequately
Deviation from Ideal Mental Health
Abnormality is seen as deviating from an ideal of positive mental health. This includes a positive
attitude toward themselves and an accurate perception of reality. Jahoda identified six
characteristics of ideal mental health- resistance to stress, positive self-attitude, personal growth,

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It is based on Maslow's
hierarchy of needs. This definition proposes that the absence of these criteria indicated abnormality
and a potential mental disorder- this is the only positive definition of abnormality as it only alludes to
the possibility of mental disorder.
Who can achieve all these criteria? ­ According to this definition, all of us are abnormal to
some degree as it is unusual to find people that satisfy all the criteria at one time
Cultural Relativism- Most of these criterions are culture-bound.…read more

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Behavioural Approach
Behaviourists focus on observable behaviour. The behavioural approach is concerned with the
learning of behaviours through experiences such as the acquisition of abnormal behaviours through
Social Learning
This explains the development of abnormal behaviour through vicarious leaning (observation and
imitation of role models- reinforcement) and can explain eating disorders and drug partaking as
youths imitate peers who gain favourable attention. E.g. Mineka '84- young monkeys learned snake
phobias by watching older monkeys display fear in the presence of snakes.…read more

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Genetic Influence
It doesn't usually refer to the transmission of 1 particular gene but rather a predisposition for a
specific disorder (vulnerability.) It is studied in 3 ways: family history, twin and adoption studies. E.g.
Heston '66- found that adopted children whose birth mother had SZ were more likely to have SZ
Biological Environment (Infection)
Biological factors such as drugs and infections may also play a role in mental illness. E.g.…read more

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Faulty Thinking
Irrational assumptions prevent us from behaving adaptively. Therefore the issue itself is not the
problem but the way we think about it. So If a person can control their `automatic thoughts, they
should lessen their discomfort.
Ellis' ABC Model
The ABC model is defined by an activating event (A) causing an, if one has maladaptive thoughts,
irrational belief (B) which leads to a negative consequence (C) i.e. depression.…read more

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SSRI worked best on well educated, employed white women with no other disorders. In general
drugs help many patients, but not all.
Ethical Issues- One problem is that even though drugs work, they are not necessarily the best option,
depending on the condition. Drugs are relied on because they are cheap and easy but more
psychological options should be made available to patients. Drugs do have limited side effects, but in
a small number of cases the do cause serious disorders such as `serotonin syndrome'.…read more

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Long length of treatment correlates with the effectiveness of the treatment in the long term.…read more

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-Butler -06 reviewed 16 Meta analyses and found CBT was very effective for disorders like
depression anxiety and phobias. However it was less effective for things like alcoholism.…read more



A very detailed set of revision notes for the entire topic of Abnormality.  My students would love these!


thank you so much for posting :) the resources are so useful

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