Abnormality Summary

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  • Created on: 25-11-14 09:57
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ABNORMALITY
DEFINITIONS OF ABNORMALITY
Deviation from Social Norms...
A social norm is an unwritten rule describing desirable behaviour for individuals in society.
Someone is considered abnormal if they deviate from these social norms.
Limitations:
Low historical relativism ­ Social norms vary over time therefore the definition is
constantly changing. For example, homosexuality was considered abnormal until the
1960s.
Subjective ­ It is based on a personal opinion so a judgement about someone's
abnormality is open to interpretation.
Context ­ Doesn't take the context of behaviour into account. For example, seeing a man
in fancy dress walking down the street may be seen as abnormal when in actual fact he
may be taking part in a charity walk in which case his behaviour is normal.
Failure to Function Adequately...
A person may be considered abnormal if they cannot perform everyday expectations.
Rosenhan and Seligman identified a set of 7 characteristics that show a person if failing to function
adequately. The more characteristics a person shows the more likely they are to be considered
abnormal. Some characteristics include; suffering and unconventionality of behaviour.
Limitations:
Context ­ Doesn't take the context of behaviour into account. For example, if a person
show's grief, classed as suffering, over a loved one's death this is considered perfectly
normal.
Low validity ­ Some abnormal people may actually be able to function adequately. For
example, someone with depression may be able to function well in their day to day lives.
Subjective ­ It is based on a personal opinion so a judgement about someone's
abnormality is open to interpretation.
Deviation from Ideal Mental Health...
Jahoda developed a list of 6 characteristics that normal people show. If someone does not show
these they may be considered abnormal. These include; personal growth and resistance to stress.

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Limitations:
Subjective ­ It is based on a personal opinion so a judgement about someone's
abnormality is open to interpretation.
Low validity ­ Very few people meet the criteria for normal mental health at all times.
There are often times when we don't have a resistance to stress for example, in exams.
Eurocentric ­ It includes categories that only describe normal mental health in Western
cultures. Ideas such as personal growth do not necessarily describe normal mental health
in Non-Western cultures.
BIOLOGICAL APPROACH
Genetics...…read more

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Bipolar ­ PET scans discovered that people with bipolar had 30% higher levels of brain
chemicals dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Neuroanatomy...
The structure of the brain is different in those experiencing a mental abnormality. This can occur
through injury or through illnesses, such as tumours or strokes.
Research:
Amnesia ­ Occurs because the part of the brain that stores long term memories is
damaged.
Psychosis ­ It was reported that drug abuse of cocaine/amphetamines can lead to brain
damage.
Infection...…read more

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Biological Therapies...
Anti-Anxiety Drugs:
Benzodiazepines enhance the action GABA, a brain hormone that quietens the activity in the
central nervous system making a person feel calmer.
Beta-blockers reduce the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline by binding the receptors on the
cells of the heart and other body parts that are stimulated during arousal. Hence reducing the
activity of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system.
Easy to administer ­ patients can take them themselves after consultation.
Readily available through prescription and are manufactured in bulks.…read more

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Developed by Freud, the approach assumes that much of our behaviour is driven by our
unconscious motives and that mental disorders arise from unresolved, unconscious conflicts
originating in childhood.
The Structure of Personality...
Defence Mechanisms:
Reaction Formation ­ You turn the feeling into its opposite.
Denial ­ You completely reject the thought or feeling.
Displacement ­ You redirect your feelings to another target.
The Psychosexual Stages of Development...
Freud argued that we naturally pass through 5 stages of development.…read more

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Phallic 3 ­ 6 years Penis/clitoris is main source of pleasure. Completion is adoption of the
parents' moral attitudes.
The Oedipus Complex ­ Boys: Boy likes his mother and wants his
father out of the way, fears father will know this and will castrate him,
identifies with father and adopts his moral attitudes to stop castration
anxiety.…read more

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Dream content that is recalled is the manifest content. The real meaning of the dream is called the
latent content. The latent content is hidden by the use of symbols. This use of symbols is known as
dreamworks. This symbolic imagery is a reflection of our unconscious conflicts. The analyst
interprets these symbols to find the true meaning.
Examples:
Symbols Real meaning
Sliding, slipping, breaking branches Masturbation
Teeth falling out Castration
Projective Tests:
Although not part of Freud's original method projective tests have been developed.…read more

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Classical Conditioning...
A neutral stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus through repeated presentations. The
two are paired so the stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus which then produces a
conditioned response on its own.
Anorexia example Food and weight gain are paired with anxiety and sadness. Dieting and
weight loss are paired with pleasure and happiness.
Operant Conditioning...
We learn through positive reinforcement or punishment. If we are rewarded we are most likely to
carry out that behaviour again.…read more

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Evaluation of Behavioural Approach...
The approach is positive and does not label people as `ill'. It perceives mental disorders as
maladaptive responses which can be altered.
The approach considers individual differences and social and cultural contexts as it perceives a
patient's own behavioural history as having shaped their maladaptive behaviour.
The approach is reductionist as it explains behaviour only through conditioning when behaviour
is more complex, making humans out to be simple mechanisms.…read more

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Ellis' ABC Model...
A: Activating Event
Mary and her boyfriend split up.
B: Beliefs
Rational Beliefs
Mary tells herself that although it is a sad situation they were not compatible and she will learn
from the experience.
Irrational Beliefs
Mary tells herself that the break up is her fault and that she is not loveable and so will fail at future
relationships.
C: Consequences
Desirable Emotions
Mary feels sad but hopeful that she will have successful future relationships.…read more

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