Defining and explaining psychological abnormality

Revision notes including types of abnormalities, approaches to abnormalities with advantages and limitations

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  • Created on: 18-05-09 11:40
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Defining and explaining psychological abnormality
Deviation from social norms - going against society's accepted codes of behaviour
o social norms vary in different society's/cultures
This behaviour may be incomprehensible to others and could make
others feel threatened or uncomfortable
Failure to function adequately - person cannot maintain social relationships or a job
o social dysfunction, disabling state of distress
The following characteristics are associated with this behaviour;
suffering, danger to self, stands out, unpredictable, loss of control,
irrationality, causes observer discomfort and violates moral/social
Deviation from ideal mental health - person does not meet criteria considered to be normal healthy
o standards for ideal mental health are difficult to measure
Usual characteristics include; positive view of self, capability for
growth and development, autonomy and independence, accurate
perception of reality, positive friendships and relationships and
environmental mastery - able to meet the varying demands of
day-to-day situations
Biological approach to abnormality - medical model
Biological assumptions - bodily systems are used to explain behaviour
- mental disorders explained in terms of malfunctioning of biological
- medical model because it is regarded and treated like physical illness
Caused by - genes, traits, inherited, neurotransmitters associate with mental disorder, viral
infection in the womb
o Casual model, not supported by individual differences
o Diathesis - stress model can explain role of biology and experience
Experiments used to test effect of drugs, and therefore support casual role or
Correlational results
Treated with drugs
Psychodynamic approach to abnormality
Psychodynamic assumptions - individual's abnormal behaviour determined by underlying
psychological conflicts, that a person is usually unaware of, Freud. Caused by conflicts
between the iD, ego and superego. Early experiences such a traumas and unconsciously
motivated behaviour
o Explanation flawed e.g. Phobia - may not remember when it began
o Some phobias are more likely to form
o Symptom substitution - symptoms of a disorder may be behavioural, causes may not
Experiments are easily done
Animal studies generalise human behaviour
Treated by talking to bring out and work through unconscious conflicts
Cognitive approach to abnormality
Cognitive assumptions - mind processes information like a computer
- problems arise in the way an individual thinks about the world

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Caused by cognitive distortions e.g.…read more


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