Psychopathology Psychology

psychopathology notes for psychology AS

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  • Created on: 07-04-11 11:39
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Definitions of Abnormality
Deviation from Social Norms
Social norms are the explicit and implicit rules that a society has about what
are acceptable behaviours, values and beliefs.
Deviation from social norms = deviant behaviour...
...Behaviour which is considered antisocial or undesirable by the majority of
society members.
Social norms
Moral norms
Legal norms
Eccentric or abnormal
Running a marathon dressed as a bunny does not indicate psychological
problems but talking to an invisible person does.
Abnormal or Criminal
Rape and mass murder are hard to associate with a psychologically
sound person where as committing fraud is just criminal.
Dancing in a park and singing seems weird, see cameras and we realise
filming a movie or TV show.
Change with the Times
Homosexuality was considered a psychological issue until recently.
Risk of Abuse
USSR, people who didn't agree with Stalin were deemed psychologically
Cultural Issues
What is abnormal in our culture may not be in another.
Failure to Function Adequately
Psychological disorders can lead to an inability to cope so sufferers may not be
able to work, lead a normal social life, or even look after themselves properly.
Affect = emotional response
Humane ­ no stigma
Relatively nonjudgemental
Some control left with the patient
Not the whole picture
It is not the true definition of abnormality. Psychological abnormality is
not indicated by dysfunction alone.

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Exception of the rule
A student behaviour before an exam may be out of character but not
necessarily be regarded as abnormal or a sociopath might be violent but
not experience personal suffering.
Direction of causality
Cultural Issues
The inability to cope with the demands of daily living is rather the out
come of a mental illness rather than the reason. May show higher % of
people from ethnic groups having more psychological problems because
of the deprivation they often experience.…read more

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Approaches to Psychopathology
Psychodynamic Approach
The Psychodynamic Model
Main assumption
Psychological disorders are caused by emotional problems in the unconscious
The causes of these emotional problems can usually be traced back to early
The relationship between the child and parents is a crucial determinant of
mental health.…read more

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Phallic Stage ­ Complex jealousy and fear of father transformed into a phobia
of horses.
Ego defence mechanisms:
Repression ­ Traumatic events of childhood pushed back into the
unconscious mind. (Too painful for ego) The feelings do not disappear.
Denial ­ People sometimes refuse to believe events or to admit they are
experiencing certain emotions that provoke anxiety.
Projection ­ Attribution of your own unacceptable faults or wishes onto
someone else.
Regression ­ Engaging in behaviour characteristic of an earlier stage of
development.…read more

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To bring repressed impulses and traumatic memories into conscious
To allow insight into the conflicts and anxieties which cause abnormal
To cure neurotic symptoms such as phobias or anxiety.
Dream Analysis The unconscious is revealed in dreams. Repressed memories
and impulses (latent content) appear in symbolic form (manifest). The analyst
has to interpret the manifest and understand the latent
Transference ­ The client projects (transfers) onto the analyst repressed
feelings and conflicts he/she ahs for with the parent.…read more

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Suggests people are not to blame for their own abnormal behaviour, but
partially responsible for the abnormal behaviour of their children. This is a
heavy burden for parents who feel they have `done their best', furthermore
they maybe grappling with their own inner emotional conflicts.
Biological Approach
Abnormal behaviour can be explained in term of abnormal biology. Therefore
mental disorders can be explained in biological systems (Also known as the
`medical model).…read more

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The Dopamine Hypothesis
Schizophrenia is caused by excessive activity at the synapse that use
dopamine as their primary neurotransmitter
This causes abnormal functioning of the DA dependant brain systems,
resulting in schizophrenic symptoms.
Too little Serotonin
No Blame
A diagnosis of mental `illness' implies that the person is not responsible
of their abnormal behaviour.…read more

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There are 3 main categories
Drug Treatment
Electroconvulsive Therapy
Drug Treatment
1. Minor Tranquillizers called Benzodiapines (BZDs) (Valium is an
2. Have a calming effect by inhibiting the nervous system, is causes
muscle to relax
3. BZDs work by enhancing the action of the chemical messenger
(neurotransmitter), GABA which acts to calm brain activity.
Antidepressants drugs
1. MAOI's (Monoamineoxidase inhibitors), TCA's (Tricyclics) and
SSRIs (Selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors)
2. Improve mood by increasing the availability of neurotransmitters
such as Serotonin.
3.…read more

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BNF states that most medication carrier side effects and often long
term dependency on the drugs.
Treating the symptoms
Psychologists have criticized psychiatry for focusing on symptoms
and that assuming that relieving the symptoms with drugs cures
the problem.
In some cases when drug treatment is stooped the symptom
reoccurs ­ therefore not addressing the cause of the problem
or helping people to cope with the experience in their live which
may have triggered the disorder in the first place.…read more

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