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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…

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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…

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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.


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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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

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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

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Maybe increase the availability of certain Neuro transmitters in the
brain and therefore secrete more hormones which will improve mood.
Ethical Issues
Has a history of abuse Mental Health Act (2007) `Capacious refusal.'

The Behavioural Approach

The behavioural model explains all behaviour in terms of learning
experience and observable phenomenon.…


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