Abnormal Behavior Overview


The DSM 5 is the mst up to date way of classifying abnormal behaviour using 5 axis.

1) Clinical syndromes - This is the main way of classifying abnormal behaviour through the identification of stereotypical or characterizing behaviours as well as developmental disorders.

2) Personality Disorders and Mental Retardation - Personality disorders mainly focus on the abnormal aspects of ones personality such as narcism or introversy. Mental retardation however is limited to the disorders that affect intellect, or nearby the lack of.

3) General Medical Conditions - This is focused on the physical spects of someone, determining if their disorder is linked in some way to their physical state.

4) Psychosocial and Environmental Factors - Looking at one's environment it can be determined if the area surrounding is benifical for the person or if it is adding or causing this persons disorder.eg double bind hyothsis.

5) Global Assessment of Functioning - Identifying if the determined disorder has in any way affected the persons life in a nagative way. For an example someone with OCD may be late to work every day because they have to follow a certain ritual every morning.

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Abnormal Behaviour

Behaviourist - Cause by the reinforcement of maladaptive behaviour. (Little Albert)

- Can only be cured by behaviour modification by conditioning or reinforcement (Token                      economy, systematic desensitization, aversive conditioning)

Psychodynamic - Caused by unresolved conflicts related to early development. For an example a   traumatic event that indluces the primary caregiver or secondary caregiver.

- Can only be cured by developing an insight into their conflicts, their nature and                             origins, and try and sort them that way, resolving them one by one.

Humanistic - Caused by incongruence due to distortions to self worth caused by implications of     others (we are natural people pleasers and it causes incongruence when we cannot                        please everyone)

- Can only be cured by providing conditions for one to grow. Openess and empathy.

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Applications - Anxiety

Behaviourist- The reinforcement of anxiety as a behaviour can be caused by the reinforcement of negative behaviour

EG a child may feel anxious before going to an exam and seeks approval from an authroity, they get the approval of the anxiety and spread to various other scenarios untill anxiety becomes a dominant part of their life.

Psychodynamic - Anxiety may be caused by conflicts that may have occured during early childhood

EG a child may have a hostile environment (double bind hypothasis)

Humanistic - The weight of 1qothers expectations is not a good environment for growth and this causes anxiety because of the incapability to move on to self-actualise.

EG a child may be expected by the parents to get A* in everything they do at school, this is too much weight and the anxiety of not being able to achieve these grades and please their parents causes incongruence.

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Applications - Schizophrenia

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Applications - Depression

Behaviourist - Belives that it is learned behaviour. Learned helplessness is a common one where one learns to be helpless to get what they want. Seligman (1965).

EG someone learns to act helpless in order to get attention or gifts

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Applications - Phobia

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Applications - Autism


- Mothers Genes ... Autism is said to be inherited.

- Anxiety causes defence mechanism regression to activate causing behaviours like that of a child EG social = no full sentences, little social interaction without encouragement and difficulty maintaining and making friends.


- The positive regard may be conditional on the wants and needs of others inforcing on the individual, which can be distressing and may cause a reppettive ritual to form.... This is a charateristic of Autism and this action is hoped by the individual to work at some point, refusing to change or have difficulty changing activities and ways or behaving

- Frankl suggests Noogenic Neurosis, this means that conflict is caused by external forces, rather than ones in the past or within the 'Psyche' -as S.Freud would suggest- ... for an example, the stress of the social interactions at work becoming a faliure may reult in the dislike of interacting at all with work coleuges, which can lead to the detereation of sentence structure... which is another Social Communication characteristic of Autism.


- child gets reinforced maladaptive behaviour and begins to repeat it, again repettive behaviour and restricted thinking are both behaviours identified in the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

- A child may start imitating others that get reinforced into doing maladaptive behaviour, exhibiting it even when deterred. The restrictive thinking caused by only seeing their role model , thats being reinfoced as the only source of validation.

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Applications - Personality Disorders

They can come into may different ways such as Schizoid, Borderline and OCD. However I will apply them as best as I can using each time a specific disorder.


- May be caused by the growing expectations around them that conflicts with their growing need for positive regard. It is unhealthy for the positive regard to be conditional and this sends them into stress, which may lead to cause the Personality Disorder of Avoidant or 'Dependent' Personality disorder. Which in turn -As Maslow would suggest- leads to the unattainability of self actualisation because this disorder rejects the idea that they are confident or loved because they have low self esteem and have a constant fear of abandonment. The child becomes dependent on this conditional positive regard to fill their needs to grow on the heirarchy.


- for schizophrenic-esk personality disorders such as Schizoid and Schizotypal, it could be argued that it comes from the mothers genes labled as 'schizogenic' meaning that the schizophrenic DNA that the mother has is passed down a generation... may not be all of it but definately some, which inevitably may cause a whild to have these types of Personality Disorders.


- For disorders such as Borderline, the individual has learned from a young age on how to get what they want in a neglectful or hostile environment. This is later in life transfered to non-hostile or non-neglectful environments... Which can be distressing to others around them because it seems to be manipulative or hurtful.

- actually for many of the disorders this is the case, however there are two distinct groups: Ego-Dystonic do know that it is maladaptive and are distressed by it but do it anyway and Ego-Syntonic do not think that there is anything wrong and its everone else who is at fault.

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