PSYA2 - Individual Differences - Abnormaility

  • Created by: Shannon
  • Created on: 19-05-14 20:33

January 2009 3 marks

Before leaving the house each morning, Angus has to go round checking that all the lights are switched off. He has to do this several times before he leaves and it makes him late for work

Use a definition of abnormaility to explain why Angus’ behaviour might be viewed as abnormal.

Deviation from social norms: The multiple of checking behaviour is not what most people do therfore deviates from social norms. People may check their lights once but not serveral times

Failure to function adequately: The checking behaviour is making them late for work; consequently they are not functioning adequatelu as they might lose their job

Deviation from ideal mental health: these people are not psychologically healthy, the constant checking might cause them stress, and they show that they cannot deal with anxiety. Resistance to stress is one of Jahoda's criteria for ideal mental health

1 of 22

January 2009 ( 2marks)

Explain one limitation of the behavioural approach to psychopathology

-Approach focuses on symptoms and ignores the underlying causes of abnormal behaviour

- It is a reductionist approach, as it explains behaviour purely as the result of conditioing when human behaviour is more complex than that. This approach is somewhat dehumanising

-Over emphasises the importance of environmental factors. The model is therefore difficult to explain mental orders with clear biological elements 

2 of 22

Jan 2009 - 3 marks

Outline what is involved in CBT

Challenges the client's irrational beliefs system, it achieves this by encouraging patients to question whether their belief is logical and is based on actual information or facts.

The clients learn to challenge their thinking patterns through self-talk or even develop more effective problem solving methods

The behavioural part of the therapy is where client is taught ways of acquiring coping strategies either 

3 of 22

Jan 09 = 2 marks

Claire constantly worries that she will be unable to finish a task. She thinks that if she does not complete it perfectly, it will not be worth doing. These thoughts are so bad that she finds it difficult starting anything and her work is suffering

Why might Cognitive Behavioural Therapy be appropriate for Claire?

- Since Claire is having problems with her thougts and the way she thinks about things, it is these negative irrational thoughts that need to be changed. This is what CBT aims to do 

4 of 22

Jan 10 - 6 marks

Identify and outline key features of two psychological approaches to psychopathology 

Psychodynamic: mental disorders have a psychological rather than phsyical cause, unresolved conflict is the cause. Early childhood expereinces influence mental disorders. the role of the unconscious is important

Behavioural: abonormal behaviour is learnt in the same way as normal behaviour i.e. through conditioning and the role of the environment

Cognitive: Abnormality is caused by faulty thinking, in this model it is the individual who is control of their behaviour 

5 of 22

Jan 10 - 6 marks

Hamish has a phobia of heights. This phobia has now become so bad that he has difficulty in going to his office on the third floor, and he cannot even sit on the top deck of a bus any more. He has decided to try systematic de-sensitisation to help him with his problem.

Explain how the therapist might use systematic de-sensitisation to help Hamish to overcome his phobia.

Relaxation is the first stage where Hamish will be taught muscle relaxation techniques. The next stage includes the therapist and client constructing a hierarchy of anxiety. It starts with situations that are the least provoking  such as standing on a chair in Hamish's case and then they list situations that cause more fear , with the most provoking situation being at the top of the hierarchy. The client and therapist then work through the list with Hamish using his relaxation techinques at each stage. Hamish should then be able to work through the whole hierarchy without the feeling of anxiety 

6 of 22

Jan 11 - 3mrks

Identify one definition of abnormality and explain one limitation associated with this definition

- Deviation from social norms - social norms vary within and between cultures, there is not one universally accepted social norm therefore this definiton is not a consistent measure of abnormality 

 --- norms may vary overtime. this means that behaviour that would have been definied as abonormal in one era is no longer defined as abnormal in another 

- Failure to function adequately- there is cultural limitation in that the definition doesn't take into account that adequate behaviour varies from one culture to another

- Deviation from ideal mental health- the criteria is very demanding that few people will be able to meet all the criteria 

7 of 22

Jan 11 - 3 mrks

Describe SD as a method of treating abonormality

- client and therapist design a hierarchy of anxiety provoking situations. The client is then taught deep muscle relaxation. The therapist and client work througgh the hierarchy while maintainging this deep relaxation. 

Explain one weakness of SD

- relies on the client's ability to be able to imagine the fearful situation. some people cannot create a vivid image and thus SD is not effective 

- SD may be effective in the therpay situation but may not work in the real world 

8 of 22

Jan 12 - 6 mrks

Abnormality can be defined as the failure to function adequately. Outline and evaluate this definition

- People who cannot look after themselves or who are percieved to be irrational or out of control are seen as failing to function adequately therefore they are abnormal. If people are unable to cope with day to day life such as getting dressed or going to work or college then are abnormal. Rosenham and Seligman made a criteria that shows failure to function adequately such as unpredictablity -displaying unexpected behaviour due to loss of control, obsever discomfort - making others feel uncomfortable. A limitation of this defintion si that is likely to lead to different diagnosis when applied to people from different cultures. Most of the criteria cannot be measured objectively so they are subjective which can be bias. FFA is context dependent, as not eating could be seen as failing to function adequately but people who have had an operation may be told not to eat for a few hours 

9 of 22

Jan 12 - 4 mrks

outline the biological approach to abnormality 

- sees disorders as having an organic or phsyical cause. The focus of this approach is on genetics, biochemistry, brain injury and infections. This approach suggest that mental disorders are related to the phsyical structure and functioning of the brain 

10 of 22

Jan 12 - 4 mrks

Hugh has a phobia of the dark. Because of this phobia, he has problems sleeping and has difficulty getting to and from work in the dark winter months. His doctor suggests a biological therapy might be the solution and prescribes a short course of drugs.

What advice should the doctor give concerning the disadvantages of this type of drug therapy?

- Don;t become dependent on the drugs as they can become addictive

Side effecrts could occur so extra caution should be taken when driving

The drugs do not treat the causes, they only treat the symptoms 

11 of 22

Jan 12 - 3 marks

Identify one psychological therapy that Hugh could consider and explain why it might help him

SD could be used to help with his phobia of the dark because it will stop him being frightened and replace his fear with relaxation. fear is incompabitable to with relaxation

CBT - could be used because it would help change his faulty cognitions about the dark that are preventing him from getting to work

Psychoanalysis could be used to help jim becaise it would access the unconscious where the repressed material is causing his abonormal behaviour 

12 of 22

Jan 13 - 4

Outline two limitations of the deviation from ideal mental health definition of abnormality 

- Difficulty of meeting all criteria, very few people would be able to to so and this suggests that very few people are psychologically healthy

- The criteria are subjective and not operationalised, so being defined as abnormal is not objective

- It is an ethnocentric standard - descrivbes normalilty from an individualistic rather than collectivist cultural standpoint highlighting potential cultural bias 

- Based ib Western ideas of ideal mental health - cultural relativism 

13 of 22

Jan 13 - 4 marks

Describe how ECT is used to treat abnormaility

- Patient is given a short acting anaesthetic and muslce relaxant before the shock is administrated. Small amount of current passes through the brain lasting for about half a second. the resulting seizures lasts for about a minute. ECT is usually given three times a week for up to 5 weeks 

14 of 22

jan 13 - 2 marks

outline one other technique that may be used in psychoanalysis

- Free association - client is encouraged to talk freely without any censorship of thoughts

- Dream Analysis - clients recall dreams and the therapist interets the manifest content to discover the latent content

projective techniques: client is shown an inkblot and is asked what they see in the picture 

15 of 22

June 2009 - 4 mrks

Describe key features of the behavioural approach to psychopathology

- All behaviour is learnt whether it is abnormal or normal. Emphasis of this approach is on the environment and it ignores the role of biology or any internal thougts or feelings. The learning can take part in 3 forms: operant conditioning, classical conditoning and social learning 

Outline one limitation of the behavioural approach

- much of the research is based on animal learning and so the approach might not be able to explain human learning in the msame way 

- it is a reductionist approach as it explains behaviour purely as the result of conditioing whereas human behaviour is more complex than that. This approach is somewhat dehumanising 

16 of 22

june 2009 - 2 + 4

Describe one weakness of defining abnormality in terms of mental health

-  difficult to meet all criteria 

- ethocentric standard 

Outline two techniques used in psychoanalysis

- Free association

- Dream analysis

17 of 22

June 09 - 2 + 4

What are the problems with psychoanalysis that clients should be aware of?

They might feel vulnerable as her defences are slowly stripped away.

She should be advised that this type of therapy only helps those who are articulate 

It is not a quick treatment and that is may take some time before they start to gain insight 

Describe the use of ECT in treating abnromalitiy

- given anaetsthtic and muscle relaxantent 

- small current passes through brain lasting about half a second

- ect given 3 times a week for 5 weeks

- resulting seizures lasts about a minute 

18 of 22

june 10 - 2

Limitation of:

- Deviation from social norms: changes with time, who decides the norm, role of context, culturally specifici

- FFA - who decides on what is adequate

- IMH - difficult to achieve many of the criteria, culturally specific 

19 of 22

june 10 - 4

Outline key features of the psychodynamic approach to psychopathology

- role of unconscious

- structure of the mind - id, ego, superego 

- use of defence mechanisms

- early childhood expereinces affecting adult behaviour 

20 of 22

june 10 - 4


- therapist set small goals she can achieve

- suceeding in these goals will help her develop more personal effectiveness

- ask her to carry a diary of her thoughs and anxities so that when she comes to the therapy they can discuss them

21 of 22

june 12 - 6 marks

Evaluate psychoanalysis

- very time consuming

- have to invest a lot of time and money

- must be motivated

- they might discover some painful and unpleasant memories that had been repressed which may cause more distress

- Doesn;t work on all people and all disorders 

22 of 22


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Abnormality resources »