Psychology - Models of Abnormality

4 models of abnormality: biological, psychodynamic, behavioural and cognitive.

Cards show outline of the model, the strengths and weaknesses of each and the treatments available.

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  • Created by: Alex Park
  • Created on: 24-03-12 11:02

Biological Model of Abnormality: Outline

Biological approach assumes psychological disordres are physical illnesses with physical causes. The cause could be:

  • Genes - faulty genes known to cause some diseases eg. Huntington's Disease.
  • Genetic Inheritance - passed on from parent to child eg. Twins
  • Neurotransmitters - too much or too little can produce psychological disorders eg. increased level of Dopamine is linked to Schizophrenia.
  • Infection - eg. general paresis caused by syphilis involves delusions and mood swings.
  • Brain Injury - accidental brain damage can lead to psychological disorders.
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Biological Model of Abnormality: Limitations

Limitations of the model are:

  • Humane? -  The blame is put on the sufferer - inhumane because mental illnesses do not have a physical basis, concept of 'mental illness' was invented as a form of social control.
  • Findings don't show a cause and effect - no simple link between mental illnesses and altered brain chemistry.
  • Inconclusive evidence - no evidence suggests mental disorders are purely caused by genetic inheritance; concordance rates are never 100% - meta-analysis of 40 twin studies. having an identical twin with schizophrenia gave you a 48% chance of developing the condition (if schizophrenia was entirely the product of genetic inheritance then this figure should be 100%).
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Biological Model of Abnormality: Treatments

Biological model suggests a physical therapy is needed to treat a physical problem:

  • Drugs: can be used to change neurotransmitter levels in the brain eg phenothiazines reduce levels of dopamine and can therefore relieve symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Psychosurgery - brain surgery involving destruction of parts of the brain. Its not a cure but a change making patients easier to manage. Only used nowadays for extreme cases of depression. 
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) - electric shock passed through persons brain. Can relieve symptoms of depression but also can produce memory loss. Now only used as a last resort therapy.  
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