Psychology Spec A Unit 2- Abnormality

My revison of everything in the abnormal section of the unit 2 paper including evaluations. :)

  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 23-04-12 17:58

Biological Approach


People have a genetic risk of developing a mental disorder.

Kendler - Relatives of schizophrenia were 18 times more likey to develop schizophrenia than a control group.


Some disorders are caused by an chemical imbalance in the brain eg. high levels of dopamine cause schizophrenia and low levels of serotoin causes depression.

Brain Damage

Abnormal behaviour can occur if the brain is damaged eg. Alzheimer's disease because of the loss of malformation of cells in the nervous system.


Baterial and viral infections are linked to causing disorders. Bart et al - found levels of schizophrenia in individuals whose mothers contracted the flu whilst pregant.

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Biological Approach - Evaluation

+ This approach has developed an effective drug treatment

+ There are psychological evidence in the form of brain scans

+ The blame is removed and the individuals guilt, because they cannot be held responsible for a chemical imbalance or contracted an infection

- Because responsiblity is removed recovery is less effective

- It has a simplistic view of abnormality and breaks down complex human behaviour

- Doesn't take into account external factors

- Being diagnosied with depression or schizophrenia gives a sterotypical view of what is expected from them this in it's self is damaging too an individual as it is judgmental

- Due to the sterotypical judgments and the removal of the responsiblity the individual gives in and lives up the the negetive views and recovery is damaged (self-fulling phophecy)

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Biological Approach - Drug Therapy

Drugs enter the bloodsteam in order to affect the balance affecting the transmission of chemicals that control the abnormal behaviour. eg. high levels of dopamine that causes schizophrenia requires the patient to take antipsychotic drugs in order to decrease the levels of dopamine to allow the patient to behave in a healthy way.

Evaluation of Drug Therapy

+ Reduce of symptoms and improves the quality of life

+ Evidence shows effectivness neuroleptic drugs have show to help 80% of schizophrenia patients and 2/3rd's of psychotic patients

+ Cost effective

+ Easy and no effort for the individuals

- Has been abused in the past to control patients

- Patients can become dependant on the drug treatments and addicted too them

- The side effects such as tardie dyskineshia (facial movments) can be worse than symptoms

- Takes time to work and take effect

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Biological Approach - Electroconvulsive Therapy (E

Changes the neurotransmitters activity by increasing the sensitivity of serotoin in the hypothalamus and increases release of GABA, noradrenaline and adrenaline.

The patient is given a general anaesthetic and then given electrical impulses sent to brain. Our brain has two sides, the left and right hemisphere, one is more domiant.

Unilateral ECT - Stimulates the non-dominant hemisphere

Bulateral ECT - Stimulates both hemispheres

Evaluation of Electroconvulsive Therapy

+ Immedate benefical effect

+ Evidence to suggest there is no brain damage

+ Weither & Coffey - reported an 80% improvement in depressed patients

- Risk of temporary amnesia

- Abused in the past to control patients

- Not suitable for children, elderly and pregnant women

- Sackheim - reported an 84% relapse rate after 6 months

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Leaning Approach - Classical Conditioning

The learning approach states all behaviour is learnt and believes even abnormal behaviour is learnt and can be unlearnt. (association)

Classical Conditioning

Unconditioned Stimulus ------ Unconditioned Response

     (Encounter)                                 (Fear)

                All spiders assocatied with fear

Conditioned Stimulus ----------- Conditioned Respose

     (All Spiders)                                (Fear)

Waston & Rayner - Little Albert

Showed how a phobia could develop via classical conditioning via a lab experiement, he got permisson from his parents.

* Introduced to white rat

* There is no reaction when the rat is first introduced but the experiementer makes a loud noise everytime the rat comes near and then assocates the rat with the fear

* Albert developed a conditioned response of fear

Evaluation of study

- Ethical issuse (protection, consent and deception)

- Low external

+ High internal

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Learning Approach - Operant Conditioning

Believes that postive and negetive reinforcement can control behaviour for example; people maintain phobias by avoiding it this is negetive reinforecment.

Poople make negetive assumption baout something and assocate it with negetive outcomes such as fear.

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Learning Approach - Social Learning Theory

Bandura - argued children learn anti-social behaviour by observing and copying people.

Mineka et al - used monkeys to see how phobias can be developed through observation. Monkeys whose mother's had a phobia of snakes didn't have an automatic fear. But when they saw their mother's in a fearful situation/responce they did develop a phobia because they observed and copied the same responce.

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Learning Approach - Evaluation

+ Observational behaviour so cannot be repeated

+ Looks at presant problems and doesn't rely on past experiences

+ Treatments are effective on OCD and phobias

- Tested mainly on animals and cant be generalised to human behaviour

- Reduces complex human behaviour

- Ignores external influences

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Wolpe - Treatment based on classical conditioning to counter condition fears, anxities and phobias by replacing fearful reactions with another emotion eg. relaxation. The new responce is gradually conditioned via metal imagery and real life exposure (vitro and vivo).

1. Taught deep muscle relaxation techniques

2. Establish fear heirarchy from least anxeity provoking to most

3. Introduced to least anxeity provoking to the most while using relaxation tecniques to replace conditioned fear with relaxation.

Case Study - Jones

Jones aimed to remove a fear of white rats from a 2 year old boy - Peter. For the experiement it was generalised to rabbits. When the rabbit was near Peter, the experiementer gave a postive stimulus (food). Peter learned by associating the rabbit with a postive outcome, leaving the negetive assocation behind.

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Learning Approach - Aversion Therapy

Another therapy using classical conditioning is aversion therapy. The therapist tries to get rid of undesirable behavioursusing association with an unplesant stimulus.

For example; an alcholic given a pill every time they drink, causing the person to feel ill. The negetive outcome makes them assocate the negetive experience with drinking.

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Learning Approach - Token Economy

Uses operant conditioning to dicourage anti-social behaviour, using reward and punishment. The token is given as a reward for desired behviour and can be exchanged for previleges.

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Learning Approach - Evaluation

+Sucessful at treating phobias

+ Klosko et al - stated systematic-de-sensitization was better than the most popular drug treatment. 87% of patients were panic free compared to 50% of the drug group.

+ Hopeful as it predicts people can change their behaviour

- Impratical to de-sensitize real life situations

- Patients may not have a vivid imagination for it to work effectfully

- Only effective on a limited number of disorders

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Cognative Approach - Aaron Beck and Ellis

Believes behaviour is a result of maladaptive throught processes.

Negetive Automatic Throughts

Stimulus  ---  Think  ---  Feeling  --- Behaviour  --- Outcome

(fail exam) -- (can't sit exams) -- (failure) -- (no revison, drop subject) -- (depression)

Or adaptive rotue:

(fail exam) -- (try harder) -- (determination) -- (revise more) -- (sucess)

Cognative Triad

  Negetive view of world -- Negetive about themselves -- Negetive about their future


States faulty thinking is a result of irrational assumptions, they may interpret the assumption in an irrational way eg. 'I failed the exam because I fail at everthing'.

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Cognative Approach - Evaluation

+ The model has lead to sucessfull therapies, challenging faulty through patterns

+ Because the model blames the patient, recovery is more effective

+ Gustafon - found many people with faulty thinking also have psychological disorders. Showing mental disorders do exhibt faulty thinking. Leads to assume abnormal behaviours are a result of faulty throught pattens rather than conditioning or an unconcious drive.

- Can't establish cause and effect, it could be suggested that faulty thinking maybe the effect rather than the cause of a disorder. eg. depression causes negative throughts due to the disorder which would be a symptom/effect rather than the cause of the disorder.

- The model blames the patient, overlooking situational events in the patients life which could of caused the problem.

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Cognative Approach - Rational Emotive Behaviour Th

Ellis - Based on how irrational beliefs can lead to unhealthy behaviour.

Activating Event: eg. someone looking at the house

Belief: eg. 'he is spying on me' or rational 'he is just passing by'

Consequence: eg. 'feeling of paranoia'

The REBT helps the patient revert the beliefs & behaviours associated with the event.

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Cognative Approach - Cognative Behavioual Therapy

Cognative Elements

Identifies irrational beliefs that contribues to inadiquate functioning of his daily life eg. throught dairy.

Behavioural Elements

Encouraged to carry out behavioural experiments to reality test irrational beliefs.

The end goal is to challenege the beliefs to replace to change the person's emotions and behaviours.

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Cognative Approach - Evaluation

+ Can be used to treat other disorders such as stress

+ Educates patients with self help techniques, which mean relapse rate is lower and is credited by the NHS

+ Cheap as the course is 6-8 weeks

+ More effective for depressive and anxiety disorders than drug therapies

+ NHS use these therapies because it is effective due to the low relapse rate in comparision to other therapies

+ Engles et el - Showed a meta-analysis that REBT is effective for different types of disorders such as OCD and agoraphobia.

- Sucess could depend on the skill and experience of the therapist

- Protection (more stressful than everyday life)

- Waiting list

- Cannot control irrational enviroments eg. bullying boss (reinforcing negetive throughts)

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Psychodynamic Approach - Freud

Freud believes psychological problems arose from dynamics of the personality. Abnormal behaviour is a result of unresolved conflicts from childhood which resides in our unconcious mind.

Dynamic Equilibruim

Is when the three pysche's are imbalance. Disequilibruim is when there is an imbalance or a weak ego.

Psychodynamic Conflict

Id the ID impluses are not controled they are expressed in destructiveness and immorality.

Well adjusted person develops a strong ego to cope with demands of the ID and superego (dynamic equilibruim).

If the superego is too strong it resists the ID it stops the indiviual enjoying themselves even in socially acceptable ways. It can lead to neurosis expressed in symptoms of anxiety disorders such as obsessions.

Psychosexual stages of development

Oral Stage: mouth is the source of pleasure (0-18 months)

Anal Stage: The infant will withold faveles (18-36 months)

Phallic Stage: Focous on genitals (3-6 years)

During the phallic stage children develop either Oedipus Complex (males) or Electra Complex (girls). They form a stronger relationship with the parents of the opposit sex and are worried that the other will find out about there relationship.

Conflict or fixation on any stage can result in abnormal behaviour later in life. Neurosis is more likey to develop during the phallic stage.

Defence Mechanisms

Adopted by ego to ensure demands are met for the ID without upsetting superego, reducing anxiety.

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Psychodynamic Approach - Evaluation

+ First approach to look at abnormal behaviour

+ Emphisis unconcious and effect on behaviour

+ Removes responsiblity

- Support from case studies so can't be generalised

- Relies on childhood memories

- Abstract consepts (ID, ego, superego) so you cannot test or monitor it to prove the theory

- Defence mechanisms make it hard to disprove the theory

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Psychodynamic Approach - Psychoanalytic Therapy

The goal is to bring repressed throughts from the unconsious to the consious. Via free assocation and dream anaysis.

Free Assocation

* States what they are thinking even minimal details

* Enables the intended censor of the unconsious to relax so the material can emerge

* Free assocation of ideas may lead to other repressed memories from their childhood

* Therapist's role is to interpret the information from the memories and throughts and encourge reflection

Dream Analysis

Freud believed dreams is the unconcious mind's way to uncover repressed materials to surface.

Dreams - mainfest content

Meaning - latent content

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Psychodynamic Approach - Evaluation

+ Effective  with neuitic patients

+ Bergin - an analtsis of 10,000 patients histories estimated 80% benefited from psychoanalysis compared to 60% who recieved other therapies based on alternative approaches.

- Not effective with all disorders schizophrenia patients ignore their therapst's insight and is resisant to treatment.

- Eyenck - compared neuotic patients on psychotherapy and not on any therapy. Concluded 60% of the group improved in 2 years regardless of any treatment.

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