Psychology Treatments of Abnormality

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Psychodynamic Therapies AO1

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  • Based on the idea that the individuals are unaware of the factors that cause their behaviour, emotions and health.
  • During psychoanalysis the therapist aims to trace unconcious conflicts and bring them to the conscious mind.
  • One technique is free association; The client expresses their thoughts exactly how they happen even if they seem irrelevant, then the therapist will interpret these thoughts.
  • Freud beleived that this lowered the defence of the ego allowing unconscious thoughts to to be brought to the surface.
  • Another technique is dream analysis; Freud thought that dreams removed the barriers to the unconscious allowing memories and impulses to come into the conscious.
  • These dreams have symbols which the therapist then interprets.
  • Another technique is psychodrama where the patient is given a role to act and the way they interpret the role suggests how they were brought up. This is particularly useful with children who have been abused as they get given puppets and dolls to play with.
  • Clients usually meet with their therapist five times a week for a period of five years.
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Psychodynamic Therapies AO2

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  • +This is an effective treatment for mental disorders, Bergin (1971) analysed data from 10,000 patient histories and found that 80% of people benefitted from this treatment.
  • +Good for problems stemming from traumatic events. 
  • -It is time consuming and expensive therefore only available to certain people- those who can afford it and those who have a lot of time on their hands.
  • -Peoples memories are subject to change, sometimes people recall things they beleive happened when actually that thing didn't happen.
  • -There is little evidence that childhood memories can be accessed in these ways, instead the therapist could have actually implanted memories into peoples brains, because once the unconscious is accessed people minds become very vunerable.
  • - Its very subjective because it depends on the therpists interpretation. Its no good the patient trying to convince the therapist that something isnt a problem because they will just say they are in denial.
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Biological Therapies AO1

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Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)

  • Originally used to treat schizophrenia but now more effectively treats depression.
  • An electrode is placed on the non dominant side of the temple (uni-polar) or another is placed on both temples (bi-lateral) 
  • A current is passed through the head, this lasts a few seconds but causes a seizure which lasts up to a minute triggering an epeleptic fit. 
  • A short acting pain killer is given which numbs the pain.
  • A patient would recieve ECT three to fifteen times to treat their illness.
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Biological Therapies AO2

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  • + Effective and can be life saving particularly when severe depression can lead to suicide- because it has an immediate effect.
  • + ECT shows quicker results than anti-depressant drugs.
  • - Bad reputation because used quite brutally in the past and caused major side effects:
  • - These side effects could include impaired memory and severe headaches among others.
  • - Only used with fully informed consent nowadays.
  • - Not enough to have it once so have to have other sessions.
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Biological Therapies AO1

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  • Assumes that chemical imbalances in the brain (abnormal levels of neurotransmitters) are the cause of psychopathology.
  • Antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia, these drugs work by reducing levels of dopamine in the brain - limits how much dopamine can reach the neuron.
  • Antidepressants are use to treat depression, they reduce the rate of serotonin reabsorption by blocking the enzyme which breaks serotonin down - SSRI's block the transport mechanism which re-absorbs serotonin therefore more is left in the synapse.
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Biological Therapies AO2

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  • + Cheap and effective for 60% of people. 
  • + Good for those who are in a really bad state and couldnt help them in any other way.
  • + Requires little effort and is cost effective compared to other treatments.
  • - Doesnt remove the problem just the symptoms.
  • - Doesnt involve the patient in own recovery so reinforces the fact they are dependant.
  • - There are side effects such as insomnia ans nausea with SSRI's.
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Behavioural Therapies AO1 and AO2

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Flooding 

  • For phobias: Confront the fear head on, stay in a room with it for 3hrs. After 30mins the fight/flight response subsides. Extinguishing the previous conditioned association between spider and unpleasant feeling.
  • Strengths: may treat the problem quickly and cheaply
  • Weakness: Ethical Issues - if panic gets so bad that patient has to leave then the phobia will be worse. Must only be given with fully informed consent. 

Systematic Desensitisation

  • Patient is taught relaxtion techniques. Then asked to construct a hierachy of fears, with something they could almost bear at the bottom. They then start off at the bottom and imagine every level but keeping relaxed. If they panic they have to go down a level but if they can imagine it all and stay calm then they do it in real life. 
  • Strengths: More eithical than flooding - doesnt cause trauma, not going make it worse 
  • Weakness: Takes a long time - expensive also doesnt work for all phobias like shyness
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Behavioural Therapies AO1 and AO2

Aversion Therapy 

  • (based on classical and operant conditioning) 
  • Removes a pleasant association for something which is bad and replaces it with unpleasant association so aversion swaps it around e.g alcoholics take drug makes them sick when smell/taste alcohol 
  • Strengths: Would be effective if person was committed 
  • Weakness: If they wanted alcohol they would just stop taking it. Ethical issues = need consent.

Token Economy 

  • Rewards everytime you do good.
  • Strengths: Works in institutional enviroments 
  • Weakness: Only lasts while patient is being rewarded - doesnt generalise to other settings 
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Cognitive Therapies

Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) - Ellis

  • A - Activating event 
  • B - False belief 
  • C - Consequences 
  • D - Dispute system = Therapist tries to change these negative thoughts to positive.
  • Strengths: Could actually make them more positive 
  • Weakness: Isnt going to help if their viewpoint was correct in the first place

Cognitive Behavourial Therapy

  • Conceptualisation - therapist and client analyse the problem and your current copeing strategies
  • Skills Aquisition - skills to help you solve the problem like taught self affirming statements.
  • Application - put skills into practice and get feedback from therapist 
  • Strengths: Compared to R.E.T it has skills aquisition so it addresses the behaviour as well as the schemas so more likely to be permanent. Empowers patient as part of own recovery
  • Weakeness: Takes long time - very expensive - not many therapists etc. Not likely to cure something like schizophrenia but may symptoms just wont take them away. 
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