Psychopathology Revision Cards


AO1 Definitions of Abnormality: Statistical Infreq

Statistics describe typical values 

A frequency graph of behaviours tends to show a normal distribution 

The extreme ends define what is not the norm i.e abnormal

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AO3 Definitions of Abnormality: Statistical Infreq

Some behaviour is desirable - can't distinguish from desirable and undesirable abnormal behaviour 

Cut off point is subjective - important for deciding who gets treatment 

Sometimes appropriate - e.g for intellectual disability define as less then two standards deviations below mean IQ 

Cultural relativism - statistical infrequency is relative to the reference population 

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AO1 Definitions of Abnormality: Deviation from So

Norms defined by a group of people 

Standards of what is acceptable 

May be implicit or defined by law 

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AO3 Definitions of Abnormality: Deviation from Soc

Susceptible to abuse - varies with changing attitude/morals, can be used to incarcerate those who are nonconformists 

Related to context and degree - e.g shouting is normal in some places and in moderation 

Strengths - distinguishes desirable from nondesirable behaviour, and considers the effects on others 

Cultural relativism - social norms of dominant culture used as basis for DSM, imposed on other cultural groups 

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AO1 Definitions of Abnormality: Failure to Functio

Being unable to manage everyday life e.g eating regularly 

Lack of functioning is abnormal if it causes distress to self and/or others 

WHODAS used to provide quantitative measure of functioning 

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AO3 Definitions of Abnormality: Failure to Functio

Distress may be judged subjectively 

Behaviour may be functional e.g depression may be rewarding for the individual 

Strengths - recognised subjective experience for the individual can be measure objectively 

Cultural relativism - standards of everyday life vary between cultures, non-traditional lifestyles may be judged as inadequate 

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AO1 Definitions of Abnormality: Deviation from Ide

Jahoda identified characteristics commonly used when describing competent people 

For example, high self esteem, self actualisation, autonomy, accurate perception of reality, mastery of the environment 

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AO3 Definitions of Abnormality: Deviation from Ide

Unrealistic criteria - may not be useably because too ideal 

Equates mental and physical health - whereas mental disorders tend not to have physical causes 

Positive approach - a general part of the humanistic approach 

Culture bound criteria e.g self-actualisation not relevant to collectivist cultures 

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Mental Disorders: Phobias

Emotional: excessive fear, anxiety and/or panic cued by a specific object or situation 

Behavioural: avoidance, faint or freeze, interferes with everyday life

Cognitive: not helped by rational argument, unreasonableness of the behaviour recognised 

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Mental Disorders: Depression

Emotional: negative emotions - sadness, loss of interest and sometimes anger

Behavioural: reduced or increased by activity related to energy levels, sleep and/or eating 

Cognitive: irrational, negative thoughts and self-beliefs that are self fulfilling 

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Mental Disorders: OCD

Emotional: anxiety and distress, and awareness that this is excessive, leading to shame 

Cognitive: recurrent, intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts (obsessions), more than everyday worries 

Behavioural: compulsive behaviours to reduce obsessive thoughts, not connected in a realistic way 

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AO1 BeA: Explaining Phobias

(The Two Process Model) 

Classical conditioning - phobia acquired through association between NS and UCR, NS becomes CS, producing fear 

Little Albert (Watson and Rayner) - developed fear of white rat which generalised to other white furry objects 

Operant conditioning - phobia maintained through negative reinforcement (avoidance of fear) 

Social learning - phobic behaviours of others modelled 

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AO3 BeA: Explaining Phobias

Classical conditioning - people often report a specific incident but not always, may only apply to some types of phobias (Sue et al) 

Diathesis-stress model - not everyone bitten by a dog develops a phobia (di Nardo et al), may depend on genetic vulnerability for phobias 

Social learning - fear response acquired through observing reaction to a Buzzer (Bandura and Rosenthal) 

Biological preparedness - phobias more likely with ancient fears, conditioning alone can't explain all phobias 

Two process model ignores cognitive factors - irrational thinking may explain social phobias 

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AO1 BeA: Treating Phobias

(Systematic De-sensitisation) 

Counterconditioning - phobic stimulus associated with new response of relaxation 

Reciprocal inhibition - the relaxation inhibits anxiety (Wolpe) 

Relaxation - deep breathing, focus on peaceful scene, progressive muscle relaxation 

Desenitisation hierarchy - from least to most fearful, relaxation practised at every step 

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AO3 BeA: Treating Phobias

Effectiveness - 75% success (McGrath et al) , in vivo techniques may work better or a combination (Comer)

Not for all phobias - works less well for ancient fears (Ohman et al) 

Strengths - behavioural therapies are fast and require less effort than CBT, can be self administered

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AO1 CA: Explaining Depression

(Ellis' ABC Model 1962) 

Activating event leads to rational or irrational belief, which then leads to consequences

Mustabatory thinking causes disappointment and depression 

(Beck's negative triad) 

Negative schema - develops in childhood, lead to cognitive biases 

Negative triad - irrational and negative view of self, the world and the future 

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AO3 CA: Explaining Depression

Support for role of irrational thinking - depressed people make more errors in logic (Hammen and Krantz) however, irrational thinking may not cause depression 

Blames the client and ignores situational factors - recovery may depend on recognising environmental factors 

Practical applications to CBT - support the role of irrational thoughts in depression 

Irrational beliefs may be realistic - depressed people may be realists, 'sadder but wiser' (Alloy and Abrahamson) 

Alternative explanation - genes may cause low levels of serotonin, predisposing people to develop depression

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AO1 CA: Treating Depression

Ellis' ABCDEF model 

D for disrupting irrational beliefs e.g logical, empirical, pragmatic 

E and F for Eddecrs of disrupting and Feelings that are produced 

Homework - trying out new behaviours to test irrational beliefs 

Behavioural activation - encouraging re-engagement with pleasurable activities

Unconditional positive regard - reduces sense of worthlessness 

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AO3 CA: Treating Depression

Research support - generally successful, Ellis estimated 90% success over 27 sessions. May depend on therapist competence (Kuyken and Tsivirkos) 

Indiviudal differences - CBT not suitable for those with rigid irrational beliefs, those whose stressors cannot be changed and those who don't want direct advice.

Behavioural activation - depressed clients in an exercise group has lower relapse after 6 months (Babyak et al)

Alternative treatments - drug therapy is much easier in time and effort, can be used with CBT 

Dodo bird effect - all treatments equally effective because they share feature e.g talking to a sympathetic person (Rosenzweig)

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AO1 BiA: Treating Phobias


One long session with the most fearful stimulus 

Continues until anxiety subsides and relaxation is complete 

Can be in vivo or virtual reality 

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AO3 BiA: Treating Phobias

Individual differences - traumatic and, if the patients quit, then has failed as a treatment 

Effectiveness - research suggests it may be more effective than SD and quicker (Choy et al) 

Relaxation may not be necessary - creating a new expectation of coping may matter more (Klein et al) 

Symptom substitution - a phobia may be a symptom of an underlying problem (e.g Little Hans) 

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AO1 BiA: Explaining OCD - Genetic Explanations

COMPT gene - one allele more common in OCD creates high levels of dopamine (Tukel et al)

SERT gene- one allele more common in a family with OCD, creates low levels of serotonin 

Diathesis-stress - same genes linked to other disorders or no disorder at all, therefore, genes create a vulnerability

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AO1 BiA: Explaining OCD - Neural Explanations

Dopamine levels high in OCD - linked to compulsive behaviours in animal studies 

Serotonin levels low in OCD - antidepressants that increase serotonin are effective 

Worry circuit - damaged caudate nucleus doesn't suppress worry signals from OFC to thalamus 

Serotonin and dopamine linked to activity in these parts of the frontal lobe 

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AO3 BiA: Explaining OCD

Studies of first-degree relatives - 5 times greater risk of OCD if relative has OCD (Nestadt et al)

Twin studies - twice as likely to have OCD if MZ twins (Billett et al) 

Environmental component - concordance rate never 100%, type of OCD is not inherited 

Genes are not specific to OCD - also linked to Tourette's, autism, anorexia 

Research support for genes and OFC - OCD patients and family members (genetic link) more likely to have reduced grey matter in OFC (Menzies et al)

RWA - genes may be blocked or modified, genetic explanations lull people into thinking these are simple solutions 

Alternative explanations - relevance of two-process model supported by success of SD like therapy called ERP

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AO1 BiA: Treating OCD

Antidepressant increase serotonin

SSRIs - prevent re-uptake of serotonin by pre-synaptic neuron 

Tricyclics - block re-uptake of noradrenaline and serotonin but have more severe side-effects, so are second choice treatment 

Anti anxiety drugs - BZs enhance GABA, a neurotransmitter that slows down the nervous system 

D-Cycloserine - reduces anxiety 

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AO3 BiA: Treating OCD

Effectiveness - SSRIs better than placebo over the short term 

Drug therapies are preferred - less time and less effort than CBT, and may benefit from interaction with caring doctor 

Side effects - not so severe with SSRIs, more severe with tricyclics and BZs 

Not a lasting cure - patients relapse when treatment stops, CBT may be preferable 

Publication bias - more studies with positive results published which may bias doctor preferences

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