Individual Differences

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Defining Abnormality

Deviation from social norms: This is defined as deviating away from the social standards and behaviours accepted by society. As cultures vary there is not a set of rules. 

Failure to function adequately: This is behaviour that goes against accepted standards of behaviour and may cause others to become uncomfortable. This is impulsive and illogical behaviour. This involves individuals not being able to have a "normal" day. An example would be a schizophrenic. This is culturally dependent and context dependent.

Jahoda (1958) identified 6 conditions associated with good mental health

  • Positive self attitude
  • Self-actualisation (realising your potential)
  • Resistance to stress
  • Personal autonomy (making your own decisions)
  • Accurate perception of reality
  • Adaptation to the environment

Biological model of abnormality

The biological model assumes that psychological disorders are due to physiological illnesses or causes. It studies genetics, neurotransmitters, infection and brain injury. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine which is linked with schizophrenia; and also ceratonin which is linked with depression. 

Biological Therapies: Drugs can be used to change levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine. Psycho-surgery can be used to destroy certain areas of the brain such as frontal lobotomies. Electro-convulsive therapy involves a shock of 225V and causes a ceasure. This is designed to relieve depression but can produce memory loss.

Strengths: Has a scientific bias and has lots of evidence to prove therapies work. It can be viewed as eithical as people are not blamed for the disorders. Therapies have been proven to help disorders such as schizophrenia. 

Weaknesses: ECT can raise ethical issues along with the side effects of some of the drugs. Psychological disorders may not be linked to physical problems. The environment is not considered. Drugs can be addictive and cause memory loss.

Psychodynamic model of abnormality

This model is based on Freud's division of the personality - id,ego


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