Models of Abnormal Psychology

Models help explain potential cause, maintenance, prognosis and treatment of psychological disorders and mental illness.

2 paradigms - Psychological vs. Biological

Models within paradigms:


 - Psychodynamic - Unconscious motives and thoughts

 - Behavioural - Maladaptive behaviour

 - Cognitive - Disordered thinking

 - Cognitive-Behavioural

 - Humanistic - Desire for self-fulfillment (not in exam)

Contrasts with


See Psychological disorders as an illness. Use drugs to treat.

 - Genetics - heritability, predisposition

 - Neuroscience - brain biology

 - Brain structure - functions implicated

Biopsychosocial Model

Psychodynamic Model

Freud - pioneer of psychodynamic model

Irrational thought (cognitive)

Maladaptive behaviour (behavioural)

The unconscious mind buries unpleasant memories/bad thoughts

Repressed thoughts need to be expressed

Engages in dreams, fantasies and careless talk

Psychoanalysis seeks to uncover repressed thoughts and evaluate them within the conscious mind

6 Defence Mechanisms

 - Repression

  - Regression

 - Reaction formation

 - Denial

- Displacement

 - Projection

Defense mechanisms work by distorting the id impulses into acceptable forms, or by unconscious or conscious blockage of these impulses.

Psychological disorders are a result of internal unconscious conflict

The unconscious mind has 3 integral parts - ID, EGO, SUPEREGO

 - ID - Instinct, libido, sexual energy, death, aggressive drives, pleasure principle, no morals, selfish

 - EGO - Keeps the ID in check, reality principle, negotiates some expression of ID

 - SUPEREGO - Conscience, rules that govern society

They compete for conflicting human goals - ID demands vs. EGO controls

Conflict = anxiety


Psychodynamic Treatments


 - Explores the unconscious mind

 - Free association

 - Catharsis

 - Brief Psychodynamic Therapy (BPT)

 - Interpersonal Therapy

Psychodynamic Critique


 - Human personality

 - Talking cures

 - Optimism

 - Effective treatment (Crits-Christoph, 1992)


 - Lacks empirical evidence

 - Objective

 - Over-emphasis on sex drives and unconscious mind

 - Underplays motivation and personal fulfillment

 - Too much focus on traits, not situation

Behavioural Model

Challenges Psychodynamic

Acknowledged in the early 1900's

Observable behaviour vs. subjectivity

Assumption that behaviour is learned

Environment creares abnormal behaviour therefore change environment to change behaviour

Classical and operant conditioning

Stimulus and reinforcement

Classical conditioning (Pavlov, 1927)

 - UCS = UCR - NS +UCS = CS = CR

 - Many phobias caused by classical conditioning

 - Many anxiety disorders can be cured through classical conditioning via exposure to CR without CS

Operant conditioning (Skinner)

 - Reinforcement (positive/negative)

 - Behaviour eliminated by removing reinforcement

 - Phobias maintained by operant conditioning

Behavioural Critique


 - Explains onset, maintenance and extinction

 - Therapy successful (Anthony and Barlow, 2002 - CC) (Lazarus et al, 1965 - OC)

 - Treatment widely used (Wilson, 2008)

 - 10% of all therapy is behavioural

 - Easily tested empirically


 - Therapy only focusses on…


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