Psychology PSYA2 - abnormality


Definitions of Abnormality

Deviation from social norms, society has implicit and explicit rules for behaviour based on moral standards, if we are percieved to deviate from them we are classed as abnormal.

Failure to Function Adequately is based on how an individual percieves their ability to cope with everyday life, if they experience distress or are suffering due to symptoms they are considered abnormal.

Deviation from Ideal Mental Health, is an individual does not maintain all 6 criterias, e.g. personal growth, proposed by Johada then they are seen as deviating fromm a state of positive mental health classifying them as abnormal.

Biological Approach

Genetic Inheritance, twins can be compared to see if one has a disorder and whether the other does as well, providing a concordance rate (extent to which two individuals are similar in terms of a particular trait). Concordance rate for schizophrenia = high.

Neurotransmitters, genes tell the body how to function and determine the levels of hormones and neurotransmitters. High levels of serotonin may result in anxiety. Low levels of serotonin may result in depression.

Viral infection, research suggests some disorders may be related to viruses in the womb. Torrey found that mothers of people with schisophrenia contracted a strain of influenza during pregnancy. The virus would have entered the childs brain remaining dormant till puberty.

There are problems with the approach as there is no evidence that mental disorders are purely caused by genetic inheritance. Gottesman and Shields found that concordance rates for schizophrenia in monozygotic twins was only 50%, if this was entirely the product of genetics then it would've been expected to be 100%. You inherit a susceptibility.

A strength of the biological approach is that is sees abnormality as a physical illness. It is based on well founded sciences e.g. biology and chemistry. These clearly play a part in explaining abnormality.

A weakness of the approach is that it is hard to establish cause and effect between mental illness and brain chemistry. Schizophrenia is commonly associated with an excess of dopamine. However, some studies show reduced levels of dopamine in some brain tissue meaning there could be simultaneous excesses and defficiencies in parts of the brain

Psychodynamic Approach

Unresolved Conflict Causes Mental Disorders, conflict between the Id and the Superego causes anxiety, the ego protects itself with defences such as repression, regression and denial as well as projection which can cause disturbed behaviour if overused.

Unconcious Motivations, ego defences exert pressure through unconciously motivated behaviour. Memories and information that are hard to recall may lead to distress.

Early experiences cause mental disorders, the ego isn't developed enough to deal with traumas in childhood so they're repressed e.g. death of a parent. Losses in later life may cause you to re-experience earlier loss which could lead to depression.

It can be argued that Freud's theory is sexist. The theory is unbalanced as it was less well developed for women, perhaps due to the culture of the victorian society. However, changes in modern psychoanalysis has…


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