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PSYC*3390 Ch 3.doc

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PSYC 3390
Mary Manson

Monday, September 24, 2012 Chapter 3: Causal Factors and Viewpoints Causes and Risk Factors for Abnormal Behaviour - understanding the causes of abnormal behaviour is clearly a desirable goal but is enormously difficult to achieve because human behaviour is so complex - many investigators now prefer to speak of risk factors rather than of causes Necessary, Sufficient, and Contributory Causes Etiology - causal pattern Necessary Cause - a condition that must exist for a disorder to occur e.g. PTSD cannot develop unless someone has experienced a severe traumatic event Sufficient Cause - a condition that guarantees the occurrence of a disorder e.g. if you are hopeless enough about your future, you will become depressed Contributory Cause - increases the probability of the development of the disorder e.g. parental rejection could increase the probability that a child will later have difficulty in handling close personal relationships - time is also important, causal factors occurring early in life may not show their effects for many years, these would be considered Distal Causal Factors - other causal factors that operate shortly before the occurrence of the symptoms of a disorder are considered Proximal Causal Factors - a Reinforcing Contributory Cause is a condition that tends to maintain maladaptive behaviour that is already occurring e.g. extra attention, sympathy and relief from un- wanted responsibility that may come when a person is ill Feedback and Circularity in Abnormal Behaviour - the task of determining cause-and-effect relationships has focused on isolating the condition x (cause) that can be demonstrated to lead to condition y (effect) - where more than one causal factor is involved the term causal pattern has been used - we often have difficulty distinguishing between what is cause and what is effect - the existence of mutual, 2-way influences must be taken into account Diathesis-Stress Models - a predisposition or vulnerability toward developing a disorder is termed a Diathesis - many psychological disorders are believed to develop as the result of some kind of stressor operating on a person who has a diathesis or vulnerability Monday, September 24, 2012 - the diathesis is a relatively distal necessary contributory cause, but it is generally not sufficient to cause the disorder - there must be a more proximal undesirable event or situation (the stressor) which may also be contributory or necessary but is not sufficient by itself Stress - the response of an individual to demands that he or she perceives as taxing to exceeding his or her personal resources - stress usually occurs when an individual experiences chronic or episodic events that are undesirable Additive Model - individuals who have a high level of diathesis may only need a small amount of stress before a disorder develops, but those who have a very low level of diathesis may need to experience a large amount of stress Interactive Model - some amount of diathesis much be present before stress will have any effect, someone with diathesis will show increasing likelihood of developing the dis- order with increasing levels of stress Protective Factors - influences that modify a person’s response to environmental stres- sors, making it less likely that the person will experience the adverse consequences of the stressors - one important protective factor in childhood is having a family environment in which at least one parent is warm and supportive, allowing the development of a good attach- ment relationship between the child and parent - “steeling” or “inoculation” effect - protective factors are not always positive experi- ences, sometimes exposure to stressful experiences that are dealt with successfully can promote a sense of self-confidence or self-esteem and thereby serve as a protective factor, thus some stressors paradoxically promote coping - individual attributes have been found to be protective - high self-esteem, high intelli- gence, school achievement, easygoing temperament, good relationships - protective factors most often, but not always, lead to Resilience - the ability to adapt successfully to even very difficult circumstances - resilience has been used to describe 3 distinct phenomena (1) good outcomes despite high-risk status, (2) sustained competence under threat and (3) recovery from trauma - we can distinguish between causes of abnormal behaviour that lie within are are a part of the biological makeup or prior experience of a person and causes that pertain to cur- rent challenges in a person’s life - stressors Developmental Psychopathology - focuses on determining what is abnormal at any point in development by comparing and contrasting is with the normal and expected changes that occur in the course of development Monday, September 24, 2012 Viewpoints for Understanding the Causes of Abnormal Behaviour - the more complex the phenomenon being investigated, the greater the number of viewpoints that develop in an attempt to explain it - there is a need for a more integrative Biopsychosocial Viewpoint that acknowledges that biological, psychosocial and sociocultural factors all interact and play a role in psy- chopathology and treatment The Biological Viewpoint and Biological Causal Factors - the traditional biological viewpoint focuses on psychological disorders and disease, many of the primary symptoms of which are cognitive, emotional or behavioural - psychological disorders are viewed as disorders of the central nervous system, the au- tonomic nervous system and/or the endocrine system that are inherited or caused by some pathological process - the disorders first recognized as having biological or organic components were associ- ated with gross destruction of brain tissue - neurological diseases - most psychological disorders are not caused by neurological damage - there are 4 categories of biological factors that seem particularly relevant to the devel- opment of maladaptive behaviour 1. Neurotransmitter and Hormonal Imbalances - the site of communication between the axon of one neuron and the dendrites or cell body of another neuron is the synapse (a tiny-fluid-filled space between neurons) - these interneuronal transmissions are accomplished by neurotransmitters (chemical substances that are released into the synapse by the presynaptic neuron when a nerve impulse occurs) Imbalances of Neurotransmitters - can be created a variety of ways: excess production and release, dysfunction in deacti- vation, receptors may be abnormally sensitive or insensitive - neurons that are sensitive to a particular neurotransmitter tend to cluster together, forming neural paths between different parts of the brain known as Chemical Circuits - Prozac appears to slow the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin, thereby pro- longing how long serotonin remains in the synapse - 4 kinds of neurotransmitters have been studied in relation to psychopathology: norepi- nephrine (noradrenaline), dopamine, serotonin, GABA - the first 3 are monoamines because each is synthesized from a single amino acid Monday, September 24, 2012 - norepinephrine has been shown to play an important role in the emergency reactions our bodies show when we are exposed to acutely stressful or dangerous situations - dopamine has been implicated in schizophrenia and addictive disorders - serotonin is important in anxiety, depression and suicide - GABA is implicated in reducing anxiety and other states with high arousal Hormonal Imbalances Hormones - chemical messengers secreted by a set of endocrine glands in our bodies Pituitary Gland - the master gland of the body - cortisol provides negative feedback to the hypothalamus and pituitary to reduce the re- lease of adrenaline and cortisol - malfunctioning of this negative feedback system is important in depression and PTSD 2. Genetic Vulnerabilities - some genetic sources of vulnerability do not manifest themselves until adolescence or adulthood, when most psychological disorders appear for the first time - abnormalities in the structure or number of the chromosomes are associated with ma- jor defects or disorders - personality traits and psychological disorders are not affected by chromosomal abnor- malities but rather abnormalities in some of the genes - genes can be turned on or off in response to environmental influences such as stress The Relationship of Genotypes and Phenotypes Genotype - a person’s total genetic endowment Phenotype - the observed structural and functional characteristics that result from an interaction of the genotype and the environment Genotype-Environment Correlation - when the genotype stapes the environmental experiences a child has Genotype-Environment Correlations - 3 ways an individual’s genotype may shape his or her environment: - it may have a passive effect - genetic similarity of parents and children - it may evoke particular kinds of reactions form the social and physical environment - evocative effect - to may have an active effect - the child builds an environment Genotype-Environment Interactions - people with different genotypes may be differentially sensitive or susceptible to their environments Monday, September 24, 2012 - e.g. PKU-induced mental retardation, children react differently to common foods with phenylalanine - they cannot metabolize it and it builds up and damages the brain Methods for Studying Genetic Influences - 3 methods have been used in Behaviour Genetics: the family history method, the twin method and the adoption method The Family History/ Pedigree Method - observe samples of relative to see whether the incidence increases in proportions to the degree of hereditary relationship - limitation is that people who are more closely related also share similar environments Twin Method - identical twins share the same genetic endowment so if a trait is com- pletely heritable, one wold expect the concordance rate (percentage of twins sharing the disorder) to be 100% , no forms of psychopathology have this rate so no psychological disorders are completely heritable - can compare concordance rates for identical and fraternal twins Adoption Method - researchers compare the rates of disorder in the adopted-away off- spring of biological parents who have a disorder with those seen in the adopted-away offspring of normal biological parents Linkage Analysis and Association Studies Linkage Analysis - studies of psychological disorders capitalize on several currently known locations on chromosomes of genes for other inherited physical characteristics or biological processes - e.g. family study of someone with schizophrenia’s family and eye colour Association Studies - start with a large group of individuals, both with and without a giv- en disorder, then compare the frequencies of certain genetic markers that are known to be located on particular chromosomes - if one or more of the known generic markers occur with much higher frequency in the individuals with the disorder than in the people without the disorder, the researchers in- fer that one or more genes associated with the disorder are located on the same chro- mosome 3. Temperament - refers to a child’s reactivity and characteristic ways of self-regulation - our early temperament is thought to be a basis from which our personality develops - starting at about 2-3 months of age, approximately 5 dimensions of temperament can be identified: fearfulness, irritability and frustration, positive affect, activity level and at- tentional persistence Monday, September 24, 2012 - they seem to be related to 3 important dimensions of adult personality: neuroticism or negative emotionality, extroversion or positive emotionality, constraint (conscientious- ness and agreeableness) - a child who is fearful in many situations have a risk for developing anxiety disorders later in childhood 4. Brain Dysfunction and Neural Plasticity - specific brain lesions with observable defects in brain tissue are rarely a primary cause of psychiatric disorders - neural plasticity - the brain makes changes in function in response to pre and postnatal experiences, stress, diet, disease, drugs and maturation Developmental Systems Approach - acknowledges not only that genetic activity influ- ences neural activity, which in turn influences behaviour, which in turn influences the en- vironment but also these influences are bidirectional The Impact of the Biological Viewpoint - we now recognize the important role of biochemical factors and innate characteristics - new developments in drugs - there are common errors in the way people interpret biological advances: - establishing biological differences between individuals with and without the disorder does not substantiate that schizophrenia is an illness - not all psychological disorders are biological conditions with biological causes - few if any psychological disorders are independent of people’s personalities or of the problems they face in trying to live their lives The Psychosocial Viewpoints - the 3 viewpoints discussed here emphasize the important of early experience and an awareness of social influences and psychological processes within an individual The Psychodynamics Perspective - emphasizes the role of unconscious motives and thoughts, and their dynamic interrela- tionships in the determination of both normal and abnormal behaviour Fundamentals of Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory The Structure of Personality: Id, Ego, and Superego Monday, September 24, 2012 - the id is the source of instinctual drives, these drive are considered to be of 2 opposing types: (1) Life Instincts - constructive drives primarily of a sexual nature and which con- stitute the Libido, the basic emotional and psychic energy of life and (2) Death Instincts - destructive drives that tend toward aggression, destruction and eventual death Pleasure Principle - the id operates on this, engaging in completely selfish and plea- sure-oriented behaviour Primary Process Thinking - the id can generate mental images and wish-fulfilling fan- tasies - the ego mediates between the demands of the id and the realities of the external world - the ego’s adaptive measures are referred to as Secondary Process Thinking and it operates of the Reality Principle - the superego is the outgrowth of internalizing the taboos and moral values of society concerning what is right and wrong, it is the conscience, it is often called the executive branch of the personality - the interplay of id, ego and superego often causes mental conflicts because these 3 subsystems are striving for different goals, if unresolved these intrapsychic conflicts lead to mental disorder Anxiety, Defence Mechanisms, and the Unconscious - Freud believed that anxiety played a key causal role in most of the forms of psy- chopathology - anxiety is a warning of impending real or imagined dangers as well of a painful experi- ence and it forces an individual to take corrective action Ego-Defence Mechanisms - discharge to sooth anxiety by pushing painful ideas out of consciousness e.g.
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