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PSY 120 Lecture Notes - Rorschach Test, Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Drapetomania

Course Code
PSY 120
Donna Darbellay

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Chapter Sixteen Psychological disorders
Defining and diagnosing disorders
Mental disorder: any behaviour or emotional state that caused
individual great suffering, is self-destructive, seriously impairs the
person’s ability to work or get along with others or endangers others or
the community.
varying definitions of mental disorders mental disorder as a
violation of cultural standards
mental disorders as emotional distress
mental disorder as behaviour that is self-destructive or
harmful to others
in Canada, mental disorders that leading cause of disability in
those aged 15-44
Insanity: legal term only involving mental illness and whether person is
aware of consequences and can control their behaviour.
Dilemmas of diagnosis
Disorders typically classified using the
diagnostic and statistical manual
of mental disorders (DSM)
Primary goal of DSM is to be descriptive to provide clear diagnostic
List systems, onset predisposing factors, course of disorder, prevalence,
sex ration, and cultural issues in diagnosis
DSM categories five dimensions (axes) clients are evaluated on:
Axis I: primary clinical problem
Axis II: personality factors/disorders
Axis III: general medical conditions
Axis IV: social and environmental stressors
Axis V: global assessment of functioning
Increasing DSM disorders?
Supporters of new categories answer that is important to
distinguish disorders precisely
Critics point to economic reasons: diagnoses are needed for
insurance reasons so therapists will be compensated
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Problems with the DSM
It is important to be aware of limitations and problems present in
attempts to classify mental disorders:
i. The danger of over-diagnosis [ADHD]
Usually boys of single mothers
ii. The power of diagnostic labels
Mental categories used as labels; retard, stupid, idiot …
iii. The confusion of serious mental disorders with normal
problems misdiagnosis
Given a misdiagnosis wrongly diagnosed
iv. The illusion of objective and universally [drapetomania,
reflect culture and social prejudices]
Interpretation problem, an objective diagnosis
Advantages of DSM
When DSM is used correctly, in conjunction with valid objective
tests, improves reliability of diagnosis
Dilemmas of Measurement
Diagnosis usually made by combination of clinical interview and
psychological tests
Projective tests: test used to infer a person’s motives, conflicts,
and unconscious dynamics on the basis of the person’s
interpretations of ambiguous stimuli
Individual does not get to think of an answer, draw a picture,
finish a picture not true of false
Rorschach inkblot test
Can help establish rapport with a clinic
Provide information
Test lack reliability and validity [although some have
developed comprehensive scoring system for
Sometimes used inappropriately
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