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19 Apr 2012
Chapter 2
The Role of Paradigms
-Paradigm: a set of basic assumptions, a general perspective, that defines how to
conceptualize and study a subject, how to gather and interpret relevant data, even how to
think about a particular subject
Paradigms are an intrinsic part of a science, serving the vital function of
indicating the rules to be followed
-a paradigm injects inevitable biases into the definition and collection of data and may
also affect the interpretation of facts
1. Biological Paradigm
-Biological paradigm of abnormal behaviour is a continuation of the somatogenic
-This perspective holds that mental disorders are caused by aberrant biological processes
-Aka medical model or diseases model
-For a time, the germ theory was the paradigm of medicine but it could not account for all
diseases, ex. Heart disease
-An extreme example of the biological paradigm’s influence is Hall’s use of gynecological
procedures to treat “insanity” in women from B.C. – removal of ovarian cysts or the
entire ovaries was a treatment for melancholia, mania and delusions [ex. Mrs. “D”,
delusions that her husband was trying to poison her]
-Those working with the biological paradigm assume that answers to puzzles of
psychopathology will be found within the body
a. Behaviour Genetics
Genes: carriers of the genetic information (DNA) passed form parents to child
Behaviour genetics is the study of individual differences in behaviour that are
attributable in part to differences in genetic makeup
Genotype: total genetic makeup of an individual, consisting of inherited genes,
unobservable; Phenotype: is the totality of his/her observable, behavioural
characteristics, such as level of anxiety
Phenotype changes over time and is viewed as the product of an interaction
between the genotype and the environment
Various clinical syndromes are disorders of the phenotype, not of the genotype –
a predisposition, also known as diathesis, may be inherited, but not the disorder
Study of behaviour genetics has relied on four basic methods to uncover whether
predisposition for psychopathology is inherited:
i. Family Method: can be used to study a genetic predisposition among members of a family
because the average number of genes shared by two blood relatives is known; people who share
50% of their genes with a given individual are called first-degree relatives of that person
(nieces/nephews share 25% of ; the starting point is the collection of a sample of individuals who
bear the diagnosis in question, these people are referred to as index cases or probands
ii. Twin Method: Both Monozygotic twins and Dizygotic Twins are compared: twin studies begin
with diagnosed cases and then search for the presence of the disorder in the other twin; when the
twins are similar diagnostically, they are said to be concordant; concordance for the disorder
should be greater in MZ pairs than in DZ pairs, thereby the characteristic being studied is said to
be heritable; the ability to offer a genetic interpretation of data from twin studies hinges on what
is called the ‘equal environment assumption’ which states that the environmental factors that are
partial causes of concordance are equally influential for MZ pairs and DZ pairs (i.e. equal number
of stressors)
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iii. Adoptees Method: study children with abnormal disorders who were adopted and reared apart
from their parents, this situation has the benefit of eliminating the effects of being raised by
disordered parents
b. Molecular Genetics
Goes beyond revealing the genetic component of a disorder; it tries to specify the
particular gene or genes involved and the precise functions of these genes
Allele: refers to any one of several DNA codings that occupy the same position
or location on a chromosome – a person’s genotype is his/her set of alleles
Genetic polymorphism: refers to variability among members of the species, it
involves differences in DNA sequence (mutations that can be induced or
naturally occurring)
iv. Linkage Method: a method in molecular genetics that is used to study people; involves families in
which a disorder is heavily concentrated – collect diagnostic information and blood samples from
affected individuals and their relatives and use the blood samples to study the inheritance pattern
of characteristics whose genetics are fully understood, referred to as genetic markers; researchers
often hypothesize gene-environment interactions – the notion that a disorder or related symptoms
are the joint product of a genetic vulnerability and specific environmental experiences or
c. Neuroscience and Biochemistry in the Nervous System
Neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system
Each neuron has four parts: cell body, dendrites, axon, terminal buttons
nerve impulse: a change in the electric potential of the cells, travels down the
axon to the terminal endings
Key neurotransmitters: norepinephrine: a neurotransmitter of the peripheral
sympathetic nervous system, involved in producing states of high arousal and
thus may be involved in anxiety disorders, serotonin: involved in depression,
dopamine: involved in schizophrenia, GABA: inhibits some nerve impulses and
may be involved in anxiety disorders
Some theories propose that a given disorder is cause by either too much or too
little of a particular transmitter, others propose the possibility that the receptors
are at fault in some psychopathologies
- Important implication of biological paradigm is that prevention/treatment of mental
disorders should be possible by altering bodily functioning
- increase use of psychoactive drugs:
- tranquilizers (Valium) can be effective in reducing the tension associated with some
anxiety disorders, or perhaps by stimulating GABA neurons to inhibit other neural
systems that create the physical symptoms of anxiety
- Antidepressants (Prozac) increase neural transmission in neurons that use serotonin as a
neurotransmitter by blocking their receptors
- Stimulants (Ritalin) often employed in treating children with ADHD
Neuroimaging studies have become an increasingly important area of psychiatric
note: a clinical scientist can believe in a biological basis for a mental problem yet
recommend psychological intervention
- Reductionism: refers to the view that whatever is being studied can and should be
reduced to its most basic elements or constituents [nervous system dysfunction is not
always due to biological causes, can be a result of psychological or social factors; note -
psychological interventions can be as effective as drug treatment and produces changes in
the functioning of our brains
2. Cognitive-Behavioural Paradigm
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(a) The Behavioural Perspective
- Views abnormal behaviour as responses learned in the same ways other human behaviour
is learned
- Behaviourism: defined as an approach that focuses on observable behaviour rather than
on consciousness
- Three types of learning:
i. Classical Conditioning
unconditioned stimulus
unconditioned response
conditioned stimulus
conditioned response [emotional disorders, phobias]
ii. Operant Conditioning
applies to behaviour that operates on the environment
law of effect was reformulated by Skinner by shifting the focus
from the linking of stimuli and responses to the relationships
between responses and their consequences or contingencies
Discriminative Stimulus: refers to external events that in effect
tell an organism that if it performs a certain behaviour, a certain
consequence will follow
two types of reinforcement influence behaviour: positive
reinforcement (strengthening of a tendency to respond by virtue
of the presentation of a pleasant event) & negative reinforcement
(also strengthens a response, but it does so via the removal of an
aversive event, i.e. cessation of electric shock)
skinner argued that freedom of choice is a myth and that all
behaviour is determined by the reinforcers provided by the
environment [conduct disorder ---high frequency of aggressive
iii. Modelling
we all learn by watching and imitating others, a process called
vicarious learning or modelling [children of parents with
phobias/substance abuse may acquire similar behaviours
Behavioural Therapy
- This therapy applied procedures based on classical and operant conditioning to alter
clinical problems (behaviour modification also used to describe it)
- Attempts to change abnormal behaviour, thoughts and feelings by applying in a clinical
context the methods used and eh discoveries made by experimental psychologists
- Three theoretical approaches in behaviour therapy:
i. Modelling (above)
ii. Counterconditioning & Exposure
Counterconditioning is relearning achieved by eliciting a new
response in the presence of a particular stimulus ex. Feeding the
boy in the presence of a rabbit (S) to rid him of his fears (R1) of
rabbits due to stronger positive feelings evoked by eating (R2)
Systematic Desensitization: a state or response antagonistic to
anxiety is substituted for anxiety as the person is exposed
gradually to stronger and stronger doses of what he or she fears
[reducing a wide variety of fears, anxiety disorders]
Aversive Conditioning: a stimulus attractive to the client is
paired with an unpleasant event (drug makes you nauseous while
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