PSYB32 – Lecture 1
September 5 2013
Introduction: Definitional and Historical Considerations
Exams are MCQs. If material is found both in lecture and readings give lots of focus. If material is found
in textbook and not lectures read it over a few times. Everything is fair game.
What is Abnormal Behavior?
1. Statistical Infrequency
a. “Doesn’t happen often.”
b. e.g. Digital Span. If someone cannot recite at least 2 numbers is that abnormal?
i. Abnormal: Behavior is statistically infrequent.
c. This cannot be a loan criteria, it falls apart. Is someone abnormal if they have a shoe
fetish (odd) and can remember 15 digits (superb)?
d. Positive things can be statistically infrequent.
∴ Needs to have another criteria for abnormality.
Case Study: Nick and Feces
Is it statistically infrequent? It falls apart here because
we do not know how frequent this situation happens.
Violation of norms? Possible… But something that is not normal to one group could be normal to
Personal distress? Nick was distressed but met no criteria.
Someone could go to a party on the weekend, drink alcohol and do drugs but still show up to
work on Monday.
Disability? Personal distress does translate into disability, we can have a problem. Just because
you have a disability (anxiety, depression) you have symptoms but you are functioning, not
disable. When we try to diagnosis someone we look at whether disability is present. It’s one
thing to have symptoms but it is another if it is severe enough to cause disability.
o Could one to define abnormality.
Unexpectedness? If you have cancer, going through leukemia and you don’t go to work that is
expected. If you are a millionaire and you are stressing over saving money, that isn’t expected.
∴ Use all criteria to diagnosis abnormality. Every patient is different.
“Because the field is continually evolving, it is not possible to offer a simple definition of abnormality
that captures it in its entirety. The characteristics presented constitute a partial definition, but they are
not equally applicable to every diagnosis.” History
Abnormality was caused by the Gods and Evil Spirits, they inhibited the person. The treatment was to
get rid of the Devil/ Demon. Through:
2. Exorcism – Poison the person, prayer
3. Trepanning – Put a hole in your head and the demon will escape
Witches = Abnormality. After a witch hunt, they did psychological testing to determine if they were
really witches. They placed the “witch” on a teeter totter and dunked them in the water. If they
drowned they were not witches. However, if they did not drown they were witches and therefore
beheaded in the center of town. ∴ No win situation and therefore not a perfect test.
Franz Joseph Gall
Was a teacher and found variability in his students. The basic tenets of Gall’s system were:
1. The brain is the organ of the mind.
Brain is responsible for behavior.
2. The mind is composed of multiple distinct, innate faculties.
Certain parts of the brain a