PSYB32 Abnormal Psychology
Lecture 1 - Definitional and Historical Considerations
What Is Abnormal Behaviour?
-e.g., Digit span – Having lower than 100 in IQ score, Scoring more than 100 scores in NHL
->Although intellectually disabled people may score really low in IQ score and needs
additional help, but statistical infrequency alone is not sufficient enough to diagnose that a
certain person is abnormal, there are positive things that can be statistically infrequent such as
genius who have over 100 in IQ score.
Violation of norms:
-e.g., Gay fashion
->Not sufficient enough to diagnose abnormality alone as well since different cultures
have different norms, some culture may accept certain norms that the mainstream social norm
-e.g., Watching TV for 18 hours a day, drinking alcohol excessively
->Not sufficient alone either. While one is watching TV for 18 hours a day and drinking
alcohol excessively doesn’t mean the person is feeling distress about it, in fact they probably
enjoys it. However, it becomes a problem when personal distress translates or result in a
disability to a person’s daily lives.
Disability or dysfunction:
-e.g., Presence of disability or psychological impairment, Severity of psychological symptom –
Anxiety, Depression, Eating disorder
->When clinically trying to diagnose someone, the main factors involve whether or not the patient meets the criteria of a certain disorder, is disability present, did the severity of the
psychological symptom cause the patient to become dysfunctional on daily lives (Not sufficient
enough alone as well when disability doesn’t happen unexpectedly).
-e.g. Unexpected behaviour that creates personal distress and disability in daily lives
->Distress and disability would become insignificant when it doesn’t happen unexpectedly.
An abnormality would be something like a billionaire worrying about he/she doesn’t have
enough money but he/she has billions of dollars in bank. It becomes an abnormal behaviour
when the billionaire couldn’t live he/she’s life properly because one is constantly having
personal distress over worrying not having enough money and that it disables the person from
going to work despite he/she has billions of dollars in bank.
*None of the above criteria is used alone to define abnormality, all of these criteria are used to
diagnose every patient and applied independently to the patients as 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.”
(There is no single definition that can define abnormality; every patient is different so the
clinical diagnosis is applied independently)
Davison, Neale, Blankstein, & Flett
Abnormal Psychology, Second Canadian Edition
Mental Health Professions
-Clinical psychologist / neuropsychologist
->Holds a Ph.D. or Psy.D.
->Like a doctor, they can render diagnosis to patients
->Not only counselling, they also spend time on assessing patients ->Does treatment for patients (e.g., Cognitive behavioural therapy)
->Clinical neuropsychologists deals mainly with patients with neurological disorders
>Diagnosis focus on the brain, cognitive functions (e.g., Memory impairment)
>Treatment would be related to cognitive rehabilitation
->Gives prescriptions to patients
->Treatment psychological disorder with pharmacology (prescribed drugs)
->Majority of them doesn’t really engage in counselling but rather by medication
->Treat major mood disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder)
->Give prescriptions to patients
->Similar to neuropsychologist (Both interested in brain related issues)
->Interested in brain and behaviour and types of disorder that presents when something
goes wrong in the brain
->Investigate in different kinds of procedures such as brain imaging
->People that tries to understand the patients in the greater context of their livelihood,
living arrangement and etc.
->Making sure the patients can be integrated into the community, given access to benefits
and etc. -Counseling psychologist
->Majority holds Psy.D. rather than Ph.D.
->Someone that focus strictly on counseling, doesn’t typically engage in research
->Nurse practitioners that looks after the patients in psychiatric hospitals
->Someone without Ph.D.
->Treat people with different kinds of therapies (can be quite deceiving because almost
everyone can call themselves psychotherapists without licenses or recognitions)
->Someone that work with individuals in their home or work environment to try to help
with their functioning
->To put into place what the psychologist would be treating the individuals with (e.g.,
>E.g., showing the patients the strategies within their home or work environment so
they can help remember things easier
-Speech Language Therapist
->People that help with speech-language deficits (e.g., word finding difficulty, word fluency)
In the beginning…(what to do with abnormality)
*What causes of abnormality? (Psychopathology)
->Clinician treats psychopathology as it is
->Biology (Treating psychopathology with biological approaches)
->Psychodynamic (Treating psychopathology with psychotherapy) -Early demonology
>People in the old times attributed the people with abnormality with angry gods and
demons that inhabited the person which made them to present in these abnormal ways
>Treated people with abnormality by getting rid of the devil/demons/evil spirits that
possessed the individual
->Ways of treatment
-People would try to poison the individual, making them drink awful liquids,
prayers and etc to make the demon feel like this isn’t an inhabitable place and make the demon
find another individual
-Take a rock and another rock and drill a hole in the head and assume that this
would cause the demon to escape from the individual
In the beginning…(the first measure of abnormality and the ultimate no win situation…)
-Dark Ages and Demonology
->Churches involved and tried to understand abnormality and raised the topic of
->Churches have a lot of influences over the populace at the time in terms of beliefs
->Explains that people with abnormality are being influenced by demons again
->Ways of treatment
>Persecution of witches (Malleus Maleficarum)
-People with abnormality are generally called witches as people in the dark ages
believed that they are inhabited by the devils
>Witchcraft and mental illness
-“First” psychological test, people will test the individual with abnormality by
putting the person on the end of the teeter-totter device and try to drown the person.
->If the person did not drown, then it proves to them that they have supernatural powers and they were witch. So the people brought the witches to the middle of
the town and beheaded them.
->If the person did drown, then that means they had no supernatural powers
and they were not a witch.
In the beginning…(measurement moves along)
*History and development of psychopathology comes essentially from keen observers.
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828)
-The originator of what later became phrenology
-A school teacher and he realize that some of the students were really good at certain things
and some weren’t but good at other things.
-Realizes that some students with great vocabulary had a really thick frontal skull (big forehead),
students that really good at playing piano seems to always have a bigger occipital part of the
-He began to be positive that maybe something inside the skull is responsible with all these
good behaviours (First to say that the behaviours had something to do with the brain)
->Created a theory (which is known as the cranioscopy, later known as phrenology) and
provided some tenets that seem to still stand to define how abnormality is today.
The basic tenets of Gall's system were:
1. The brain is the organ of the mind.
->Brain was responsible for these behaviours unlike other people that think abnormality
was caused by demons and witches.
2. The mind is composed of multiple distinct, innate faculties.
->Certain parts of the brain was responsible for different kinds of behaviours
3. Because they are distinct, each faculty must have a separate seat or "organ" in the brain.
->Brain is composed of mini-brains 4. The size of an organ, other things being equal, is a measure of its power.
->The bigger of the organ, the better it works (not necessarily true these days as we know
it’s more about the connections of neurons)
5. The shape of the brain is determined by the development of the various organs.
->not necessarily true as well
6. As the skull takes its shape from the brain, the surface of the skull can be read as an accurate
index of psychological aptitudes and tendencies.
->Proposed the act of neuroimaging without the actual technology
-Gall would feel around the skulls of the students and take detailed notes
->Tries to relates or show that the students with big vocabulary would all have a bump on
the front of the skull
->Those that are good at playing pianos or good hunters had different bump over different
part of the skull
->Looking at the phrenology maps, it shows that Gall had tried to localize the different
kinds of behaviour according to different parts of skull (Similar to modern days neuroimaging
technology of fMRIs/functional MRI)