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PSY100H1 Lecture Notes - Learned Helplessness, Temporal Lobe, Twin Study

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Dax Urbszat

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Chapter 14 Psychological Disorders
Medical model applied to abnormal behaviour: proposes that it is useful to think of abnormal behaviour
as a disease
Disease analogy is only an analogy, but it`s useful
Szasz has argued that minds can`t be sick, abnormal behaviour is not an illness
Diagnosis: distinguishing one illness from another
Etiology: apparent causation and developmental history of an illness
Prognosis: forecast about the probable course of an illness
Criteria for Abnormal Behaviour
It`s all relative and subjective, normality and abnormality exist on a continuum
Variety of Criteria:
1.Deviance for the norms of society
2. Maladaptive behaviour: everyday adaptive behaviour is impaired, interfere with social or
occupational functioning
3. Personal distress: individual’s report of great personal distress (depression or anxiety
People judged to have psychological disorder only when their behaviour becomes extremely
deviant, maladaptive, or distressing
Stereotypes of Psychological Disorders:
1. Psychological disorders are incurable (false: even the most severe psycholocial disorders can
be treated successfully)
2. People with psychological disorders are often violent and dangerous
3. People with psychological disorders behave in bizarre ways and are very different from
normal people (false: only true in small minority, involving severe disorders)
David Rosenhan sent normal “pseudopatients” who were normal in every way just reported
hearing voices, and they were all admitted for an average of 19 days!
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
4 revisions of DSM, DSMIII was a major advance, introduced multiaxial system
Axis I: most types of disorders go on this axis, gender-identity, eating disorders, somatoform
disorders, mood, anxiety, schizophrenia, substance-related disorders
AxisII: long-running personality disorders or mental retardations
AxisIII: physical disorders and general medical conditions
AxisIV: psychological and environmental problems, types of stress experienced
AxisV: global assessment of functioning, individuals current level of adaptive functioning (in
social and occupational behaviour)

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Prevalence of Psychological Disorders
Lifetime prevalence: percentage of people who endure a specific disorder at any time in their
Roughly one-third of the population have had psychological disorders at some point in their lives
Anxiety Disorders: feelings of excessive apprehension and anxiety , five types, not mutually exclusive
Generalized anxiety disorder (free floating anxiety): chronic high level of anxiety that is not tied
to any specific threat
o Physical symptoms such as trembling, muscle tension, diarrhea, dizziness, faintness,
sweating, and heart palpitations
Phobic Disorders: persistent and irrational fear of an object or situation that presents no realistic
o Common phobias are claustrophobia, brontophobia (fear of storms), hydrophobia,
animal and insect phobias
Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia: recurrent attacks of overwhelming anxiety that usually occur
suddenly and unexpectedly
Panic attacks leads to agoraphobia: afraid to leave home, fear of open public places
Agoraphobia is mainly a complication of panic disorder
Panic disorder people are mostly female (67%)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (note: not Obsessive Compulsive personality disorder)
Obsession: thoughts that repeatedly intrude on one’s consciousness in a distressing way
Compulsions: actions that one feels forced to carry out
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: persistent, uncontrollable intrusions of unwanted thoughts and
urges to engage in senseless rituals
E.g. Howie Mandel, deal or no deal
Four factors underlie the symptoms: obsessions and checking, symmetry and order, cleanliness
and washing, and hoarding
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Elicited by rape, assult, sever automobile accident or natural disaster, or witnessing someone’s
7% of people have suffered from PTSD, higher in women
Symptoms: re-experiencing the traumatic event in form of nightmares and flashbacks,
emotional numbing, alienation, elevated levels of vulnerability, arousal, anxiety, anger, and guilt
Vulnerability to PTSD elevated in those who have intense emotional reactions during or
immediately after the traumatic event
Severity and frequency declines over years, recovery gradual, sometimes never fully recover

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Etiology of Anxiety Disorders
Biological factors:
o Look at concordance rate: percentage of twin pairs or other pairs of relatives who
exhibit the same disorder
o There is a moderate genetic predisposition to anxiety disorders
o Anxiety sensitivity: highly sensitive to internal physiological symptoms of anxiety and
overreact with fear leads to vicious cycle, anxiety leads to more anxiety
o Drugs that reduce excessive anxiety appear to alter neurotransmitter activity at GABA
Conditioning and Learning: fear acquired through classical conditioning, person starts avoiding
the stimulus negatively reinforce the avoidance response cuz it reduces anxiety, operant
Preparedness: people are biologically prepared by their evolutionary history to acquire some
fears much more easily than others
Observational learning can also lead to phobias
Cognitive Factors: certain styles of thinking make some people particularly vulnerable to anxiety
disorders, people who think negatively basically
Stress: high stress often helps the onset of anxiety disorders
Somatoform Disorders: physical ailments that cannot be fully explained by organic conditions and
are largely due to psychological factors
Somatization Disorder: diverse physical complaints that appear to be psychological in origin
o Diverse physical complaints in various organ systems
Conversion Disorder: significant loss of physical function (with no apparent organic basis) usually
in a single organ system
o Glove anaesthesia : lose feeling of one hand, inconsistent with known facts of
neurological organization
Hypochondriasis: excessive pre-occupation with health concerns and incessant worry about developing
physical illnesses
o Frequently appears alongside anxiety disorders and depression e.g. OCD
Etiology of Somatoform Disorders
Genetic factors DO NOT appear to make much of a contribution to the development of
Somatofrom Disorders
Personality Factors: people with histrionic personality (develop somatoform disorders more
o Histrionic people tend to be self-centred, suggestible, excitable, highly emotional, and
overly dramatic
o Thrive on the attention they get when they become ill
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