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Lecture

Ch. 1,2 - Definition/history of abnormality


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY240H1
Professor
S.Cassin

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CH. 1-3: Definition/History of Abnormality
How is Abnormality Defined?
1.Unusualness or statistical deviation
2.Cultural relativism and social norms
3.Discomfort
4. Mental Illness
5. Maladaptiveness
1. Unusualness or statistical deviation
What is normal can be defined statistically by averagebehaviour; hence, what is
abnormal can be defined by what is rare in the population
PROBLEM: some rare behaviours are adaptive; some common behaviours are
maladaptive
2. Cultural relativism and social norms
There are no universal standards for labelling a behaviour as abnormal
What is perceived as normal differs between cultures, religious groups, social groups,
and age groups, and varies across contexts & time
(EX: it is [more] acceptable to get naked @ Mardi Gras, but not in Church)
3. Discomfort
Subjectively perceived feelings of distress and having trouble coping with life’s
demands are signs of abnormality.
PROBLEM: People aren’t always aware of problems that their behaviour may create for
themselves/others; or their behaviours may cause more discomfort in others than
themselves
4. Mental illness/disease
Abnormality is the result of a mental illness or disease
Assumes there’s a clear, identifiable physical process that differs from health’
PROBLEM: there is no medical test that identifies this process if it does exist
5. Maladaptiveness
The three Ds:
- Dysfunction does the behaviour prevent normal daily functioning?
- Distress does the person duffer distress?
- Deviance is the behaviour highly unusual?
This definition is adopted by most diagnostic systems (e.g. DSM-IV)
Mental Health Professions:
-Psychiatrist
-psychologist
-Psychiatric nurse
-Social worker
-Family therapist
-Occupational therapist
-Family physician
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Only psychiatrists/family physicians can prescribe drugs to treat disorders
48% of people in North America have a lifetime diagnosis of some disorder
Historical Theories of Abnormality
Biological theories
-Abnormality is caused by something going wrong in the body or brain an imbalance of
some sort
-Treated by restoring the balance with medical/chemical procedures
Supernatural theories
-Abnormality is caused by the devil, demons, evil spirits, or punishment by the gods
-Treated’ by exorcism or purging’
Psychological theories
-Abnormality is caused by traumatic experiences (EX: Stress, which is dealt with by
resting/relaxing)
Historical Highlights: Establishment of Asylums
-As early as the 12th century, the mentally ill were gradually confined in one place
-Most of these hospitals had deplorable conditions and were just places of maintenance
- St. Mary’s of Bethlehem 1547 (people even PAID to go, somewhat like a freakshow)
- Virginia 1773 (whipping, chaining, strait jackets, etc. were involved)
- Quebeec 1845; CAMH 1850
-Madhouses Act 1774
People realized hospitals had terrible conditions for the mentally ill; they wanted better
regulations and conditions
Asylums became more standardized
Historical Highlights: Reform
-Movement toward a more humane treatment of the mentally ill
-Incorporated a psychological view of mental illness and believed recovery was possible
- Phillipe Pinel humane treatment in France (1792)
- Benjamin Rush moral treatment in N. America
Father of Psychological Treatment”
- Dorothy Dix advocated for construction of mental hospitals
Responsible for 30+ hospitals built in N. A.
- Clifford Beers A Mine that Found Itself”
Documented what it was like to be treated at these hospitals
He then focused on a more individual approach to treatment
Historical Highlights: Changes and Deinstitutionalization
-By the end of the 19th century, it became clear that the asylum and moral therapy was not
a solution
-Emergence of psychiatry (a primarily medical model) followed
Griesinger (only believed in medical illnesses as a cause for abnormality)
Kraeplin (the first to classify abnormal behaviour)
-Deinstitutionalization in the 1950’s
Neuroleptic medication and move towards community treatment
(Once people took medicine, there was no need for hospital treatment [in many cases])
-Universal health care coverage in Canada (booya~)
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PART II
Theories of Abnormality
What’s a Theory?
-A theory is a set of basic assumptions that together define how to conceptualize, study,
gather, and interpret data, and think about a particular subject
- In the history of psychology, its apparent that theories about the causes of abnormality
influenced the study and treatment of abnormality
Contemporary Theories
Biological: Emphasis on body structure and function
Psychological: Emphasis on psychological factors, such as early childhood experiences and
self-concept
Social: Emphasis on interpersonal relationships and social environment
FactorTrigger
Biological
Theories
genes, disordered
biochemistry, brain
anomalies
onset of a disease,
exposure to toxins,
etc.
Psychological
Theories
unconscious conflicts,
poor skills, maladaptive
cognitions, etc.
perceived loss of
control, violation of
trust, etc
Social
Theories
maladaptive upbringing,
chronic stress, etc.
traumatic event,
major loss, etc
Biological Theories
-Abnormality is due to disordered body structure or function
-Genetic Disordered genes lead to mental disorders (such as autism, bipolar disorder,
depression, etc.)
-Structural Abnormalities in the
structure of the brain cause
mental disorders
Frontal lobe associated with
impulsive behaviours
Hypothalamus is linked with
abnormality
-Biochemical Imbalances in the
levels of neurotransmitters or
DISORDER
STRE
SS
VULNERABILI
TY
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