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Lecture 1-Introduction Jan 8th

Course Code
Neil Rector

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Lecture 1 (Jan 8th) abnormal psych
x No agreed upon cause/theories for psychological disorders
x A psychological disorder is when there is a present of psychological dysfunction w/in the person.
This presence is associated with distress and impairment. It is a response that is not culturally
expected/ typical.
x Psychological dysfunction changes in cognitive (delusions/hallucinations, hearing voices or over
developed beliefs (living animal in stomach) depression (sense of indecisiveness), anxiety
(preoccupation w/ fear or threat)/emotional (depression: stuck in a sad mood, change in sleeping
patterns, social isolation or withdrawal. Anxiety: escape and avoidant behaviors/ behavioral
x Different degrees of dysfunction can be represented on a continuum. The level of psychological
disorder ranges on a continuum. Therefore it is hard to say whether there is a problem.
x DSM IV diagnoses: duration: you have to be depressed for at least 14 days continuously. The
problem is drawing a cutoff line. This can be criteria is whether is there is distress or impairment, is
the psychological dysfunction leading to a upset/distressing. We look at what has changed in the
IQs, and highly insensitive). Sometimes a major psychological dysfunction can lead to well-being.
Distress or impairmentÆ relationship suffering/person experiencing it suffering. This might not be a
good criteria b/c the distress is not necessarily inside the person, it could be really going around.
Some people have very limited impairment even if their psychological dysfunction is great.
x Atypical/unexpected response: to environmental stressors. E.g. if a person lost their home in a
natural disaster and the market collapse, to be distressed about it, for a millionaire who worries
financial ruin will happen is atypical. It is based on the context. the behavior has to be infrequent .
the greater deviation the more abnormal we are likely to label it (if on a bell curve) the problem with
this criteria is how rare is rare. This criteria is very subjective and are culturally dependent. A
psychologically disorder is more likely to be defined as a disorder if it violates a social norm.
abnormality can be defined in the norms of a culture or a society this is referred to as culturally
relativism. Diagnosing a problem is based on the cultural lens you are looking through.
The mental health Professions
- Clinical psychologist: 4 yrs undergrad degree. Masters 2 yrs. And doctors. Obtain phd. Become
licenses. No prescription of meds. Focus on psychological aspects of the disorders.
- Psychiatrist: medical doctor, and can prescribe drugs. Clinical training. Focus on understanding
problems from a biological perspective.
- Psychoanalyst: medical doctors, and has a phd. Offers long term therapy. Talk-therapy. Most
often with out medications
- Social workers: 2 year degree. Master work in social work, works with families. Works with
- Counseling psychology: train people with life adjustment problems. University counseling
centers. Has a phd.
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