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Chapter 13 – Psychological Disorders A comprehensive summary of key terms and aspects of the required learnings / teachings from Ch. 13.

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Laura Fazakas- De Hoog

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Chapter 13 Psychological Disorders
Historial Perspectives on Psychological Disorders
The Demonological View
o Abnormal behaviour was claimed to be work of the devil
o Procedure called trephination drilled hole in skull to release evil spirits
Early Biological Views
o Hippocrates suggested that mental illnesses are diseases just like physical disorders
o Believed that site of illness was the brain
o Biological emphasis increased after discovery that general paresis (mental deterioration
disorder) resulted from brain deterioration
Psychological Perspectives
o Freud believed that psychological disorders are caused by unresolved conflicts
Disorders that don’t involve a loss of contact with reality (obsessions, phobias,
etc.) called neuroses
Severe disorders involving a withdrawal from reality called psychoses
o Vulnerability-stress model everyone has some degree of vulnerability to developing a
Vulnerability can have biological basis, brain malfunction, or hormonal factor
Can also arise from personality factors such as low self-esteem
Vulnerability often only causes disorder when a stressor combines with it to
trigger the appearance of the disorder
Defining and Classifying Psychological Disorders
What is “Abnormal”?
o Three criteria seem to govern decisions about abnormality:
Distressing we are likely to label behaviours abnormal if they intensely
distress an individual
Dysfunctional most behaviours that are abnormal are dysfunctional for the
individual or society
Deviance abnormality of a behaviour is based on society’s judgments of the
deviance of it
o Abnormal behaviour behaviour that is personally distressful, personally dysfunctional,
and/or culturally deviant
Diagnosing Psychological Disorders
o Classification must be set up that meets standards of reliability (high levels of agreement
in decisions among clinicians) and validity (diagnostic categories accurately capture the
essential features of disorders)
o Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) most widely used
diagnostic system
Allows diagnostic information to be represented along five dimensions:
Axis I person’s primary clinical symptoms
Axis II long-standing personality or developmental disorders that
could influence behaviour and response to treatment
Axis III physical conditions that might be relevant
Axis IV intensity of environmental stressors
Axis V person’s coping resources
Critical Issues in Diagnostic Labeling
o Diagnoses can have important legal consequences
o Law tries to take into account the mental status of individuals accused of crimes
Competency defendant’s state of mind at time of a judicial hearing (not during
committing of crime)
Insanity presumed state of mind of defendant at time of crime
Anxiety Disorders

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Anxiety disorders group of behaviour disorders in which anxiety and maladaptive behaviours are
core of the disturbance
o Frequency and intensity of anxiety responses are out of proportion to situation that
triggered them
Have four components:
o Subjective-emotional component (feelings of tension and apprehension)
o Cognitive component (feeling of inability to cope, sense of impending danger)
o Physiological responses (increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension)
o Behavioural responses (avoidance of certain situations and impaired task performance)
Phobic Disorder
o Phobias strong and irrational fears of certain situations or objects
Most common include agoraphobia (fear of open and public spaces), social
phobias, and specific phobias (dogs, snakes, spiders, etc.)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
o Generalized anxiety disorder a chronic state of diffuse, or “free-floating”, anxiety that
is not attached to specific situations or objects
Panic Disorder
o Panic disorders anxiety disorder characterized by unpredictable panic attacks and a fear
that another will occur
Much more intense than generalized anxiety disorder
o Many people develop agoraphobia because of fear that they will have an attack in public
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
o Anxiety disorder characterized by persistent and unwanted thoughts and compulsive
People realize obsessions and compulsions have no value, and want to stop
o Obsessions repetitive and unwelcome thoughts, images, or impulses that invade
o Compulsions repetitive behavioural responses that are difficult to resist
o Genetic link found with Tourette’s, childhood disorder characterized by muscular/vocal
tics, facial grimacing, vulgar language
Increased activity in frontal lobes, decreased serotonin activity
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
o A pattern of distressing systems (flashbacks, nightmares, etc.) an anxiety responses that
recur after a traumatic experience
o Four major symptoms:
Person experiences severe symptoms of anxiety, arousal, and distress
Person relives the trauma in recurrent flashbacks, dreams, and fantasies
Person becomes numb to world and avoids stimuli that serves as reminder of the
Personal experiences “survivor guilt” in instances where others were killed
Causal Factors in Anxiety Disorders
o Genetic factors may create a vulnerability to anxiety disorders
Abnormally low levels of GABA activity may cause people to have highly
reactive nervous systems that quickly produce anxiety responses in response to
Biological preparedness makes it easier to learn to fear certain stimuli, and may
explain why phobias seem to centre on certain classes of primal stimuli and not
on more dangerous modern ones, such as guns
o Anxiety is central feature of psychoanalytic conceptions of abnormal behaviour
Neurotic anxiety state of anxiety that arises when impulses from the id
threaten to break through into behaviour
Form of anxiety disorder determined by how ego’s defense
mechanisms deal with neurotic anxiety
o Cognitive theorists stress role of maladaptive thought patterns and beliefs in anxiety
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