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The Developmental Psychopathology Perspective on Abnormal Child Psychology

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Psychology 2320A/B
Elizabeth Hayden

19/11/2012: Lecture 1 The Developmental Psychopathology Perspective on Abnormal Child Psychology  Normal and abnormal behaviour are (usually) on a shared continuum  Main difference between disorder and normal behaviour – persistence (e.g. does it happen all the time?) The Developmental Psychopathology Perspective on Child Psychopathology  Developmental pathways: o Life course perspective o Precursors and consequences of disorder  Resilience is as important as understanding vulnerability  Holisitic views of children: factors that are both intrinsic and extrinsic in the child  Directedness of children: children are active agents in their own environments  Lawfulness of behaviour: some sort of consistency (lawful relationships) in behaviour from childhood to adulthood  Homotypic continuity: behaviour (i.e. disorder) remains stable in form over time  Heterotypic continuity: behaviour (i.e. disorder) changes its form across time  Equifinality: multiple pathways to a common final outcome  Mulltifinality: diverse outcomes result from a similar point of initiation What Constitutes Abnormal Behaviour?  Statistical: o “Abnormal” implies away from the norm of average o “Normal” implies no significant deviation from average o Many traits are distributed on a normal bell shaped curve o Those falling at the extremes are considered statistically abnormal  Problems: o Some extremes are adaptive o Distributions are continuous, so divisions are arbitrary o Does not tell us what traits to measure to decide what is abnormal  Personal Distress/Impairment: o If you experience distress or impairment, you have a disorder  Problems: o Fails to consider effects of behaviour on other people o Could pathologize normal emotional reactions o Depends on insight  Social nonconformity: abnormality defined by failure to conform to social standards  Problems: o Cultural relativity o Changing social standards Summary  No one definition is perfect 
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