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2. History & Theories of Abnormality.pdf

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PSYC 3230
James Alcock

2. History & Theories of Abnormality Monday, January 14, 20139:00 AM Theoriesof abnormality • Difficult to define abnormality from normality, or one mental disease from another • Difficulty in making a theory that applies to many people, not just one case • Psychological theories of abnormality are often not "theories" in the sense used by the hard sciences ○ Usually vague ○ Difficult to translate into testable empirical form ○ Sometimes not testable at all; often unfalsifiable • The term "theory" is instead often used to mean a kind of model Typesof theories • Psychodynamic theories • Behavioral theories • Cognitive theories • Humanistic and existential theories • Biopsychosociological theories Medicalmodelof mentalillness • German psychologist, Emil Kraeplin • Nomenclature of mental disorders based on the medical model of separate diseases ○ Noted that certain symptoms of mental disorders occurred together ○ This implied specific types of illness ○ Believed that as with physical illness, it was necessary to isolate the organic cause, the specific symptoms, the specific course, and the treatment • Understand the underlying biological cause, apply treatment, symptoms would disappear • Possible psychosocial determinants and influences were neglected • During this era, huge advances in understanding the nervous system ○ Brain pathology underlying some mental disorders-- cerebral arteriosclerosis, senile psychosis, some types of retardation ○ Promising signs that mental problems will become understood through neurological occurrences (basis) ○ By the early 1900s, it had been proven that a major mental disorder, "general paresis of the insane," was caused by the syphilis spirochete • Medical researchers were confident that they would find similar biological causes for all mental disorders • However, gradually, the medical model of mental illness seemed inadequate ○ Only certain disorders seemed to have biological causes Thebeginningsof psychotherapy • Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) ○ Founded psychoanalytic approach  Dominated psychology ○ Psychiatry had viewed mental "illness" to be rooted in biological disorders ○ Demons, divine punishment --> brain pathology (Hippocrates) --> psychological and social factors (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) --> demons (Romans) --> Demons --> brain pathology (Pinel, Kraeplin) --> psychological (Freud) ○ Basic premise: psychic determinism  Behavior, normal and abnormal, is product of dynamic processes and conflict with the mind  E.g., conflicts between drives such as sex and aggression on the one hand, and moral norms and the rules on the other ○ Freud became interested in hysterical patients  Hysterical blindness, paralysis, etc. (recall Hippocrates)  Symptoms often disappeared if patient, under hypnosis, discussed upsetting incidents, and feelings Lecture Notes Page 1  Symptoms often disappeared if patient, under hypnosis, discussed upsetting incidents, and feelings associated with them ○ This suggested to Freud the idea of unconscious impulses, thoughts, feelings ○ Freud developed a complex theory that accounted for both normal and abnormal behavior ○ Conceived of a basic psychic structure • Id ○ Preset at birth; completely unconscious ○ Biological drives, pleasure principle ○ "Primary process thinking"-- conjures up images of desired objects • Ego ○ Begins to develop in first year of life because fantasy (as a baby) not capable of satisfying needs ○ Seeks to express id's needs in manner consistent with demands of environment; reality principle, secondary process thinking (planning, when I cry mom comes, etc.) • Superego ○ Develops gradually as child becomes aware of parents moral standards ○ Operates according to moral principles ○ Punishes through guilt and shame; partly unconscious Freud'sPsychoanalyticTheory • Freud viewed id's demands as creating a basic conflict between animal instincts and the restrictions placed by society. E.g., urination (I want to urinate, why can't I do it in public whenever/wherever I want?) • Ego caught in squeeze between id and superego ○ Can result in anxiety ○ 3 kinds of anxiety  Reality anxiety (normal)  Neurotic anxiety-- fear of losing control of id impulses  Moral anxiety-- arises when contemplating thoughts of behavior that superego will punish (i.e., Hungry and stealing food from supermarket-- fully conscious) • Ego has to handle the conflicts and anxiety; uses defense mechanisms ○ Repression is the fundamental defense mechanism  Recovered memories  No good evidence that repression exists ○ Regression  New brother/sister comes along, older starts acting younger to get more attention ○ Projection ○ Reaction formation  Do opposite of what you want to do ○ Denial ○ Rationalization ○ Displacement  Blame someone else ○ Sublimation  Take conflict and pour it into something useful, like art or music • Always constant built up between sexual and aggressive energy • Freud ultimately abandoned hypnosis and used free association and dream analysis (royal road to the unconscious) to uncover the hidden conflicts • His theory is very complicated; contains amongst many other elements his stages of psychosexual development ○ Oral, anal (19mo to 3yrs), phallic (3 to 6), latency (6 to 12), genital ○ Oedipal and Electra conflicts (sexual desire for parent of opposite sex) ○ Boys suffer castration anxiety, identify with father • Freud based his theory on his treatment sessions with upper-class Viennese women; no research per se (and difficult to generalize to rest of population) • Freud made important contributions Lecture Notes Page 2 • Freud made important contributions ○ Stressed that we do not always know why we act as we do ○ Stressed the continuum between normal and abnormal (i.e., slips of the tongue, reflecting some kind of unconscious process) ○ Stressed the importance of childhood experience for adult personality ○ Stressed the importance of sexual impulses • Unfortunately, we have come to realize that Freud's theory is fundamentally flawed, and ill-conceived ○ Too much emphasis on unconscious conflicts, on sexual and ag
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